The obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre spent last week telling their readers that phone hacking was no big deal: twice his obscenely overmonied churnalist Richard Littlejohn pitched that message, then Amanda Platell, his resident Glenda, reinforced it yesterday. But now – guess what? – comes the message that it is serious, but only when another paper does it.
And that other paper is the Guardian, so the disciples of the Vagina Monologue can kick the title that brought Phonehackgate to life, trowelling on the suggestion of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Indeed, the headline proclaims “Now Guardian reporter is to be quizzed by police after admitting phone hacking”. Except that the reporter in question isn’t yet facing police questioning.
Look, a lefty! He did it!! He's guilty!!!
David Leigh – whose photo has been heavily cropped by the Mail to make it appear in the style of a prison mugshot – has openly admitted listening to the voicemail messages of an arms company executive while investigating corruption. Leigh, who has asserted that his actions were in the public interest, has never attempted to cover up the episode, which he reported five years ago.
And the Mail article concedes – right at the end, as is usual in Dacreland – that Leigh is not yet being hauled in by the Met: “Scotland Yard said it’s [sic] Operation Weeting team, which is investigating hacking is aware of Mr Leigh’s admission but refused to comment”. But by this point, the smear has been delivered: the rotten lefties are the guilty ones. Note also that the story carries no by-line.
Of more interest than the re-working of old news into a contemporary smear is the source of the Mail story: step forward the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes, and who has been putting the boot into the Guardian – as well as the Mirror – for some days now. Staines has already worked with the Mail on his failed attempt to topple William ‘Ague, and his campaign against Chris Huhne.
Staines ran his first attack on Leigh on Friday last, thus giving his new pals in Dacreland plenty of time to cobble together their copy. But he didn’t do his credibility any good today by asserting that the Screws hacked Margaret Thatcher’s calls in 1987: what Rupe’s troops were doing – scanning is the usual term – wasn’t hacking, and back then it wasn’t illegal.
But Staines is in tune with his new friends: accuracy isn’t the point for the Mail, but getting at the target of the attack certainly is. Expect more of this in the coming days, with Staines not saying anything against the followers of the Vagina Monologue, while kicking those rotten lefties, not that he’s a vindictive tribalist, of course.
He wouldn’t want to endanger his nice little earner.