Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A nation bullied

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  • DeepRed,

    News of the World raced to the bottom with no brakes... and ended up totalled. This hopefully serves as a wake-up call to Fox News and other mass media cartels.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4351 posts Report Reply

  • Julie Fairey,

    Hitler was nice to dogs - genius!

    Orcland • Since Dec 2007 • 217 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Gotta say that from a television point of view, this is a splendid story. Hugh Grant was fabulous, Brooks could be played by Nicole Kidman (not my idea, read it on Twitter) and McMullen actually looks part weasel (especially in the earlier footage where he still had tatty whiskers),.

    As I follow this scandal I am oscillating wildly between the joy of watching a deserved come-uppance unfold, and horror at the emerging evidence of just how far the rot goes. We might once have suspected, but now we know.

    Without a local Guardian equivalent, how would we find out about something like this in New Zealand?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    We have our suspicions - but no journalist/paper willing to dig in the dirt....

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Karma's a bitch, or so they say. I don't think there're too many people out there who won't be thinking "Whatever they get, they've had it coming."

    The act I found most despicable, though I certainly haven't addressed myself to the whole litany of ills, was breaking into the cell account of a missing (and later found murdered) 13-year-old girl, deleting messages in order to free up space so that more messages could be left; and listened to. Including a subsequent message from her parents, who'd been told by the police that the activity suggested their daughter was still alive. I'm not enamoured of the "Celebrities are fair game" school, but at least a case can be made. I can think of no case to support many of NotW's other activities, however, and one hopes that the Met will begin a wide-ranging examination of corrupt activities by its officers now that the shackles of Fleet Street have been broken.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    Hugh Grant's performance was equally good, although he had already got one over McMullen in the New Statesman where he gave the guy a taste of his own medicine. What startles me is the guy's complete frankness about who they bugged and how unscrupulous they were about it.

    But how luck are we that journalists of the calibre of Nick Davies exist. He has been nothing short of heroic.

    Meanwhile the central thesis behind this Adam Curtis blog on Murdoch's relationship with the establishment is a lot, shall we say, linear and convincing, than some of his work.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    The act I found most despicable, though I certainly haven't addressed myself to the whole litany of ills, was breaking into the cell account of a missing (and later found murdered) 13-year-old girl, deleting messages in order to free up space so that more messages could be left; and listened to. Including a subsequent message from her parents, who'd been told by the police that the activity suggested their daughter was still alive.

    I'd totally agree with you, but frankly watching other sections of the British media engaging in moral high horse dressage has been distasteful. I'm sure Murdoch's competitors are having a lot of fun right now, but I don't know how much of their own behaviour will bear exposure to the light of day.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    As I follow this scandal I am oscillating wildly between the joy of watching a deserved come-uppance unfold, and horror at the emerging evidence of just how far the rot goes. We might once have suspected, but now we know.

    Without a local Guardian equivalent, how would we find out about something like this in New Zealand?

    The Screws of the World have always been scumbags; and well-known for it in the industry. The latest revelations are only a little worse than usual, the difference is they've been found out.

    In New Zealand, the story budgets just aren't big enough to corrupt anyone, let alone employ a decent hacker. Think about it: would a MacDonalds coffee in a takeaway cup be enough for you to sell your soul?

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Hebe,

    O but would the threat of being sacked from the Fairyfaxedfactory - just before you were due for your pension et al - be enough for you to sell your (trade union) soul?
    Yup - in the cases of 2 people I know.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    But what Britain now seems suddenly to be recovering from is a form of bullying sustained over decades.

    What I keep seeing/hearing as I read and watch are the like of bubble bursts, financial crashes and housing prices drops. Eventually it comes to an end and something reacts.

    I think GB has reacted. There is no doubt the dead girl's txts were the last straw. Even though these investigations have been going on slowly, they catalysed the reaction.

    But. You won't sell 5 million papers with dry rotting corruption and investigative journalism. Page 3 and pants around the knees wins hands down.

    A large(?) section of the human race are a bunch of paper buying voyeurs. 5 million out of 60 million anyway.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Humans now number __about__7 billions...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Islander,

    Individual contracts? Yes they've been big for well over 15 years (exact date eludes me). Surprising who sold out; and not so surprising who didn't want anyone else to know....
    The lily-livers would still keep the luvly pension pot if they went though, especially luscious if it dated from the INL (Murdoch) days.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Fox, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    The Elephant in the room of course Murdoch's takeover bid for BSkyB, which has been opposed by pretty much every media outlet whatever their political bias. It is broadly viewed as a Murdoch acquisition too far and has helped forge an unholy anti News Corp alliance right across the political divide. The Beeb will never be seen to crow openly, but the powers that be at the coporation will be particularly chuffed that Murdoch junior, News Corp's chief BBC heckler, has been splattered by a few globules of the faeces that is flying round. And at the other end of the food chain are the bottom feeding shysters like Richard Desmond who will now be licking their filthy lips at the prospect of a bigger slice of the sewer that the death of the NOTW presents and will attempt to scoop up their share of the spoils with every shitty trick in the book. As everybody knows, Hypocrisy knows no bounds in tabloid land.

    Since Nov 2006 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Islander,

    Humans now number __about__7 billions...

    I am guessing that the 5 million out of 60 million Ross was referring to was strictly the UK. But it wasn't clear - that's just how I interpreted it.

    Since Jun 2010 • 323 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Hebe: I was more thinking about the evident complicity of the British PM and the Met, than the voicemail snooping and bribery per se. In other words, how would we know to what extent pols compromise to pacify media proprietors?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I get your point; apologies for my one-dimensional reading. Hmmm; who knows, are we as a nation even big enough to bother the likes of Murdoch? Not that he's a presence in NZ now. (Though when he owned INL one would hear occasional tales from ashen-faced printers of coming across The Beast himself pulling out page-proof drawers and having a look after midnight. Probably more to check the ad ratio than the content I imagine.)

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Robert Fox,

    The Elephant in the room of course Murdoch’s takeover bid for BSkyB, which has been opposed by pretty much every media outlet whatever their political bias.

    And their own commercial self-interest? I’m sure this is going to wound Murdoch’s ego tremendously, but England was quite happily breeding squalid press barons and media outlets with the moral probity of pox-ridden whores long before Keith Murdoch got his first tabloid in the colonies. I know Rupert Murdoch is a trendy bogeyman (and not entirely without reason), but anyone who thinks Fleet Street was a fragrant bower before that ghastly Ocker vulgarian slithered above the salt is guilty of nostalgia of the most fatuous kind.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    England was quite happily breeding squalid press barons and media outlets with the moral probity of pox-ridden whores long before Keith Murdoch got his first tabloid in the colonies.

    Indeed. The history of the politicians and the press barons in Britan is extraordinary.

    But there has been something particularly troubling about the Murdoch era. Other publishers have had their political preferences, but Murdoch's role as kingmaker has been something else. It has been like bullying a nation.

    Hearing those MPs finally feeling able to criticise NI really brought that home to me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Fox,

    I know Rupert Murdoch is a trendy bogeyman (and not entirely without reason), but anyone who thinks Fleet Street was a fragrant bower before that ghastly Ocker vulgarian slithered above the salt is guilty of nostalgia of the most fatuous kind.

    Meh, I'm certainly not nostalgic for an imagined pre Murdoch nirvana where the British 4th estate kept the establishment and parliament accountable for the good of the nation. Twas never thus. But to dismiss the Murdoch's News Corp as just another example of an out of control press baron ignores the fact that in the last 30 years it has become the largest and most influential media organisation the west has ever known.The NOTW and the Sun have been playing their A game for such a long time that its easy to forget how their pioneering market research led content has helped set the tone of public discourse in the UK and beyond for nearly 3 decades. Where News Corp's red tops led everyone else followed . To see such an immensely strong brand take such a hammering now is akin to scientists finding definitive proof that Coca cola causes bowl cancer.

    Since Nov 2006 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Now if only the Blackcaps could bowl cancer, we might start to win a few games!!!

    Since Nov 2006 • 876 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But there has been something particularly troubling about the Murdoch era. Other publishers have had their political preferences, but Murdoch’s role as kingmaker has been something else. It has been like bullying a nation.

    Hearing those MPs finally feeling able to criticise NI really brought that home to me.

    Perhaps it says more about me, but I'm a little more jaundiced and cynical. Labour and the Conservatives were happy to court Murdoch, and let tabloid scum like Alastair Campbell and Andy Coulson in the front door of Number 10. I do hope the Screws of the World gets all the karmic payback it so richly deserves, I also think politicians have to held to account for their part in creating, enabling and cynically exploiting this toxic media culture.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Lea Barker,

    Besides being angry about what everyone else is justifiably angry about, I'm annoyed that I wasn't smart and knowledgeable enough to register the sunonsunday domain name before any else did--I'd be set for life selling it to the Murdoch empire.

    Thanks for posting the video... the only BBC Newsnight I've seen here in the States is the one where Rosie Boycott ("journalist, and former editor of The Independent and The Daily Express") suggests that the cynical could look at Murdoch's reaction as a brilliant business move.

    Now he can rehire the journalists he wants at lower pay and set them to work on NOTW's replacement paper.

    I suppose it's too much to hope that this will also sink the Fox Network in the US? After reading the Rolling Stone article about Roger Ailes, I'm wondering if I shouldn't get a job as a delivery person in NY and drive the paranoid idiot crazy by turning up outside his CCTV-ed office every day with a package full of nothing.

    Oakland, CA • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    People do seem genuinely angry here, judging by the fact that the topic comes up unprompted in casual discussion. Whether or not that will be enough to sustain the rage is another question.

    On the employment law matter, given as this is my profession, I can safely say that dismissing several hundred people on the spot in the UK is almost impossible to do without create all sorts of actionable cases. So unless NI buys off everyone (which they could do), expect to see all sorts of stories trickle out in the next 6 or so months from embittered ex employees.

    There is also a risk of kinds in creating a replacement in all but name, given that in the UK/EU there are a set of regulations that seek to preserve employment even when the business shuts down or is transferred. See "Transfers of Undertaking".

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 894 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Yup. 60 million UK. The rest of the world would never read THOSE kinds of papers anyway........

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I also think politicians have to held to account for their part in creating, enabling and cynically exploiting this toxic media culture

    Some of them, I think, not all. Tony Blair would clearly have made a pact with the Devil and convinced himself he was on the side of the angels.

    Cameron, I suspect, had a deeper and more explicit arrangement with Murdoch than we yet know.

    Many others were simply cowed into silence. Which makes Tom Watson's campaign all the more admirable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

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