A lot of people have been asking me why I haven’t commented on Rupert Murdoch and the News of the World issue. Actually, that’s utter bullshit, nobody’s asked me, but I have made a point of avoiding writing on the topic for one clear reason: it’d be redundant. Yes, I am a loudmouthed blogger who thinks that Murdoch is the biggest scumbag this side of Skaro (Davros is a close second), but my reasons for disliking him do not relate to this issue, and I hope that none of my readers need my poorly written polemics to fully appreciate how slimy and immoral he’s been. Anyone who fails to understand why Rupert Murdoch should be held in the utmost of contempt after this should not, in my opinion, be expected to voice a sound opinion on anything.
Why, then, am I suddenly writing about the bespectacled ballbag? Well, partially for the page-hits, since journalists seem to be going to near Murdochian lengths to get any information on him whatsoever, short of phone hacking of course. But partially to speculate as to whether this speaks to the larger issue of the Murdoch press: the idea that they’ve become infallable. The phone-hacking scandal has been in the news for months now, but only when the most indefensibly dispicable crimes of NewsCorp came to light did the issue gain more pace and ultimately result in the demise of the News of the World newspaper. When it became apparent that politicians, like noted sausage-enthusiast John Prescott, had been victims of phone hacking, the world simply chortled at the government ending up with egg on their face (all but Prescott who, of course, ate it) and utterly overlooked the violation of privacy that lead to it. Yes, politicians have power that some will abuse, they’re human; but that’s exactly the point, they’re human! Regardless of corruption, they have a right to privacy just as any of us do, corruption should be uncovered through the meticulous investigation that the field of journalism was reknowned for, but not through violations as blatant as this. Not only is that illegal and immoral, it’s also straight-up lazy. It’s the same for celebrities, they have a personal life that gossip magazines love to report on, but any details should be obtained through legal means, not through a total disregard for their basic privacy.
Really, the downward spiral of the News of the World should’ve been months ago when the allegations, and then vindication, of phone hacking became apparent. The discovery that they had also hacked the mobile phone of Milly Dowler after her disappearance should’ve dealt the death blow to the Murdoch press, the final nail in the coffin; and undoubtedly the discovery would’ve been made much faster had the scrutiny that’s only now being applied to NewsCorp begun at the start of the scandal. Instead, NewsCorp was, through the inaction of the public, allowed to partially recover from the scandal before it was reignited by the discovery of Milly Dowler’s phone being hacked.
You can make the argument that a public figure or politician should be totally transparent to the general public, whereas a private citizen has no such obligation and so should be permitted normal privacy. I agree that politicians should indeed have no skeletons, but only in their capacity as politicians, outside of their office they should be permitted exactly the same rights as the rest of us. The defence of uncovering corruption does not change that. If they’re corrupt, then the journalists should go to all legal lengths to uncover it, there’s bound to be evidence of wrongdoing, otherwise the politician in question must be bloody good at it. I would rather have corrupt politicians than journalists who can violate people’s basic rights so flippantly with no recourse; for every instance of corruption amongst politicians, there was a thousand personal issues paraded in broad daylight that anyone with an ounce of sympathy would say they should’ve been allowed to keep quiet. It’s not proportionate, and we can’t make one rule for some and another for the rest.
As far as Murdoch’s suitability for a broadcasting license goes, that’s really a legal matter and thus not something I could comment on with any degree of expertise. I have, however, discovered that as the head honcho at NewsCorp, the decision of various regulators to grant licenses does take into account Murdoch’s character. If he knew nothing about the phone hacking, which is likely the story he’ll stick to, then he appears incompetent. If he was fully aware of the actions being taken, then he is malevolent. Neither case reflects well on Murdoch. I doubt this is enough to bring down the rest of NewsCorp, but with ongoing investigations it’s entirely possible that new twists and turns are to come.