The demise of the News of the World, the paper at the center of the UK’s ‘phone hacking scandal, has less to do with guilt, remorse or even people power, and everything to do Rupert Murdoch’s desire for power - no matter the cost.
Tonight Murdoch’s son, James announced the end of the 168-year-old tabloid, claiming it had been “sullied by behaviour that was wrong” and that “wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad”.
He went on to say:
“Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company.
“The News Of The World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.”
James Murdoch also echoed his father in giving his full support to the former NOTW editor, Rebekah Brooks, saying:
“She has a good standard of ethics and her leadership is the right thing for the company.”
Brooks was editor at the time when it is alleged a private detective, employed by the paper, hacked into the voice mail messages of the murdered teenager, Milly Dowler.
Brooks stated earlier this week that it was
“inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”
In light of this week’s revelations, what is truly inconceivable is the fact Brooks has not either
b) been sacked.
If she did not know that a private detective had been employed to hack ‘phones, then she failed in her role as editor, and should be sacked.
If she did know about it, then she should resign.
Whichever way you look at it, Brooks has to go.
Instead the Murdochs have pulled together and sacrificed a best-selling tabloid to defend Ms. Brooks.
The question is: Why?
Tonight, it was also announced that another former editor, Andy Coulson, who resigned in 2007 over the NOTW ‘phone-hacking, will be arrested by the police tomorrow.
Why protect Brooks and not Coulson?
What is disturbing about the whole NOTW ‘phone hacking scandal is the glimpse it gives of Rupert Murdoch’s power.
Since the days of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, politicians have courted Murdoch as an ally to win power.
Tony Blair met with him regularly and was a guest at a major News International party in Australia prior to Labour’s victorious election in 1997. Gordon Brown went on pilgrimage once a year to Sun Valley, to court Murdoch. Now David Cameron continues this tradition of fore-lock tugging.
This may seem like something political leaders have to do, but it takes on greater significance in light of the admission of criminal activity by Brooks during a government enquiry, eight years ago.
It is a criminal offense to pay the British Police for information.
When questioned at a Select Committee hearing in March 2003, Brooks admitted to paying police for information.
“We have paid the police for information in the past.”
When asked if she would do so in the future, she replied:
Rebekah Brooks admits paying the police for information - a criminal offense - in March 2003
If it was known back in 2003 that Brooks and the News of the World had committed a criminal offense then why wasn’t she prosecuted?
Are Britain’s politicians too frightened, too cowed, by Murdoch and his tabloid press? And if they are, why? What imaginary power does he hold over them?
And what power does Rebekah Brooks hold over Rupert Murdoch?
The question is: Who benefits by Murdoch sacrificing the News of the World? Does it make easier for Murdoch to now own BSkyB? Does it mean News International won’t have to pay out large sums to victims of ‘phone-hacking if there is no longer a News of the World?
What David Cameron must do now is initiate a judge led enquiry in to the News of the World, Brooks, Coulson and Murdoch, as the police, in light of their involvement, cannot be trusted to investigate this thoroughly.
Cameron also has to stop Murdoch’s plans to take over BSkyB.
Both are a small step towards severing Murdoch’s influence over parliament.
To stop Murdoch’s plans to take over BSkyB sign the petition here.
Previously on Dangerous Minds