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Tuesday 4 December 2012

Murdoch Is Served (89)


Labour MP Chris Bryant’s Commons intervention yesterday evening, in the debate on the Leveson Report, has re-ignited the heat under Rupert Murdoch, and this time it looks to be personal and potentially very damaging indeed. Bryant claimed that Rupe’s troops, as I considered recently, did indeed bung a serving member of the US military for the Saddam Hussein “underpants” photos.

Moreover, the payment was not the trivial $900 to which the Murdoch empire has previously admitted, but well into the thousands of Dollars at the very least, with the possibility that it exceeded $100,000. On top of that, the payment is alleged to have taken place partly on US soil. The Indy has information suggesting that the contact was a National Guardsman and the meeting took place in the San Francisco area.

That involved a “senior” News International (NI) executive, which points to the involvement of someone very high up in the organisation. The Indy also goes into the detail of the payments, asserting that “several thousand Dollars” was wired to the USA. Bryant alleged that the balance – a rather larger amount – was paid in the UK using an account set up for the transaction.

Bryant further alleged that a laptop with data on the transaction was subsequently destroyed, all of which, together with calls for Rupe to release his personal emails, puts NI right back in the mire. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) must be looking on and wondering where to start: Murdoch is of course a US citizen, so there would be no problem with them taking him in for questioning.

But the story is not being universally covered, and certainly not splashed, in many papers: here we have an echo of Phonehackgate. Then, most papers ignored the story totally, with many on the right making the ludicrously wrong call that it was all a put-up job to get payback for Damian McBride. That was certainly the view of the odious Henry Cole, tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines.

So what has the Guido Fawkes blog, home to both these less than august individuals, made of this latest travail for their beloved Rupe? To no surprise at all, it is dismissed as a non-story, to the extent that Chris Bryant is today ridiculed by the Fawkes folks. The payment to the National Guardsman is shrugged off, The Great Guido accepting the Murdoch explanation without question.

One might have thought that, after getting Phonehackgate and the exit of Andy Coulson from Downing Street so wrong, the Fawkes rabble might at least stop and think this time, especially after Staines claimed yesterday that “Good stories earn credibility”. Well, thus far the quality of their stories has earned the Fawkes blog a mere 4% trust rating. That looks set to remain. Another fine mess, once again.

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