After what has seemed an eternity of not getting on the wrong side of people’s consciences, finally Rupert Murdoch is caught on the back foot. No, I’m not gloating but making a serious point. Today’s Independent quotes a subscriber to Times Online who, outraged by the headline article in ‘The Thunderer’ and it’s lack of any mention of News International’s (NI) Chief Executive officer Rebekah Brooks, wrote that though he had been reading The Times for many years he would consider buying a different newspaper, “one that would report without fear or favour”.
The irony of that statement is that Rupert Murdoch bought his way into the Star satellite TV channel and once there got rid of the BBC World Service news channel because the BBC would not compromise editorial control by sharing it with the Chinese. Murdoch said “We’re not proud of that decision, but it was the only way” (Newsweek, 12 February 1996). As usual, Murdoch’s rationale was the long-term profit motive. No fear or favour there then?
Mrs Brooks, who was editor of the News Of The World (NOTW) at the time that that the hacking took place, has said that she will not resign. However, what we have to remember is the way that NOTW and NI have conducted themselves during successive inquiries. Earlier this year they asserted that they knew nothing about the new allegations and that they had not found any new evidence. This from a media corporation that employs several hundred investigative reporters. What of the police? They too said that they had no new evidence to work on and yet within weeks of the recent revelations evidence is teeming out of the fabric of Murdoch’s mucky empire. Their management now claim to have established who at NOTW authorised the hacking of Milly Dowler’s mobile phone and that Rebekah Brooks was away on holiday when this took place. This is an appalling attempt to shift the spotlight away from her and on to someone somewhere else. Editors, like publicans, are responsible for their business even when they are not there and this shameful act of denial should spell out to OfCom that News International are not ‘fit and proper’ to hold the licence for satellite broadcasting in the UK.