The news that Rupert Murdoch had been indiscreet on a secret tape recording made me imagine what dreadful thing it could be?
Had the media mogul revealed himself to be the Great Beast? Had he dished-up salty tales of hideous orgies at Bohemian Grove?
Alas, neither of these imaginary things—more the pity.
It turned out Murdoch had been caught letting slip his real views on the ‘phoning hacking scandal that eventually led to the demise of his (in)famous organ the News of the World.
Why Channel 4 News, who broadcast the story as an “exclusive,” and investigative news site Exaro, who did likewise and have it hidden behind a pay-wall, should think they had some kind of major scoop, when the always reliable Private Eye published the very same story three weeks ago?
What I can tell you is that the 82-year-old Murdoch was secretly recorded (obviously by more than one person) at a meeting he attended with arrested Sun journalists, at the paper’s HQ in the East End of London, on March 6th, this year.
For most of the meeting Murdoch railed against the treatment of his journalists by police during the Hackgate scandal. This was to be expected, as any boss would have found dawn raids on their staff by the boys-in-blue as more than just a wee bit over the top.
“I mean, it’s a disgrace. Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent…
“The idea that the cops then started coming in, kick you out of bed, and your families at six in the morning, is unbelievable. But why are the police behaving in this way? It’s the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing…
“And now they’re arresting their own, who never even took money.”
Murdoch went to rave about what had been done to his flame-thrower-haired editor, Rebekah Wade. (One can almost hear the lump in his throat…)
“..what they’re doing, what they did to you, and how they treated people at [******], saying ‘a couple of you come in for a cup of tea at four in the afternoon.’ You guys got thrown out of bed by gangs of cops at six in the morning, and I’m just as annoyed as you are…
“The people who came in and turned over…Rebekah on Monday morning…there were about fifteen or sixteen. Most of them, a dozen, were from Manchester, a murder squad of something. And there were three local cops. It’s ridiculous.”
Murdoch went on to offer “total support” (Up to a point, Lord Copper) for his journalists, ensuring health care..and er…well, that they should “trust” him. Surprisingly no-one laughed.
There was also the usual raving about the Establishment, which Murdoch has been wittering-on about since he set up his business on British shores back in the Swinging Sixties.
“And we’re being picked on. I think that it was the old right-wing establishment, [Lord] Puttnam, or worse, the left-wing get-even crowd of Gordon Brown. There was a sort of—we got caught with dirty hands, I guess, with the News of the World, and everybody piled in. It was a get-even time for things that were done with The Sun over the last forty-years…
However, all of this is small potatoes compared to the meat-and-two-veg of the recording, when Murdoch admits to being aware of payments-for-information.
“We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops: that’s been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn’t instigate it.
“I would have thought 100% … at least 90% of payments were made at the instigation of cops saying, ‘I’ve got a good story here. It’s worth 500 quid’ or something. And you would say, ‘No, it’s not’ … And they’d say, ‘Well, we’ll ring the Mirror…’ It was the culture of Fleet Street.”
This runs contrary to Murdoch’s bumbling performance as a contrite Mr. Magoo at last year’s Levenson Inquiry, where he laid the blame on a couple of rogue journalists.
This tape probably gives a pretty good view of what Rupert Murdoch is really like. (Not that we hadn’t already imagined something quite similar!)
These tape(s) should now be passed onto the Police, who must investigate Murdoch’s comments fully.