The Phone Hacking Trial that finally came to an end this week put not just a series of individuals on trial, it by association put Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire on trial as well. And that empire did not emerge from the encounter at all well: the now-defunct Screws was engaging in what was conceded, even by Rupe’s most fervent fans, to be phone hacking on an industrial scale.
That's what I think of youse objective factual reporting idea, ya Pommie Bastards!
Rupe’s upmarket troops at the Times, no longer a paper of record, had two options in reporting this: they could hold their hands up and admit that News UK, as it is now known, had harboured a criminal enterprise within its premises, or it could fire up the spin machine, pretend it was pure as the driven snow, and blame someone else. No prizes for guessing that the latter course was chosen.
This was achieved via an editorial in yesterday’s Times, and a column of serial cluelessness by Tim Montgomerie, who so memorably called phone hacking completely wrong: “It is a desperate attempt by Labour to get revenge for the ousting of Damian McBride” he told, not stopping to wonder why he’d been given a platform to open mouth and insert boot by the Guardian – which had broken the story.
Monty then sealed his future career direction with this slice of jaw-dropping arslikhan: “Rupert Murdoch has been an overwhelming force for good in this country’s life and politics”. So it was no surprise to see him opine “I come to praise Coulson, not to bury him”. Yes, Andy might have overseen a cesspit of criminality, but he made the Tory Party’s trains run on time.
It’s rather like The Italian Job’s Charlie Croker saying of his deputy Bill Bailey “He’s just done four years in Parkhurst ... and you can trust him”. Meanwhile, the paper’s editorial tells “A record of won one, lost nine begins to sound like the current England cricket XI”, as its author conveniently forgets the five individuals who had already pleaded guilty, and who will be sentenced next week, along with Coulson.
Readers are told “The CPS should have been far more careful in advancing the charges in the first place”. The editorial concludes “the acquittal of Mrs Brooks in particular proves that the use of hacking and other criminal means to obtain information was not widely known about, let alone endorsed by ... News International”. That would be why Nick Davies knew about it, then.
But the last word must go to Monty, predicting the upcoming Government reshuffle: “Expect Liverpudlian Esther McVey to replace Ken Clarke and become a roving Government spokeswoman”. Well, Cameron may do just that – but what would be the point in promoting someone who has just committed career suicide by having her Twitter account playing party politics during the Hillsborough memorial service?
Lame excuses, and yet lamer punditry, and Rupe expects us to pay for it too.