The global reputation of the media has been steadily declining for
decades and the most important person behind this trend has been a
certain Rupert Murdoch, who hails from Melbourne’s conservative and
leafy suburbs.

The latest edition of Private Eye, the British magazine that
was the original inspiration for Crikey, once again demonstrates the
sort of things that Rupert’s journalists do to concoct a story and make
a profit for the Sun King:

How very appropriate that it was News of the Screws chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck who exposed Mark Oaten’s “sordid secret double life. According to the NoW, “the scandal exposes Oaten as a hypocrite…he has no qualms about using family values to further his career”.

Well, Neville Thurlbeck is a man who knows all about hypocrisy. He is
the hack who made his excuses and stayed (unlike British politician
Oaten, who resigned after his gay sex exploits were revealed).

In 1998 Eye 962 reported how Thurlbeck pulled off a classic NoW
scam by exposing a naturist B&B in Dorset as “a kinky
brothel…where all rooms come with en-suite pervert”.

Landlady Sue Firth, he wrote, would serve guests breakfast in bed and
stay for “romps” while husband Bob spied on the rumpy-pumpy from
a hiding place in a wardrobe. Alas the story was mostly, er, balls.

Thurlbeck – writing under the pseudonym “Jack Tunstall” because his
wife didn’t like him working on sex stories – quoted Sue Firth as
offering “a full sex session with me and my husband for 75 pounds”.

The truth, captured on a security videotape by the Firths, was that the reporter offered the couple 75 pounds if he could watch them
having sex. This the former “swingers” agreed to do – but were furious
when Thurlbeck twisted the tale to claim that they had taken the
initiative and that Sue was having sex with guests rather than her
husband.

The Eye still has in its possession video stills of the News of the World man naked on Sue Firth’s massage table – a sight, as the Screws might put it, too revolting to reproduce in a family magazine.

We’re not aware of any Australian hacks having to get their gear off
and lie for a yarn, but the global trend is with Rupert –
hacks who show an ethical or moral deficiency are tolerated and often
promoted. And that goes to the entire culture of News Corp, evidenced
by the appalling corporate governance demonstrated from the
very top.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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