Rundle: to hell with The Sun, let it rot

News International is in crisis today, with open warfare breaking out between different sections of the British branch of the organisation.

As Rupert Murdoch returns to Britain to deal with the arrest of five more journalists and editors from The Sun, staff throughout the paper and the wider organisation speak of feeling betrayed, and having been sacrificed by News management, in a desperate attempt to limit the damage.

Five journalists and editors were arrested by police last Sunday morning, their homes raided simultaneously in five different counties. Those arrested were all senior staff, including the deputy editor, chief reporter, picture editor and senior foreign correspondent — in effect the core apparatus of the newspaper.

The arrests bring to 21 the number of people now arrested in the multibranching scandal. Four journalists had been arrested a fortnight ago. The nickings occurred following mass document handovers by NIG to the police.

The arrests demonstrate the degree to which the News scandal has changed, since most of the arrests concern not phone hacking but payments to police by journalists for information.

Though earning less disgust from the public than the hacking of murdered girls’ phones, the crimes are more serious, and multiple, since they potentially undermine the legal processes of the state. Potentially drawing in perversion of the course of justice and corruption of public officials, the arrests suggest the possibility of long prison sentences for anyone convicted.

The arrests have sent morale plummeting in The Sun and other newspapers in the News stable, with as many staff on stress leave as arrested, and the paper being put together by casuals and temps.

They’ve also created a fundamental breach in the organisation, as the arrests have come about following a mass handover of emails to the plod by News Corp — or more particularly by the Management and Standards Committee (MSG), the CHEKA-style internal terror group established after James Murdoch’s disastrous parliamentary committee appearances.

The MSG is designed to deal with the old Watergate problem — that it’s the cover-up, not the crime, that does it for you. But that adage ignores one reason that there are cover-ups in the first place — to preserve unity among criminals. News’s decision to hand over 3 million emails, rather than leave the cops to dig them all out, has essentially handed to the wolves anyone involved in operational corruption.

Since that reaches up to the editorial levels, it’s clear that the strategy is designed to shield the Murdoch family and close associates from direct responsibility. Indeed, at its most drastic, the intent is triage: to cut the British operation off altogether, and shield the US wing, with its huge interconnections to Fox, etc.

Such a disconnect is necessary, as the FBI is now investigating News Corp under the foreign corrupt practices act, which would allow for massive fines in the US for activities taking place elsewhere.

That prospect strikes terror into the heart of News Corp for it would simply unravel the group altogether, Arthur Andersen-style.

The Sun attempted to hit back, with a column from political writer Trevor Kavanagh, but it was covertly directed as much against News management as it was against the police that it accused of acting as a “witch-hunt”, putting the UK “behind ex-Soviet states on press freedom.”

Thundered Kavanagh:

It is absolutely right the company co-operates with police on inquiries ranging from phone and computer hacking to illegal payments.

… But some of the greatest legends in Fleet Street have been held, at least on the basis of evidence so far revealed, for simply doing their jobs as journalists on behalf of the company.”

And with the police clearly determined to shift all blame from police-journalist corruption onto the latter, Kavanagh made what was possibly the first recorded concern by The Sun about police monitoring, noting huffily:

So when the police get matters so far out of proportion, we are entitled to ask: who polices the police?

Why should questions about police procedures be handled solely by the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is notoriously reluctant to rule against police?”

For anyone looking on from the sidelines, and wanting to get beyond the understandable glee at seeing this dishonest, thuggish organisation have another power turned on it, the events raise mixed feelings.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Companies, Journalism

24 Responses

Comments page: 1 |
  1. Am I the only person mean-spirited enough to wonder, did Rebekah Brooks have a baby by surrogate in an attempt to shield herself from potential imprisonment, if she’s charged and convicted?

    by puddleduck on Feb 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm

  2. A thoroughly enjoyable spray Guy.

    Watching the decline and fall of the house of Murdoch, has been one of the finest entertainments available these last few months.
    Even better, the thought of Rupert having to attend his own (virtual) execution, brings a whole new dimension to the concept of schadenfreude.

    by paddy on Feb 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm

  3. Well done Guy;
    We are at last getting to the truth of this dishonourable
    leader of a morally and ethically bankrupt organisation.
    All his minions should recall his oath of loyalty to Rebekka and co,
    to quickly send them on their way with brown envelope full of his
    misgotten banknotes.
    It also should be understood that his management’s “co-operation’
    with the police enquiry is to thwart the police by denying them the right
    to issue writs for his files, as proscribed under UK law where
    ‘cooperation’ is identified.
    It is time that the english speaking world set about applying the
    “fit to operate” criteria to such people, with such base ethical and
    criminal attention to their responsibilities.

    by Mike Flanagan on Feb 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  4. Paddy, it’s only schadenfreude when you’re enjoying the failure of your friends. For me, the downfall of Murdoch is attended by feelings that oscillate between grim satisfaction and glee.

    by Steve Gardner on Feb 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  5. schadenfreude — n delight in another’s misfortune

    Doesn’t have to be friend, and lets face it, there aren’t that many friends of Murdoch these days. Sad, that they were all fair weather friends.

    by Meski on Feb 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm

  6. How will all this get reported in Ltd News papers in Australia? Will be interesting to see but I won’t be reading any of it.

    by rossco on Feb 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm

  7. Whew! Thanks Meski.
    For a minute there, I was breaking out in a cold sweat, imagining what people would think of me.
    A *friend* of Murdoch….Perish the thought. :)

    by paddy on Feb 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm

  8. Steve - according to the Oxford Dictionary (online), schadenfreude is: pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune - ie it doesn’t have to be the misfortune suffered by a friend (altho that might heighten the pleasure? - the obverse of Gore Vidal’s comment to the effect that a little bit of him died whenever he heard of a friend’s success)

    by Ian Brown on Feb 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm

  9. As one Eminence Grease declines, another appears - the Rhinestone Cowgirl. Will no-one free us from these meddling, deluded billionaires? That galah, Helen Kroger, on QandA last night showed her incapacity for her elected position by equating Rhinestone’s buy-in of an established media company to Greg Wood’s start-up investment in Global Mail. Wood is an entrepreneur, Rhinestone is a barnacle.

    by DF on Feb 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

  10. As Rupert Murdoch returns to Britain to deal with the arrest of five more journalists and editors from another red top The Sun. How long till the USA consider his suitability to be involved in media in the USA? Edward James

    by Edward James on Feb 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm

  11. Old Rupert wants to come out, purely innocent, out of this stinking business, but he really started it

    by kennethrobinson2 on Feb 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm

  12. @Rossco. It won’t get reported. The Australian and Sky News are too busy analysing / disecting / making their own news in regard to: he said, she said matters of Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and the latest “almost daily newspoll” to worry about the trivialities of what is happening to News Ltd in the UK. Stephen Conroy has my sincere thanks for keeping the morally bankrupt News Ltd and their Sky News away from the Australian National overseas broadcasting.

    by Bill Hilliger on Feb 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm

  13. The hell. Let it rot.’ Too late, it already has.

    by zut alors on Feb 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm

  14. @Puddleduck - Holloway Prison, London N7 has mother and baby units, so I’m sure that “this one” (copyright Rupe 2011) could be splendidly accommodated there. It is at least an hour and a half from deepest Oxfordshire however.

    by Roberto Tedesco on Feb 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm

  15. I admit it crossed my mind too Puddleduck.

    by Nici on Feb 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm

  16. Calloo callay, oh frabjous day, when such as the Mudorcs have to pay.

    by AR on Feb 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm

  17. The definition of schadenfreude is driving your Ford Falcon past a mining magnate’s series 7 BMW on the side of the road with it’s bonnet up, and the A/C out of order.

    by Doug on Feb 14, 2012 at 10:21 pm

  18. For some reason News reminds me strongly of the Sirius Cyberneics Corporation. Probably because of the many similarities I suppose…

    by Michael Hughes on Feb 14, 2012 at 11:11 pm

  19. @Doug: and then spotting a large puddle next to it, and driving thru it…

    by Meski on Feb 15, 2012 at 12:07 am

  20. @Michael: But their motto was “Don’t Panic!” - News Corp have a lot to panic over.

    by Meski on Feb 15, 2012 at 12:08 am

  21. Credit where dew”?
    Good job they put their hands up to this?
    Before The Guardian found out?
    (Could have looked so much worse?)

    by klewso on Feb 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

  22. And isn’t reassuring we’re getting the same sort of reassurance here - that nothing naughty happens in the same stable - that the British public were getting snowed with before this?
    But you can trust our dosage.

    by klewso on Feb 15, 2012 at 11:14 am

  23. And isn’t it funny how it’s always someone else’s fault too - when “the media” (that crusades as pressing for responsibility from others) craps in it’s own “Bakkerlite(?)” pantaloons?

    by klewso on Feb 15, 2012 at 11:21 am

  24. Thanks Guy, I really needed that.

    by Glenn Brandham on Feb 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm

« | »