Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Scapegoating Murdoch

In Levitical law, it was customary to send a goat into the wilderness after the Chief Priest had symbolically laid the collective sins of Israel upon it. It is not the same as a sacrificial lamb, which had to be pure and spotless: the goat was scraggy, matted, and had clearly lived a few years.

A little like Rupert Murdoch.

There is (as yet) no evidence at all that he was personally aware or had sanctioned any illegality in the acquisition of information. But the assumption of guilt is evident, so much so that he appears to be failing the ‘fit and proper persons’ test for the takeover of BSkyB.

The man has a papal knighthood, for Pete's sake: he is an esteemed member of the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great. If Rupert Murdoch is not ‘fit and proper’ to run BSkyB, why was he ever ‘fit and proper’ to be so honoured by the Pope, let alone run The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and The News of the World? And who, in any case, presumes to be ‘fit and proper’ to appoint those who are ‘fit and proper’ to determine the fitness and properness of those who can own the media?

His Grace asks because he got into a slight Twitter spat with Alastair Campbell a few days ago. Mr Campbell tweeted that the Mail Group was by far the worst offender when it came to using illegal methods to get a headline. His Grace thought that libellous, and said so. Mr Campbell courteously tweeted the response that his source was the Information Commissioner, and so His Grace foraged around to uncover the reports (here and here), and duly apologised to Mr Campbell for ever doubting his honesty and integrity. The reports are illuminating:

The Daily Mail comes out top of the league table, with a colossal 952 incidents of illegal activity executed by 58 different journalists. When you add these to the infringements of its sister paper The Mail on Sunday, we get a collective guilt of 1218 illicit dealings in personal data by 91 separate journalists belonging to the Mail Group.

Alastair Campbell is right: ‘When it comes to the trade in illegally obtained information, the Mail Group is worst.’

These statistics dwarf the crimes and misdemeanours of the News of the World, which in 2006 had a recorded 182 incidents by 19 journalists. Doubtless the past five years have seen a steady increase in these illicit dealings, but, pace News International, with total impunity.

Lord Ashcroft’s own analysis is equally illuminating. He observes:
My real sadness is that this both reports should have received such scant reporting from the press. It is understandable, perhaps, that few people would wish to stand up and be counted given what we all know goes on and to which so many blind eyes are turned. But ‘What price privacy?’ and ‘What price privacy now?’ should have featured large in the open debate as to what is truly acceptable in the pursuit of the public interest as opposed to what is acceptable in satisfying the prurient interest of the public.
For those who know how these things work (‘dark forces’ and all that), it is perhaps unsurprising that the press didn’t report any of this at the time, even though Lord Ashcroft clearly discloses that the illegal activities of 305 journalists may jeopardise national security and involve members of the Royal Household.

Only yesterday did that concerning revelation get the headlines it merited.

News International is clearly guilty of abusing trust, breaching data protection legislation, and compromising the journalistic standards as set out by the PCC. According to the Information Commissioner, this has been known for some time. But the unrelenting condemnation of NI titles, and the blackening of Murdoch’s name – and his alone – rather suggest another agenda on the part of those who stand to gain from the demise of Rupert Murdoch and the fall of his media empire.

Why is Paul Dacre still considered a ‘fit and proper’ person to run The Daily Mail? Is he really unaware that 58 of his journalists are implicated in criminal activity?

If there is to be a full judge-led inquiry into phone-hacking, please do not let it stop with Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. And neither should we seek to scapegoat James or Rupert Murdoch. The Information Commissioner and Lord Ashcroft have made it known that the contagion is far more widely spread, and so the sins of hundreds of journalists and their editors and proprietors must also come under very close scrutiny. As Disraeli once observed: ‘The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes.’

He obviously knew.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I not write in thinking that this is the same Paul Dacre who heads the PCC? You couldn't make it up.

12 July 2011 at 11:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The counting is out, you've missed the 30 by weekend magazine from another 4 journo's.

12 July 2011 at 11:33  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace, Rupert may be a papal knight but he is certainly no saint.

That apart, if the News Group where to be evicted from Britain, or if on the otherhand Rupert decides to de-camp completely, what next for his mastheads?

No doubt an Arab princeling would seize the Times titles for his own personal muezzin cry, enabling M/s Gledhill to be replaced by an intense and burqa clad Islamist. Perhaps the Sun titles would appeal to a former colonel in the KGB, keen to explain the post-Soviet logic of Russian expansionism. Polonium cocktails, anybody?

No, sometimes the devil you know is better than the alternatives. For all his current faults, Rupert was a key player in the Thatcher revolution. He broke the power of the Fleet Street print-unions and was an important supporter of Thatcher's similar achievements nationally. In addition, Rupert is a committed member of the Anglosphere. His world view is that of the Atlantic alliance and also of Australia's alliance with the USA. All these are important factors and relevant to the UK's own global positioning.

Perhaps it would be a mistake to throw the baby out with the bath-water, however disgraceful the recent behaviour of the News Group. Can Dave find it in his heart to give Rupert a second chance?

12 July 2011 at 12:02  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Rupert Murdoch and Julian Assange; both public purveyors of hacked secrets not their own. Yet one is lionised by the leftist media and one is vilified unmercifully.

BBC and Guardian - loathsome hucking fypocrites

12 July 2011 at 12:13  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Rupert is far better than the Left-wing press. It is they who ought to be investigated for corrupting the country's morals with relativism.

12 July 2011 at 12:56  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Let's have no tears for Rupe:

'Smithers - Release the Hounds!'

12 July 2011 at 13:49  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Now there's a turn of events: tip off from Mr A.Campbell leads to Abp Cranmer denouncing the scapegoating of Mr R.Murdoch and Son.

(And in my view rightly, or writely.)

Anyhow, if Mr R. is palpably a living knight, is that as irrevocable as a deceased person's sainthood under 21c. papal process?

It would be easier to yield to Mr bluedog's manly plea in mitigation for Mr R., than to give Becky's friend, Mr Cameron, yet another second chance to sully the party of which he is held out as the leader.

12 July 2011 at 13:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shurely dweadnortgh you wouldnt unleas the hounds on rupert the bear?

Why on the nation's favourite Rupe?

12 July 2011 at 14:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely Mirror Group Newspapers comes out of this worst?

If you add the figures for the Mirror and People titles you get a whopping (not Wapping) 1663

12 July 2011 at 14:11  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

What larks if there were a league table of illegal activity executed by politicians and their advisers.

12 July 2011 at 14:24  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

One problem with simply counting incidents is that there is no clue as to the seriousness or nature of those incidents. Are some the equivalent to the "low level crime" which, in policing terms would normally be ignored? Are others the equivalent of leaving a lap-top in an unlocked parked car where the person concerned hasn't taken reasonable steps to protect their property / data.
Looking at the figures for the Express and the Sun, which I find unexpectedly low, and noting that the Telegraph and Independent, along with the BBC, don't get a mention, I tend to assume that they are merely obeying the Eleventh Commandment!

12 July 2011 at 14:26  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Smoke, mirrors and knock-out blows: the BBC/Guardian mafiosa have ''gone to the mattresses'' and hope to be the 'last man standing' - just where will this end?

Congratulations Your Grace, for shining a light into such murky depths; albeit a gradual, teasing one.

12 July 2011 at 15:35  
Blogger Elwin Daniels said...

How dare Aleister Crowley, sorry Alistair Cambell, criticise anyone for anything after his role in selling the case for the Iraq war?

I do not mourn the passing of the News of the World, a filthy rag I never read but could not escape the fumes of, but as Peter Hitchens remarked, the really vile thing is how low much of British taste has fallen that such a muck rag could be sold at all.

Interesting to see how many notorious spivs, perverts and adulterers have jumped on their moral high horse bandwagon though. How careful they are to avoid criticising the READERS of the NOTW and SUN, without whose eager appetites for filth and gossip it would not be written up? Because that would not play well at the election. Moral high ground my FHA

12 July 2011 at 16:04  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

An interestingh post showing how deeply press corruption is ingrained in Britain and and seems to have been accepted. Certainly a more wide spread inquiry is need than just the News of the World.

On the issue of the Papal Knighthood. Sir Rupert Murdoch(KSG) is not a Roman Catholic but, I believe, an Anglican. At least he attended an Anglican school.

He was awarded his Papal Knighthood in 1967 when he married his second wife, Anna Torv, a Scottish-born Roman Catholic.

The Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great (Ordo Sancti Gregorii Magni), is one of the five orders of knighthood of the Holy See. The order is rarely bestowed on non-Catholics. It is given in recognition of personal service to the Holy See, unusual labours, support of the Holy See, and the good example set in their communities and country.

When Murdoch divorced Anna Torv in 1999 and remarried, aged 68 years, 19 days later the position of his Knighthood might have been reviewed. The Vatican may well review this again in the light of recent revelations but the wheels turn slowly in Rome.

Meanwhile we await fresh scandals and the unfolding of this nasty and sordid affair.

12 July 2011 at 16:24  
Anonymous Paul said...

Greed, graft and corruption...

12 July 2011 at 16:24  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Thankyou for that your grace , and informing of the word origin "scape goat".

MR campbell seems to be touching a lot of useually opposition media forms ?

12 July 2011 at 17:47  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

What has Pontificating Titles got to do with being fit and proper.

Heads should be hacked, not phones. There is nothing fit and proper about our whole stinking system.

12 July 2011 at 18:10  
Blogger len said...

Has anyone noticed that the 'lid is coming off' corruption and corrupt practices so to speak.
It seems all the dross is floating to the top so that it cannot escape notice.
I believe God is starting to expose the hypocrisy and the depravity of man.
The further we move away from God the worse it is getting and the more it will be exposed.
The least surprising factor seem to be the absolute distrust of the public of anyone in authority with the integrity to resolve the situation.

Isaiah 59 describes our present situation perfectly.

12 July 2011 at 18:14  
Blogger DanJ0 said...


12 July 2011 at 18:24  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Nicely put Len.

Does anybody know just how fit and proper on has to be, in order to get a Papal invitation to rub shoulders with Mugabe.

I would feel so out of place amongs the fit and proper, even though I am a bit of an old goat myself.

12 July 2011 at 18:28  
Anonymous Mark said...

Slight correction: It's the Mirror Group which is worst, not the Mail Group. The three Trinity Mirror Titles (Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People) have, between them, 1,626 recorded incidents.

12 July 2011 at 19:23  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...


The hypocrisy and depravity of man is as old as time itself and Isaiah 59 is surely a timeless commentary on the ways of the world.

12 July 2011 at 19:32  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

If His Grace were to be interrogated by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee no doubt he would be asked if he had ever been entertained by News Corp!

12 July 2011 at 19:46  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

They bribed coppers hacked phones, yet still failed to uncover or report anything you can read about in the ukcolumn.

The ukcolumn is not mentioned in your list I note.

12 July 2011 at 20:11  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Only a truly blinkered individual could look at that list and then criticise two media outlets that aren't on it. If rather than pay for the bbc, you would pay for this lot, then good luck to you.

12 July 2011 at 20:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with ukcolumn being run by a bunch of conspiracy theorists and liars is it?

12 July 2011 at 21:00  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Conspiracy and lies, that old chestnut, we must need our news from a reputable tabloid, incase we start thinking for ourselves.

Re-open the News of the World.

We want the Truth!

The latest celebrity gossip!

Who is Jordan seeing now, lets get to the bottom of things, tap her phone, bribe a cop, does she wear nickers.

What a scoop!!

Republican, zionist with papal ties saves the west, move along, nothing to see here, don't get any ideas.

Conspiricy theorists, we have your number...

12 July 2011 at 21:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's a Zionist?

I know everyone gets called one these days so I lose track of who exactly you mean.

12 July 2011 at 21:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots I could say about this excellent post, but the question that most presses upon me has to be: where did you find such an apposite photo of Rupert the Goat?

12 July 2011 at 22:09  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Its just another tag, like secret society or illuminaty, jesuits and so on.

It helps sell the comics.

Not quite the same as sitting around a fire and telling stories of our own folk though.

12 July 2011 at 22:15  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I dont know about the hacking scandle of the great and good , but it appears the bloggers are having it as well, just been on Fawkes and had ,ping shutdown before I had even read piers morgan.

see what other reports come in .

13 July 2011 at 02:30  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

When are all of these offences to be prosecuted?

13 July 2011 at 08:37  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The man has a papal knighthood, for Pete's sake: he is an esteemed member of the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great.

Rewards of The Rich !

Murdoch is not BETTER than the others and in view of what you write Your Grace, he should be !

That aside, the newspapers are trashy yellow-press and deserve to become extinct. Since the Eu banned wrapping fish and chips in newsprint circulation has dropped.

There is simply no need for newspapers as organs of PR propaganda. They should be FREE since they are not worth buying.

When Harold Evans ran his Insight Team at The Sunday Times it meant something; Murdoch has made it a travesty of modular productions pre-printed and assembled in shrink wrap to sell consumerist fantasies.

The son of a rich Ozzie press baron with knighthood Rupert did the Oxford playboy thing before debasing everything he touched, and it is wonderful to see his life work crumble before his very eyes.

As for the Mail and the rest of the rabble including Channel 4 and BBC their day of reckoning approaches as people decide not to go digital in 2011 and refuse to have a TV licence

13 July 2011 at 09:12  
Anonymous Voyager said...

When are all of these offences to be prosecuted?

When EVIDENCE is assembled over the next 3-4 years

13 July 2011 at 09:13  
Blogger D. Singh said...

It must be recalled that on both sides of the Atlantic it was Murdoch that broke the Left-liberal hegemony.

If he falls the Left-leaning news media will fill the vacuum - and the forces of conservatism will be diminished.

13 July 2011 at 10:03  
Anonymous Voyager said...

It was Hitler who broke the Marxist hegemony in Central Europe but I don't hear you proclaiming him as a Saviour D Singh !

13 July 2011 at 12:58  
Blogger D. Singh said...

The Great Day

Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot!
A [Marxist] beggar on horseback lashes a [National Socialist]beggar on foot.
Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again!
The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.

With apologies to WB Yeats

13 July 2011 at 13:31  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Gnostic said...
Rupert Murdoch and Julian Assange; both public purveyors of hacked secrets not their own. Yet one is lionised by the leftist media and one is vilified unmercifully.

BBC and Guardian - loathsome hucking fypocrites

12 July 2011 12:13

What has the clear potential to turn even the strongest of stomachs is the holier then thou pomposity which proudly rides so high with the loathsome hypocrisy.

However defending anything to do with Murdoch, is like defending the least murderous NAZI war criminal, whilst munching on the least maggot ridden rancid apple in the barrel.

Only something as perfectly evil as The BBC, could make Murdoch look in any way preferable.

14 July 2011 at 01:47  
Anonymous Oswin said...

S. Singh @ 10:03

Sadly, what you say is only too true; one of those dilemmas where, in order to be 'good' we invite the devil to sup ... and, had Hitler largely contented himself with destroying the ''Marxist hegemony'' in Europe (nods to Voyager) he would doubtless be a hero today.

However, there is one point of hope: the ''forces of conservatism'' will not choose a wet, lefty rag, as a substitute for their traditional reading.

Something WILL arise, innocent of the past; either that, or as you intimate, millions will be disenfranchised of choice.

However, I don't really see that happening; too much money going to waste etc. Fingers crossed!

14 July 2011 at 01:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never read The Times since Rupert Murdoch bought it. I would not wish to meet any journalist, except Ruth Gledhill, as I find most people writing for, or featured in Murdoch's and other broadsheets over-rich, over-complacent and over-travelled. The "pamper me" travel supplements make me want to vomit.

14 July 2011 at 12:59  

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