May 4, 2012

Rundle: the inevitable splits and spats of the News fallout

These spats may be the least of the Murdochs' worries.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


It's goin' off in London, it's goin' off, mate ... barely a day after the Commons sub-committee on sport, culture, media, the Falklands, the Cinque ports and Jarndyce versus Jarndyce, had delivered its report on News International, phone hacking and related matters, and therein stated that Rupert Murdoch was an "unfit" person to run anything more than lemonade stand, well, the whole place has collapsed into chaos and acrimony, on partisan lines. The Tories are rushing to the defence of Rupe, Labour is threatening to expose their hopeless fealty to him further, and a delicious side-spat has opened up over whether it is politically legitimate to call odious Tory dimwit Louise Mensch (nee Bagshawe) a "rich whore" or not. The splits and the spats were inevitable, but until now the committee had been a model of unity, as it attempted to get to the bottom of News International's systemic corruption of journalistic practice and the Metropolitan police force, and the latter's willingness to become a paid agency doing Rupe and his henchpeople's bidding. Though everyone groaned when Tom Watson used a question to accuse the hapless James Murdoch of being a "Mafia boss" -- if only; the evidence is James couldn't be a Brumby's franchisee, let alone a crime boss -- they have generally supported each other on lines of questioning, if for no other reason than that to be seen to be on the side of an organisation that hacks a dead girl's phone had no dividend. There was also the matter of, y'know, genuine public interest. The degree to which the police force had been rendered internally ineffectual by News' payments and favours to officers was genuinely shocking, especially if you bought the Olympic-period hysteria about terror, etc, and the non-Murdoch tabloids were hammering hard on that line. Then the committee's report was drafted, and here accounts vary. The Tory members of the committee -- in particular Mensch -- claim that the "unfit" tag was added by Labour members close to the final drafting of the report, as an ambush, that the matter was never discussed by the committee in private session, and that Murdoch R had not been in the frame to answer questions that would establish fitness or otherwise. Labour replied by arguing that the issue had been discussed months before, and by threatening to release a full list of proposed Tory amendments to the final report, that would establish what a pusillanimous bunch they truly are. Labour, well Watson, also accused the Tories of leaking interim discussions of evidence to News -- crucially, between the first and second appearance of Murdoch, J, thus allowing him to tailor his answers to the committee's concerns. The stoush between Watson and Mensch occurred mainly on Twitter, with others piling in -- notably another Labour MP, Chris Bryant, who asked whether [committee member] Therese Coffey had been receiving private briefings throughout the period of the report. Mensch for her part, tweeted some flatly unbelievable brown-nosing to Murdoch, J:

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

11 thoughts on “Rundle: the inevitable splits and spats of the News fallout

  1. paddy

    Gold Mr Rundle….Gold!
    Next week, on Thursday and Friday at aprox 7.00pm, I’ll be glued to the Leveson website to see Coulson and Brooks fronting the inquiry.
    Pass the popcorn.

  2. Plonkoclock

    I can’t believe that ms Brooks won’t have cut a deal..

  3. moonkid

    Wow, inquiries get websites now? I’m so there.

  4. paddy

    Moonkid. Not only websites, but live video feeds.
    Google it. It’s been the best show in town since it started.

  5. Mike Flanagan

    Moonkid and Paddy
    There are laugh aplenty in the Hacks on Channel 4. A parody of the Murdochs and Brooksie

  6. zut alors

    ‘… her sister, inevitably named Tilly Bagshawe, and equally inevitably a chick-litterateur,…’

    Your claws are deliciously sharp today, Guy.

    The Leveson Show is more addictive than The Bold and The Beautiful.

  7. paddy

    Hmm…Looks interesting MikeF
    I’ll have a look over the weekend. Thanks.

  8. Meski

    A rich whore? Well partially accurate, at least. I haven’t checked her finances.

  9. Mike Flanagan

    I think the script was written by Hinchen of Private Eye fame

  10. AR

    Surely the biggest question is which way Brooks jumps. She might take a fall, which would only be a slap on the wrist at worst and considering what she must know, sufficient compensation would see her set for life and several generations thereafter, always assuming it is not in News scrip.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details