Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Murdoch in the dock: the show trial of the century


Never in 40 years of British newspaper ownership has Rupert Murdoch faced questions in the High Court of Parliament. With his son James at his side, followed swiftly by Rebekah Brooks, this trial is likely to be one of the most-watched in broadcast history, if not live, certainly via YouTube. The fact that the phone hacking scandal has already forced a 168-year-old newspaper to close and claimed the scalps of media executives, the two most senior police officers in the country, and yesterday, very sadly, the life of the News of the World reporter who blew the whistle on Andy Coulson, ensures national focus and a global audience. Never before has an obscure Commons committee of tedious backbench MPs been thrust onto the world stage.

So serious is the crisis that the Prime Minister is abandoning the starving in Africa to take the helm of his coalition ship and steer it through the choppy waters. Yet it appears a tsunami is about to hit: if reports are true that he has himself breached the ministerial code, it will be for him to refer himself to the independent adviser on ministers’ interests. There is indeed a prima facie case to answer.

But it’s all a bit of a show. Rupert Murdoch owns three (non-profitable) newspapers and a minority share in BSkyB, the output of which is regulated by Ofcom. In what sense is this an ‘empire’ which exerts ‘too much power over British public life’? So much so that it needs dismantling, regulating and controlling?

It is manifestly true that News International is not ‘the only bad dog on the street’, so this trial must be extended to Paul Dacre and the Mail Group, to the Mirror Group, and to the BBC. It is, after all, about allegations of illicit data gathering in order to secure headlines. It is about the relationship between Parliament and the media, politicians and journalists, and prime ministers and proprietors. It is about the balance between power and scrutiny; influence and manipulation. Ultimately, it is about the right to express an opinion, because if the end result is statutory regulation of the press, another liberty will have been sacrificed to the lust of the state.

So, while the Westminster bubble forms a lynch mob and obsesses about Rupert Murdoch; and while the myopic masses scream for his head along with the scalps of James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks; let us not forget that the most egregious media manipulation emanates from the corridors of Broadcasting House, and more substantial abuses of power may be observed at the Mail and Mirror groups of newspapers.

Come on, Mr Whittingdale. Your time is at hand.

50 Comments:

Blogger The Gray Monk said...

Well said, your Grace. The entire Media circus needs to be hauled before this incestuous committee - itself a part of the problem - and the Mirror, Mail and BBC made to explain their sources, abuses and tactics. But let us not leave out the Guardian - whose hands are neither so clean, nor unscorched as they would like us to believe.

19 July 2011 at 09:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rupert Murdoch does not just own "three (non-profitable) newspapers and a minority share in BSkyB" his company News Corps owns a vast number of media groups and news channels... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_News_Corporation

19 July 2011 at 09:48  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

According to Wikipedia, Trinity News Group, the owners of the Mirror papers, is the largest news publisher in this country. To listen to the socialist hysterics, one would come to the conclusion that there is no other newspaper proprietor in the country besides Mr Murdoch. I'm just hoping that he eventually fights back and takes down some of the verminous claque (of socialist press and politicians) who are howling like a pack of rabid dogs around their cornered prey. If this doesn't explain why the bbc needs to be privatised, if not destroyed, then I don't know what ever will.

19 July 2011 at 09:59  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

I Have never felt concerned about the position of News International in the media industry. It has always been the BBC's monopoly which I find worrying.
The newspaper industry is generally responsive to readers requirements, if they don't give readers what they want, they buy a different paper.
The BBC, on the other hand, is responsive to no-one. More to the point, the BBC is free at the point of use; unlike a newspaper, you don't save any money if you decide not to watch it.
In my view the BBC monopoly should be split into two parts, entertainment and news, each having part of the licence fee and totally separate management.

19 July 2011 at 10:00  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

It was the strategic error committed by all Conservative governments since the 1970s to desist from privatising the BBC.

The BBC now has to be ‘lucky’ at each General Election.

19 July 2011 at 10:01  
Anonymous tony b said...

Were the BBC and the Guardian on this list if wrongdoers his grace published? Any evidence of wrongdoing by either? No, thought not. Certain people are just letting their prejudices do the talking.

19 July 2011 at 10:19  
Anonymous Elmo said...

True Your Grace, the BBC monopoly should be criticised, but Murdoch is one man. And one man with so much influence is worrying. Though one might argue that those at the BBC might as well be one man as they all think in the same fashion...

19 July 2011 at 10:28  
Anonymous MrJ said...

This is not so much a show as a curtain raiser, with the Chairman and committee of MPs unsuited to perform as MC. That is not to say that some entertainment (entertaining?) will not come out of it.

"The fact that the phone hacking scandal has already ... claimed ... the life of the News of the World reporter who blew the whistle on Andy Coulson..."

While the proceedings in the show trial are awaited, a question: The death may be a sad enough fact, but is it established fact that it was claimed by this scandal in the same sense as the "scalps"?

Or perhaps I have fallen into the trap of misreading.

19 July 2011 at 10:37  
Blogger Span Ows said...

tony b said...
Were the BBC and the Guardian on this list if wrongdoers his grace published? Any evidence of wrongdoing by either? No, thought not. Certain people are just letting their prejudices do the talking.


Non sequitur fest tony b. His Grace writes of regulation and control, the talk of the politicians constant harping (led by Milli minor) dismantling an 'empire' because it has too much control not becasue it did a bit of hacking like the other groups did.

19 July 2011 at 10:45  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Ok, I agree that this escapade will be nothing more than a waste of public money, but a message needs to be sent. This should send a shock wave through to those at the heart of the Establishment that Parliament is the supreme arbiter of public conduct.

Murdoch and his brood (and their ilk) need to be taken down a peg or two - Its is wrong that a person who is ineligible to vote in this country, to have so much influence in our country's affairs.

The most worrying aspect of all this is the complicity of the police and the culture of in-house cover-ups masquerading as self regulation.

If we can't have faith in the integrity of the people that head the police forces we have can't faith in society. At least, and unlike other media outlets, with Chris Patten at the BBC there is still hope that ovewrdue reform will be initiated.

19 July 2011 at 11:11  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"...the BBC monopoly should be criticised, but Murdoch is one man.."
But that man isn't funded out of taxation.

19 July 2011 at 11:41  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Murdoch is one man.."
But that man isn't funded out of taxation.


Of course he is if he makes/made money and so called 'reputation' here and pays no tax in this country and so little in his off shore tax hideouts.

19 July 2011 at 12:00  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Your Grace would do well to research the life of Jonathan Rees and the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan....On 10 March 1987 the body of a young private investigator called Daniel Morgan was found in the car park of a south London pub. An axe was embedded in his face.

and ask why Rees worked for NoW both BEFORE and AFTER the Trial and his network of corrupt Met Police Officers.

How far does this trail go back ? We have 1987 as a date and we now look at this 24 years later wondering how the met got Rees off the murder trial.

There have been five police investigations into the Morgan murder, the first of which is now admitted by the cops themselves to have been obstructed by police corruption

19 July 2011 at 12:05  
Anonymous Voyager said...

But that man isn't funded out of taxation.

News International doesn't pay tax it has offshore tax havens to escape HMRC

19 July 2011 at 12:06  
Anonymous bluedog said...

M/s Dreadnaught @ 11.11, at the risk of appearing 'lofty' and 'ethereal'it seems important to point out that an independent judiciary is available to hear any charges that may be brought before a court by the incorruptible Plod. The Murdochs are in effect to be subject to trial on charges that have not been brought. See 'Court of the Star Chamber' for precedence.

This communicant is uncertain whether your comment 'Parliament is the supreme arbiter of public conduct.' is deliberately ironic or not.

Justice must be seen to be done, and the HofC committee may yet act prejudicially to the Murdoch family's right to a fair trial.

19 July 2011 at 12:18  
Blogger Windsor Tripehound said...

Voyager said...

News International doesn't pay tax it has offshore tax havens to escape HMRC


What? Just like the Guardian Media Group?

19 July 2011 at 12:40  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

MrDog
at the risk of appearing 'lofty' and 'ethereal' (he-he - sorry!)

No irony at all bluedog - Parliament will hopefully realise that it is accountable to the electorate and the electorate expects it to show some spine and integrity in the face of bullies at home or abroad.

19 July 2011 at 13:01  
Anonymous Voyager said...

What? Just like the Guardian Media Group?

If that is so then it is so....if they cannot be bothered to pay tax then the Consumer must pay it for them in the form of VAT on newspapers

19 July 2011 at 13:08  
Anonymous Greg Tingey said...

Given that the BBC has many overtly christian religious programmes, especially on the radio.
Why are you so anti-BBC?
Murdoch is a far-right brute, cynically reminiscent of Oson Welles' "Citizen Kane".

Unpleasant as the Daily Mail is, the deliberate lying perpetrated by Murdoch papers over the years has earned my contempt, if no-one else's.

19 July 2011 at 13:10  
Blogger English Viking said...

Oh, Please, please let Camoron be finished.

19 July 2011 at 13:18  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Is Cranmer on holiday ? The tenor of recent posts seem devoid of theological context and very focused on journalism.

One might consider the impeding collapse of global financial markets, the insolvency of the USA, the collapse of the Italian Consigliere, the lack of independence in the German Constitutional Court, or even the strange absence of Britain from talks on Libya, to be issues worthy of discussion rather than the obsessional interest in a dysfunctional family and its insinuation into the body politic of Western pseudo-democracies

19 July 2011 at 13:49  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Watching the Select Committee.

Poor Sir Paul..Never trust the advice of underlings, my lad. A strategy that Ernst carried out thoughout his working career.

Fedorcio, more like Pinnochio. Don't you just luv Spin Dr's/ DPA's.

Systemised lying/liars. Up there with lawyers and politicians.

Ughhhhhhhh.

Ernst Blofeld

19 July 2011 at 13:50  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Voyager,

The whole of life is theology.

His Grace did cover Greece and other matters last week. But he is only one casket of ashes. If you would care to submit a draft article on any matter, His Grace would be happy to consider publishing it.

19 July 2011 at 14:00  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Hurrah.

The big event is starting.

Strange but today has been a bit like one of those boxing card events where you are waiting for the star turn.

This should be interesting.

E S Blofeld

19 July 2011 at 14:40  
Anonymous berserker-nkl said...

English Pensioner said:
'In my view the BBC monopoly should be split into two parts, entertainment and news, each having part of the licence fee and totally separate management'

People would only pay for 'Entertainment' they can find the news elsewhere.

Does anyone know of any dirt on that self satisfied rag of BBC'ites with the Polly Queen of sanctimonious 'lefty' trivia in seventh heaven at the opportunity for that crawly and weird Millipede. Cash for dirt please!

As others have said - there are more important things going on in the world and remember that Murdoch did actually save the newspaper industry.

Myself, I might go and see one of those nice Estate Agents today.

19 July 2011 at 14:56  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

john in cheshire said...
the verminous claque (of socialist press and politicians) who are howling like a pack of rabid dogs around their cornered prey. If this (... the verminous claque of socialist press and politicians ...) doesn't explain why the bbc needs to be privatised, if not destroyed, then I don't know what ever will."

You do make me laugh. So, so funny. All the BBC have done is report on this scandal. What would you have them do? Stay silent? Socialists - lol!

19 July 2011 at 15:13  
Anonymous Michael Fowke said...

I'm worried about the BBC more than anything. You can't escape its influence.

19 July 2011 at 15:26  
Anonymous Voyager said...

With James Murdoch as a Speak-Your-Weight Machine I can see why he dropped out of Harvard.......and the Old Man gives a convincing exposition of his Superannuated State.


James Murdoch is a total disaster - the sooner the Banks reorganise News Corporation the better

19 July 2011 at 16:08  
Blogger OldSouth said...

OS is old enough to remember the agonies of the Watergate scandal, and sends good wishes that Britain does not endure its own version of the same.

19 July 2011 at 16:08  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Speak you weight machine? That's excellent. May His Grace appropriate and tweet?

19 July 2011 at 16:16  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Voyager,

His Grace couldn't wait. He apologises. If he is later accused of harification, he will acknowledge his source.

19 July 2011 at 16:24  
Anonymous Dry Bones said...

"So serious is the crisis that the Prime Minister is abandoning the starving in Africa to take the helm of his coalition ship and steer it through the choppy waters."

Well he would wouldn`t he Cranmer, the choppy waters prelude a force ten which could sink HMS Cons, the poles have shifted for Cameron, the rocks are drawing nearer.

19 July 2011 at 16:24  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Dodo : ''All the BBC have done is report on this scandal'' and HOW!

Very narrow reporting I'd say; barely a mention beyond Murdoch.

It's a question of strategic targeting. Those posing the greatest threat to the BBC, and its allies, will be 'taken out' first; secondary targets will follow as and when.

Over the last couple of weeks His Grace has sought to denlineate the combatants, the rules of engagement and, the post-battle denoument. Everything we have witnessed since, has confirmed such postulations. Can you not see this?

19 July 2011 at 16:29  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Its shaking up an hornets nest, that will do for now, where is Al-waleed bin Talal.

What are all these Yachtsmen doing deciding the News for us, why they rape the planet.

19 July 2011 at 16:55  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Oswin

Frankly, no I can't see such a sinister strategy in play and disagree with this rather silly conspiracy theory. Sorry.

The BBC news I've been watching hasn't differed in breadth or focus to that of the other news channels. Initially, Mr Cranmer crticised them for the amount of coverage and then apologised as the gravity of the scandal unfolded. Did he change his mind again? I know he is somewhat prone to doing so.

19 July 2011 at 17:46  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Bit unfair offering an 80yr old an unsolicited shave , perhaps the traffic light windscreen cleaning business has diversified .

There are some things about the BBC which I both like and would defend and perhaps originates in the old school thinking , before it seemed to deem it had a rival rather than a competetor.

However given the payout figures are being paraded for phone hack some £20mn as far as I know (which is a considerable sum) although perhaps a little lateral is not £16mn for a 3 yr contract just as gross a payout . How the BBc became the palace of pravda is perhaps tragic , who could deny it doesnt develope TV talent and reporting . but then we find things like 115 sent to glastonbury , unclear payments and ridiculus salaries , projects/adventures that are hard to justify , and a sometimes glitzy and pimp my peak viewing time , approach .

Would the attenborughs and John simpsons of this world have been as good and global figures under a private system ? It is a difficult question , I would not wish to lose its ability to provide geniuine quality or even lose some challenging programming , or even its local qualities .
A slimmer and perhaps a less gross blowing of money as though it was a franchise of KIng Louis XIIII media , would be an effective repair .Public service broadcasting has some useful aspects , who could have done some of the wonderful BBC4 programs like atom, and yet why so many radio channels , and rubbish science programs . religous progamming is just about clinging on in radio , but it has no slot for serious theology or hsitory.

19 July 2011 at 18:03  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Has he changed his mind???

19 July 2011 at 18:05  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Span ows "It is manifestly true that News International is not ‘the only bad dog on the street’, so this trial must be extended to Paul Dacre and the Mail Group, to the Mirror Group, and to the BBC."

The "trial" is about the misdeeds, not the "control".

19 July 2011 at 18:46  
Anonymous Tony B said...

"His Grace did cover Greece and other matters last week. But he is only one casket of ashes. If you would care to submit a draft article on any matter, His Grace would be happy to consider publishing it"

Would you consider publishing one by me?

19 July 2011 at 18:49  
Anonymous berserker-nkl said...

Lets be clear - Cameron hasn't jaunted off to Africa because he cares about the starving people but because he wants to drum up trade now that the EU is collapsing. That's why China. He should now go to Brazil, Indonesia, the USa and Russia.

19 July 2011 at 19:01  
Blogger len said...

It has occurred to me that the 'phone hacking' scandal might have a lot wider implications than first imagined.
Knowledge is power and 'phone hacking' and intelligence gathering might not just be confined to the collection of material for the news.

19 July 2011 at 21:11  
Anonymous Tony B said...

well at least you got there in the end len :o)

19 July 2011 at 21:12  
Blogger len said...

Tony B,
Better late than never :)

19 July 2011 at 21:43  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace, the score so far: House of Commons, own goal.

19 July 2011 at 21:54  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

What a pity the Murdoch's were not facing Keith Vaz and the Home Affairs Committee:
http://ancientbritonpetros.blogspot.com/2011/07/room-at-top.html

20 July 2011 at 09:22  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Post deleted yet again - seems like Cranmer is exercising the same arbitrary power of censorship without explanation that he would deny to others.

20 July 2011 at 12:21  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Dreadnaught,

His Grace has deleted absolutely nothing.

20 July 2011 at 12:24  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

I thank Your Grace for clearing that up - I should have trusted my gut instinct in relation to HG's total integrity.

Respect Good Sir.

20 July 2011 at 12:29  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Mr. Dodo: @ 17:46 : so silly were my 'theories' that they were discussed on Radio 4's 'Media Programme' today: naturally, said theories were refuted ... but questions ARE being asked of the BBC!

20 July 2011 at 18:25  
Anonymous George Rolph said...

Rupert Murdoch wanted to have a kind of Fox News in Britain, as I understand it. The lefties hated that idea. The last thing they want is competition to their BBC.

Brown swore he would "get" Murdoch just before he left office.

Rebeka Brooks is a roaring feminist lefty.

Frankly, I think Murdoch was set up for a fall by the left and I would not be at all surprised if Brooks was a part of it.

What became clear during the hearing was that the Murdochs had no idea what was going on inside their little "empire" and so relied upon "trust" to see everything was running fine. That trust may well have been their undoing because it meant that he could be destroyed from within if anyone was so inclined. It seems some were and I am not buying for one moment Brooks had no idea this was going on under her watch.

I think eveyone is looking in the wrong direction on this one and being encouraged/manipulated into doing so.

That's my theory and I am sticking to it.

21 July 2011 at 05:29  

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