The average column generated by the Daily Mail’s obscenely overmonied churnalist Richard Littlejohn contains an awful lot of verbiage and precious little factual content. But sometimes a sifting of this dross reveals a giveaway, a nugget that tells the reader of Dick’s real agenda and his worries for the future.
So it is with today’s effort, which goes on at length about the Government’s e-petition initiative. Dick isn’t too keen on that: even the idea of a vote on the death penalty doesn’t impress him (and neither do facts – Littlejohn talks of “trudging to the ballot box on a wet Wednesday”, managing to forget that polling day in the UK is invariably on a Thursday).
Hacking, guv? Vicks Sinex, innit?
The giveaway comes when Dick rails against “the contempt for public opinion which MPs exercise daily ... we are governed by a self-obsessed, petty, insular, unrepresentative political class, most of whom have never had a real-world job in their lives”. And the BBC is bad for repeats? Ah, but here’s the next sentence: “Look no further than the hysteria over phone hacking”.
Acts of criminality on an industrial scale are OK, then, are they? Dick’s sitting firmly on his nearest suitably reinforced fence on this one: “While there was undoubtedly criminality which has to be punished, on a scale of one to ten, hacking was way down most people’s list of priorities”. The clairvoyant ability of someone closeted away in his gated Florida compound is truly magnificent.
What Littlejohn is saying is that it’s no big deal. So why might he be slipping that into both columns this week? We need look no further than Nick Davies’ excellent Flat Earth News for some clues. For example, Operation Motorman, which resulted in the raid on private investigator Steve Whittamore in 2003, revealed that in a three year period, the Daily Mail was his biggest single customer, making 985 requests for information in that three year period, most of it illegally obtained.
And the former Mail reporter who recalled “We used to use the social security computer as if it was an extension of the Daily Mail library”, with another Mail hack telling Davies “If the Mail go for you, they get every phone number you have dialled, every schoolmate, everything on your credit card, every call from your phone and from your mobile. Everything”.
Small wonder that Richard Littlejohn, the voice of the Daily Mail, wants to instil in his readers the belief that illegal activity on behalf of newspapers is no big deal. His legendarily foul mouthed editor, who might soon find himself rather closer to the action than he would like, would not expect any less.