Anyone who thought the Fourth Estate might change its ways following the Leveson Inquiry have seen that thought dashed this week as the old culture of Omerta has returned. Most of the press has rallied to the cause of Rupe’s downmarket troops and kept schtum after it was revealed by Tory MP Andrew Mitchell that he is taking action against the Super Soaraway Currant Bun for libel.
And this is no empty threat: Mitchell’s lawyer has already sent the Sun a “letter before action” over their exclusive revelation alleging that he had called the Police on duty at the Downing Street gates “f***ing plebs”. The news, coming out of a Channel 4 Dispatches broadcast on Monday evening, was picked up first by Lisa O’Carroll of the deeply subversive Guardian.
Ms O’Carroll’s lead was then followed by the Independent, and the story was also reported by Andrew Pugh at the Press Gazette. But elsewhere, the old ways of not reporting on your own have kicked in: the Sun has defended its “no comment” because of the impending legal action, but no other paper should have felt constrained – and remember, they were quick enough to print the original story.
So who is on this particular roll of shame? The Mirror has been silent, despite its usual reputation for exploiting Tory Party problems. The Daily Mail has said nothing, meaning that the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is standing by Rupe. No sound has come from the Daily Express or Daily Star (although both mentioned the C4 Programme), and not a whisper from the Times or Maily Telegraph.
True, some of those titles have reported on the arrests of a number of Police officers as the investigation into what really happened one evening last September is pieced together, but no word on Mitchell’s libel action. Also true, of course, is that some of those papers could also be in the firing line – Mitchell may not stop with the Sun – but that does not preclude their reporting the action.
And, if anyone is expecting the supposedly “#1” name in the blogosphere to ride to the rescue and blow the whistle on this attempt to close ranks and hope nobody notices, they have another think coming: the rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog has also said nothing, despite also having majored on the initial story. And there is a very straightforward reason for this.
The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his pals now have a column in the Sunday Sun. Thus they have been bought by Murdoch: they now dance to his tune, and do his bidding. Moreover, they dare not offend the rest of the Fourth Estate, as that would mean no more nice little earners selling stories and photos. Not for nothing has this blog labelled the Fawkes folks as MSM stooges and sellouts.
Four years after Phonehackgate, it’s business as usual. No surprise there, then.