This Murdochgate story keeps twisting. Custard-piegate is just the latest of many tagged appendages it’s acquired in the last week or so. The Nolan Show ran a piece on it, which ran for twenty minutes this morning and got no callers. Yet this afternoon the Telegraph’s fantastically well executed live blog was up to 7589 comments 7589 comments and 2,309 Tweets.
Despite the miscasting of the story as a David (Ed Milliband) and Golliath (Murdoch, R) ‘epic’, this week’s Spectator has some keen observations to offer. Charles Moore, quotes a bit of Marx, with regard to the unloved (by himself at least) News of the World:
Defenders of such papers always say how ‘robustly’ they advance the cause of the many against the few, but in fact they have retarded it. They do their best to create what the Marxists call ‘false consciousness’ among the many whilst their owners and bosses establish collusive relationships with the powerful.
All that has been lacking in the past is common sense. The Prime Minister should keep talking privatedly to media folk, but abandon the idea that even the most exalted are appropriate mates. He is a public figure, 24/7. His every relationship is subject to public scrutiny until such time as he returns to public life, when maybe we can all be friends.
So far, so good. But Richard Lambert is yet another captain of the Press industry, who takes a more robust view of what his old profession part in current sins than either of his two former Fleet Street colleagues:
What’s needed is a successor body that is much more independent of the industry and much better resourced than the present version.
That means having a chairman who is willing to make waves, and so is not appointed – as at present – by the industry. It means an annual budget that would be significantly increased from the current £1.8m ($2.9m): had she not resigned, a good rule of thumb might have been five times Rebekah Brooks’ annual pay.
It means having the capacity and the willingness to investigate, rather than simply arbitrating existing disputes, which is all the present PCC tries to do.
And crucially he concludes:
The newspaper industry, once it recovers its poise, will object to the cost and powers of any such body: we will read much sanctimonious twaddle about the threats to its vital role as tribune of the people. The politicians will forget their current mood of bravado, and be reluctant to go head to head with a media that they have been brought up to fear. So if anything is going to be done, the time to get started is now.
That’s a key worry. As all these stones get overturned, all manner of strange and sometimes ugly creatures are scrabbling out from underneath… But it will require a multiplicity of wills to ensure the industry (not to mention those in politics who have devolved far too much of their own native political sense to such powerful elites), brings itself back on keel.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty