Crocodile tears over phone hacking
The media dam has burst on phone hacking. And the waters of condemnation are gushing freely from those organisations who had previously ignored the story.
But I detect something less than pure, or honest, in these outpouring of outrage.
Here’s the point: why are these individuals and institutions speaking out now, when we have known of the outlines of this scandal for months, if not years?
We are told that the revelation that the phones of murder victim families, terrorism survivors and grieving military relatives might also have been hacked changes the nature of the offence in a fundamental way.
Let’s consider this for a moment. The implication here is that the hacking of the phones of actors, footballers and politicians – allegations we have known about for a long time – were not of great importance and unworthy of condemnation.
The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of this position is plain. Why should it be a gross offence to illegally hack the phone of Milly Dowler, but not Chris Bryant, or Hugh Grant?
There’s another point here. Without the campaigning of hacked celebrities and politicians the truth about what the News of the World had been up to would probably never have come out.
After The Guardian broke the hacking story in July 2009, the police were doing nothing. The Crown Prosecution Service was asleep. The Press Complaints Commission was useless. Downing Street had hired one of the prime suspects as press secretary. The Labour leadership was afraid of upsetting News International.
What really shattered the cosy establishment conspiracy of silence (as well as the heroic journalism of The Guardian’s Nick Davies) was civil litigation by celebrities such as Sienna Miller which forced the police to reveal the incriminating information that they had been suppressing for so long.
Those right-wing commentators and newspapers who are now shedding copious tears over the distress of ordinary families hacked by the Screws should be thanking those celebrities and politicians for the role they have played in bringing this disgrace to light.
Or do they still regard these individuals as essentially fair game for whatever dark arts Fleet Street might have up its sleeve? I suspect that the fresh media tears being shed over phone hacking are of the Crocodilian variety.Tagged in: crocodile, Guardia, Nick Davies, pcc, phone hacking, police
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