Monday, 11 April 2011

Hacking: a hack has his doubts


Those of us who have rattled around a bit in the world of journalism know that there is a squad of freelances who dance along the margins of truth and legality to get whatever stuff they can and sell it in whichever marketplace will buy, sharing tricks and techniques as they go.
That’s why I find it impossible to believe that the phone hacking scandal is confined to the News of the World and News International.
The Guardian and the BBC would seem to want us to believe this is the case. But then, it feels like The Guardian has cast itself as a virtuous newsprint Perseus on a mission to behead the evil Murdoch Medusa, while the BBC has loathed News International ever since Rupert Murdoch, in a surprisingly nervous performance (which I witnessed) at the Edinburgh TV Festival in 1989 delivered a MacTaggart lecture in which he denounced the then TV establishment as “an integral part of the British disease” and made it clear that he detested the licence fee as an anachronism and a brake on free enterprise.
(Son-and-heir James Murdoch renewed and expanded hostilities from the same pulpit twenty years on, describing the BBC – I paraphrase – as a monolithic, state-sponsored, competition- smothering, Orwellian newspeaker.)
Thus civil war in Libya, mutiny and mayhem on the Ivory Coast and murder on a Royal Naval submarine all got shoved down the BBC news agenda a couple of nights ago as the full repertory of relevant correspondents topped all bulletins with the latest hacking “revelations” and their analyses thereof.
It’s pretty obvious why other newspapers are keen to quarantine the hacking virus inside Wapping, and I suppose it must be part of Murdoch’s defensive strategy not to start hurling infected ordure over the ramparts.
No, I don’t work for News International, never have and don’t want to. I just hate it when news begins to stink of politics; particularly when the stinkers are so sanctimonious.
Do you really believe no other British newspaper has carried stories based on voicemails filched from mobile phones?
Hmmm.

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