Much of the British press has been in convulsions over the arrest and release of the editor of Rupert Murdoch’s Sun on suspicion of assaulting her husband.
But none of the breathless coverage has covered the ground traversed in this column by media commentator Stephen Glover in The Independent – “Why media morality should begin at home” – which includes these thoughts:
“If a female Cabinet minister were arrested in her own home at 4am on suspicion of assaulting her husband, taken to the police station, fingerprinted and DNA-tested, the newspapers would react with horror. We might well be told that the position of the minister was untenable, particularly if she had herself inveighed against domestic violence.
“But Rebekah Wade is not in the Cabinet. She is the editor of The Sun, and judged by different standards. Most papers reported her arrest and eight-hour detention in a jocular way. The rival Daily Mirror made light of it. My esteemed colleague Roy Campbell-Greenslade of The Daily Telegraph and the egregious publicist Max Clifford were invited on to Radio 4’s Today programme, and both thought the incident highly amusing. How funny it all was. And The Sun’s campaign against domestic violence – which was not a joke – was judged to make the incident funnier still.
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“Speaking personally, I would be perfectly happy if Ms Wade and her husband Ross Kemp were to blast each other into the next world, but my personal feelings are beside the point. Rebekah Wade is a public figure. Not only that, she takes a high moral line – and not only over domestic violence. When she was editor of the News of the World, her campaign against paedophiles led to rioting in Portsmouth, and an attack on an innocent man. Ms Wade declined to defend her newspaper in person, however. Though she wields a lot of power, she almost never allows herself to be interviewed or held to account. The Sun is forever laying down the law, telling us what is right and wrong, and possibly being taken seriously by some of its readers, but Ms Wade is evidently immune from her own moral precepts …
” … Most other newspapers were indulgent of Ms Wade because their editors and proprietors have an interest in other princes and princesses of the media class not being judged with the same harshness that they show towards erring politicians or film stars. Rupert Murdoch, the Mephistophelean ringmaster in this amoral circus, told Sun journalists that “they should make light of the situation also.” Mr Murdoch is the ultimate hypocrite. His newspapers pry into the private lives of others, while he jealously guards his own privacy.”
Somehow we don’t think this striking piece will be picked up in The Australian’s “Cut and Paste” section, which scours the world for insightful thinking about society.