Opinionista Simon Williamson 12 July 2011

How dare they accuse Murdoch of being evil, when they pay him to be

“Oh you vile bigots, you festering heaps of hypocrisy, you self-righteous pestilential piles of …” Enough already! In the post-apocalyptic scorched Earth following the supernova death of News Of The World, we need to remember it is the ordinary people who paid Rupert Murdoch to be the dark master of the media.

Rupert Murdoch, will probably get away with whatever shenanigans he is found guilty of as his closeness to the establishment will probably end up saving his arse, along with his family members, colleagues and serfs who rule and run The Empire that is Newscorp. And Britain will sigh, blaming the indiscernible distance between really rich people and the country’s leaders – which is sometimes chasm-like (Labour and The Daily Mail) or ant Olympics long jump length, such as The Sun and whoever old Rupert is into at the time.

The Empire’s Rebekah Brooks, James Murdoch and their servants (yes, capitalism extraordinaire pays its staff unlike the slaves overseen by the Huffington Post commies) have taken on and beaten a series of British politicians. The ones who have hit back, such as Clare Short and Chris Bryant, have been publicly branded “fat and jealous” and asked why they weren’t on Clapham Common (a notorious London pick-up spot for gay men) after dark respectively. It doesn’t pay to screw with the bloke who can call you a prat really loudly.

The News of the World, Britain’s ex-largest Sunday newspaper, has been tapping into grieving parents’ and terror victims’ families voicemails and all sorts of terrible things, and the country has indignantly ridden its hysterical herd of high horses into battle the nefarious company which, ironically, it has paid to provide scandalous entertainment for the last 168 years.

Yep. The main reason for NOTW’s success is not the brain of Rupert Murdoch, nor (the biggest justification for the return of public flogging) Brooks, but the British public which has been purchasing papers detailing just how many hairdressers Ashley Cole has notched up on his bedpost, the direction of Cherie Blair’s newest identifiable wrinkles or just how little Tanqueray Prince Phillip puts away before he slags off the Chinese. Indignance at the fact that the tabloids have now tapped into ordinary members of the public and not just famous or appropriately knockable people is a serious case of NIMBY (not in my back yard) – we don’t mind the media digging through JK Rowlings’ trash or Kate Moss’ nose, or paying some village idiot to confess how he got two woman pregnant in one menage-a-trois, but don’t the bastards dare do anything unethical to someone we don’t usually abuse.

While NOTW and its peers are permitted to lay into just about any public figure as politicians, celebrities and people who have bumped uglies with them will testify, the line between those who may be abused by the press and those who may not is somewhat blurry.

Yet it is those who now accuse Newscorp of becoming this monolithic government-running autocracy who have created it. No one is under any illusion that much of what is said in tabloids is trash – as reading an article headlined “Drogba swears he will leave” most likely details that he is going to go back to the Ivory Coast to see his family at Christmas. Cellulite-clad legs carry people to corner shops to purchase tabloids which show that Geri Halliwell has… erm, cellulite, in pics taken with a x1,000,000 zoom lens held by someone sitting in Portsmouth while she holidayed in Southampton. This kind of reported nonsense is not new. So why, oh why, did any member of the public think that this sort of schadenfreude or self-righteous entertainment would stop at public punching bags like mid-level MPs, actors who got fat, people who sell their dignity and Robbie Williams? When was an ethical line ever drawn between secret cameras filming Max Mosely’s Nazi butt-slapping and ordinary people like you and me?

The phone hacking scandal has reminded us how shamefully some in the press behave, but are we really only going to whine about it now that it affects people who we might like, or feel sorry for?

Admittedly, Murdoch probably shouldn’t have been given the space in which to operate to this extent, but the fault does not lie entirely with the British government or Ofcom (the communications regulator). The manner in which this press is created – terror victims’ voicemails, a bribed waiter to tell us what Frank Lampard had for lunch and Victoria Beckham’s warts and all – is largely due to the fact that ?0.90 x 2.7 million was inserted into NOTW coffers every day, motivating more of the same sensationalism, gathered by virtually any means.

People want first-hand drama and The Empire regularly sates them. How dare they accuse Murdoch of being evil, when they pay him to be? DM


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