Archive for December, 2012

DIal m for Murdoch by Tom Watson

‘dial m for murdoch’ provides all the detail about the phone hacking scandal. it is written by one of the victims who pursued the perpetrators. it was published before the Leveson inquiry concluded, and to me it is a depressing confirmation of the overwhelming influence that power and money can have on societies such as ours.

The book however has a much happier, even celebratory tone. It gives you the impression that at the time of publication, Tom Watson the co-author in whose voice the book is written, felt vindicated. After years of cover ups, you get the impression he feels Rebekah Brooks et al will get their come-uppence.

Unfortunately I was reading it at the time Leveson published his recommendations. Their weakness seemed eerily predictable based on the history of cover ups and cop outs that characterise the previous inquiries documented in the book.

For readers that want to believe in democracy, that never wanted to buy the Marxist take on the power of capital, or that want to believe the press is an important foundational pillar of a free society, the book is devastating.

For readers that believe there is a need for a strong bureaucracy and independent regulators, including of the press, the book is further confirmation of both the need for these institutions and the reasons why they dont exist.

Strong civil society institutions don’t suit the rich and powerful or the politicians that live off them.

A big question raised by the book for readers outside the UK is why have there been no reports of similar behaviour by the press in other countries. The Murdoch press is huge in other countries, as it is in the UK, and presumably is under the same pressures of circulation and profit.

Have there been no reports in other places because it doesn’t happen or because it hasn’t been discovered? If it doesn’t happen is it because of regulation or the ethics of the press? Both are non-existent so neither is a good explanation. Perhaps it’s more likely to be to do with the way mobile voicemail works in the uk – it may be easier to break into than elsewhere.

Whatever the case, this question does give us an antidote to the depression causing poison offered by the book. it offers some hope that despite the gutter press, the power of money, and the do anything to win attitude of politicians, this situation is not inevitable. The fact it hasn’t emerged elsewhere suggests its a choice individuals made, sanctioned by their organisation, in the UK whereas similar individuals, in similar situations in similar organisations, have not made that choice elsewhere.

That can be read as a message of hope.


December 30, 2012 at 5:58 am Leave a comment


December 2012
« Nov   Feb »

Posts by Month

Posts by Category