Not being an Adonis myself I shouldn’t pass remarks on Rupert Murdoch’s looks, but let’s just say what he’s been denied in physical attractiveness has been more than made up for in wealth. The man is rich beyond your comprehension and mine, and he’s planning to get a lot richer by controlling even more of the media world which shapes our thinking.
The BBC, itself a powerful player in world-view shaping, is very excited at the news that’s come tumbling out about Rupert’s soon-to-die News of the World, and how some of those working for that paper appear to have been eavesdropping on vulnerable people: the relatives of the two little girls murdered in Soham, the relatives of people killed in the London 7/7 bombings, the relatives of Briitish soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Adding a vinegar twist of politics, one of those at the heart of this phone-tapping scandal and due for arest today was one Andy Coulson, former Director of Communications for British PM David Cameron. You could tell me that Cameron didn’t know, even with the help of MI5, that Coulson and Co were maybe up to dodgy or illegal practices, but you can’t stop me falling around laughing if you do. The Labour Party look and sound like they’ve smelt blood, Cameron and his cronies look and sound like schoolboys caught behind the bike-shed, and words like “disgusting” and “contemptible” are flying around as Britain goes into yet another spasm of moral outrage.
Personally, my indignation engine doesn’t fire on this one. I’ve never believed that people who hacked into the phone of the heir to the throne so they could tell an eager nation about his longing to become a tampon had the interests of that nation at heart. So is this latest news disgusting? Yep. Is it predictable? Totally.
The government which is now keen to distance itself from the “disgusting” activities of people who work for Murdoch, in an earlier incarnation under one M Thatcher tapped the phones of millions of people in Britain and Ireland, among whom there must have been relatives of dead soldiers, parents of people whose children were murdered and other grieving, fragile people. In fact there was a time here when people would have got indignant if you’d suggested their phone wasn’t being tapped. What’re you saying, that I’m not important enough for the government to want to overhear my every word?
Besides, we gave up on privacy a long, long time ago. When we urged the authorities and private companies to install more and more CCTV cameras to watch our every move, when we bought mobile phones that could tell other people where we are, when we okayed satellite cameras that can see the flakes of paint on our living-room window – that’s when we gave up. Few things would please me more than to see the Murdoch empire collapse in a pile of choking dust. But it ain’t gonna happen, because The News of the World is just one among a whole herd of Murdoch cash cows, and cutting its throat is a long, long way from The End. Want a bitter truth? Murdoch and his mates will go on being very, very rich as long as we go on buying the products of people we say we despise.