Friday, 15 July 2011

Phone Hacking Scandal: I am Bored of it

Am I the only one in the country who is bored to death of the ongoing hysteria about the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s  media empire? I hope not.

So it turns out that there were some scumbag journalists at The News International —or is it News Corporation (do you care?)—who hacked into phones of politicians, relatives of dead soldiers; and an adolescent who was murdered many years ago by a psycho and who would have sunk into well deserved obscurity had her father not been grilled about his sexual practices in the court by the defence lawyer and the grilling—note this—not reported by the newspapers in detail, lamenting about the invasion of the man’s privacy!

Try as I might I can’t generate outrage about hacking of the dead girl’s mobile. Did it harm anyone? Certainly not the girl, who was probably dead by that time. It was no more in poor taste than, say, if the scumbag journalist had hacked into (he probably did) the mobile of a scumbag Manchester United footballer who had group sex with some scumbag whore who called herself a model.

As for the hacking into mobiles of the relatives of dead soldiers, I can’t help feeling that the journalists were wasting their time and money. I do not know what they were hoping to find out by dropping eves on the telephonic messages of the relatives. Don’t get me wrong; I mean no disrespect to the dead soldiers (although neither do I feel particularly proud of the fact that they died while fighting ill-advised, amoral and illegal wars; a substantial proportion of them was probably killed by the Americans’ friendly fire than by the Talibans in any case; also, getting killed, I would have thought, is the occupational hazard of being a soldier—you can’t go to the front and expect not to die; if you don’t want to take that risk I suggest you look for some other job, such as a middle ranking manager in the public sector). Were the journalists expecting to hear some startling revelations about the UK war strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq (and learn, instead, that the reason NATO ended up bombing a marriage procession in Waziristan—killing several goatherds, farmers and donkeys—instead of the hideout of Al Qaeda terrorists was the map of the region was held upside down)?

It was interesting to see how the politicians of both the main parties (OK, let’s make it three—let’s include the Lib Dems) descended on the Murdochs faster than vultures swoop on rotting carcass.

Ed Miliband had a good crisis. He finally found a topic on which he could say something that was not a cure for insomnia. He even went to whichever town the dead Mili Dowler’s family lives and spent time speaking with the family, making sure that the cameras were flashing,  trying to look sympathetic, concerned, supportive, and outraged at the same time (managing, instead, to look like a man facing a quandary as to whether he should give priority to stifle a yawn or suppress a fart). This guy, who has the personality of a mannequin and charisma of a box of Kellogg’s cornflakes, obviously thinks that this scandal is his opportunity to get his popularity ratings up. In his dreams! The chances of Ed MiliYawn (whose only significant achievement before he defeated his unpleasant older brother to become the Labour leader was he was good at the Rubik’s Cube), becoming Mr. Popular are about as good as Rayan Giggs has of getting his sex addiction cured. MiliYawn is a pallid, humourless bore who, no matter how hard he tries, will always looks like a grocer’s clerk.

Unlike boring Ed, David—‘Call me Dave’—Cameron had a bad crisis. Dave is making the discovery that this time round bullshit won’t baffle brain. When the going got tough Dave legged it to the Welsh assembly leaving the cultural secretary to face the music. And whom was Dave avoiding? Ed MiliYawn, who has the oratorical skills of a chimpanzee with a cleft palate. Perhaps Dave needs time to organize his thoughts so that he can come up with a semi-plausible excuse as to why he employed Andy Coulson, who came with a warning round his neck that he was about as trustworthy as a hungry praying mantis. Then there is the minor matter of Cameron accepting favours from Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law, Matthew Freud, such as travelling in his (Freud’s) private jet. Cameron’s mate Rebecca Brooks is in a spot of bother, seeing as she was the editor of the tabloid when the journalists hacked into Mili Dowler’s mobile. (It is interesting the words Brooks chose to respond when the news broke out. ‘I hope you realize,’ Brooks told the News International employees, ‘that it is inconceivable that I could have known anything about it.’ You see, you are not allowed to conceive that Rebecca Brooks could have known about, let alone authorized, the phone hacking. And if you have the temerity to do so you have obviously taken leave of your senses. All of this, insofar as I understand it, is not the same as saying ‘I did not know about it.’) But don’t fear: Teflon Dave is smooth, smoother than snot on the doorknob. Nothing sticks to him.

The despicable Nick Clegg—the shitty flake on the underpants of existence—advised the Murdochs to do the decent thing and give up their bid to take complete control of B SkyB. Doesn’t that take the biscuit? Nick Clegg asking Murdoch to do the decent thing! Here is newsflash for the worm. If people always did the decent thing they would offer him rat poison.

And finally, Gordo, full 14 months after he blew away Labour’s mandate, turned up to deliver what he obviously hoped was a punch in the solar plexus, telling how devastated he and his wife were when The Sun splashed the news that his younger son had Cystic Fibrosis on its front pages. Gordon was in tears, he told the BBC interviewer. He now wants this investigated. This raises two questions in my mind. First: why did he not do it himself when he was in power? Actually I know the answer to this one. The election was round the corner and Gordo was thinking that it wouldn’t be a bad thing if Murdoch, with however many millions of lobotomised morons who read his shitty tabloids, supported him (he didn’t and they didn’t). Second: is it good use of taxpayers’ money to find out how The Sun found out about the medical condition of Gordon’s son? I don’t give a tinker’s cuss how The Sun got to know about it. The tabloid didn’t lie; the child does have the condition. And it wasn't as if the son was going to feel upset about the news, seeing as he was only a few days old. Also, I don’t think he is going to be scarred for the rest of his life, which, from what I have read about Cystic Fibrosis in WikiPedia, is not going to be very long, by the fact that The Sun published news about his condition when he was born. I should hazard a guess that the boy, in years to come, would have many other things to occupy his mind than worrying about what The Sun published about him (all of which was true in any case) when he was born. As for Gordon’s delicate sensibilities and hurt feelings, all I can say is ‘Really!’ While Gordo may have reasons to hate Murdoch’s intestines and is filled with a desire to seek revenge, I don’t think tax payers should foot the bill for his vendetta.  

Murdoch stood by the flame-haired Rebecca Brooks, the ‘fifth daughter’ of the Murdoch household, for as long as he could (although not everyone in the Murdoch household, it would appear, shares Rupert's warm feelings towards her; Elizabeth Murdoch, Rupert's daughter from his second marriage, is reported to have used language not befitting a lady to describe what Brooks did to News International; however, seeing as News International is reported to have lost £ 40 millions over this, one can understand her fury). When the scandal first broke out, everyone was convinced that Brooks was toast. But the tycoon decided to sacrifice a newspaper rather than get rid of Brooks, who was the editor of The Sun when Mili Dowler’s mobile was hacked into by the hacks in the tabloid. 

This suggests that Murdoch has at least one quality of a dog: loyalty. 

Which none of the leaders of the political parties would recognise if  it bit them on the ass. Both Cameron and Mili-Ywan were schmoozing up to Murdoch until the scandal broke out. Both had accepted the invitation to the summer party of the News International. Cameron apparently wines and dines regularly with Brooks (Mr. Brooks is an old chum from Eaton) and according to Guardian (who is dishing up dirt on him on a daily basis) even invited the disgraced Andy Coulson for his summer party after Coulson had to resign his job at 10 Downing Street. However neither has lost any time in riding the moral high horse (although, for once, Ed stole a march over Dave) and lecturing Murdoch on ethics. Cameron has publically distanced himself from Brooks and has withdrawn the invitation extended to her for one of his parties. I am a bit unsure as to what adjective will sutaibly describe Dave, but the phrase ‘piece of shit’ comes to mind.

Interestingly, Murdoch was compelled to let Brooks go after the second largest stake holder in the News Corporation, one Saudi Prince, with a caterpillar moustache, who goes by the improbable name of Al- Waheed bin Talal Alsaud (a nephew of the Saudi king who presides over a country that is obviously a paragon of democracy and journalistic freedom) came out against Brooks. Giving his esteem opinion to the BBC about the phone hacking scandal the prince said, ‘For sure she [Brooks] has to go, you bet she has to go.’ The Saudi Prince further explained (I am having some difficulty in keeping a straight face as I type this): ‘Ethics to me are very important. I will not deal with a lady or a man that has any sliver of doubt on his or her integrity.’

So the Murdoch media empire is reeling. They have closed down The News of the World, which was one of his profit-making newspaper (unlike The Times and The Sunday Times which are haemorrhaging millions every year) and he has abandoned his bid to take the complete control of BSkyB. At least for the time being (although with almost 40% stake in the company, he remains a major stakeholder). Murdoch himself arrived in the UK, his face like a portentous mushroom. And now he will have to face the Commons media committee hearing. Facing aggressively low intelligence can be exhausting, but I don’t think that would be enough to finish off Murdoch—who will probably have to drop his IQ by half to be twice as clever as the lot of them. It is also ironical that the MPs who were fleecing the taxpayers for years by claiming money for their moats, duck ponds and wisteria (the Tories), nonexistent mortgages and fictitious second homes (Labours), and  packets of crisps and Mars bars (Lib Dems) are asking questions whether Murdoch is a fit and proper person to run BSkyB. Let me say this. If Boris Johnson is considered fit to be let out on a day release and be the mayor of London, I think Murdoch can run BSkyB).

The whole thing is a coup The Guardian. But one should be careful what one wishes for. Like The Times, The Guardian, too, loses money every year. And if the rumours that the Russian oligarch who now owns The Independent is thinking of distributing it free turn out to be true, The Guardian would be in trouble.

As for The News of the World, I never bought it, never read it, so I can’t really say whether its closure has left a vacuum which won’t be filled until The Sun goes out seven days a week.