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Goodbye News of the Screws

July 7, 2011

So goodbye after 168 years to the News of the World.  No more Sunday gossip, scandal, sleaze and racy stories?  It wasn’t called the News of the Screws for nothing.  I doubt if we”ll notice much difference.  Firstly, we’ll still have the Sunday Mirror and the People.  And Murdoch isn’t about to surrender a huge chunk of the Sunday tabloid market to them, so expect a Sun on Sunday launch really soon.

Most of my friends and colleagues are rather snooty about British tabloids.  But I grew up with them. My mother was (and still is) a Mirror reader and my grandmother took the Express. I discovered the Guardian and the Times in Mountain Ash Library but only read “broadsheets” on a regular basis when I arrived at Bristol University.  It was also then that I started reading the Sun most days and secretly enjoyed it.  Since it’s shed its nasty streak of homophobia I enjoy its punchy style even more.  But I’ve never liked the News of the World, which always found a new depth to which to sink. It was often sanctimonious but had page after page of stories revolving around sex.

I may have bashed one of the many nails into the NoW’s coffin this morning in the Commons when I raised the issue of Government spending on advertising in the paper.  I pointed out to Sir George Young, Leader of the House, that private businesses were pulling their adverts, shouldn’t the Government do the same?  George said that he would ask ministers to look at this “urgently”.   Now I rather suspect that Sunday’s final edition will be devoid of any advertising, apart from sex chat lines perhaps.

I suspect Murdoch’s decision was commercial, rather than remorse at the appalling series of phone hacking revelations.   The owners of British media outlets are supposed to be “fit and proper” persons in order to operate TV and radio stations. The real money now is in broadcasting, not print.  So the NoW has probably been sacrificed in order to smooth the path to full ownership of BSkyB.   I hope this ploy fails.  It’s not because I think Murdoch is bad for the media – the Times is my favourite paper.  But we should not allow one media mogul to have so much influence over national opinion.  Particularly someone who is not (and never has been) a British citizen, nor a payer of personal taxes in our country.  America does not allow this and nor should we.

It’s been a bad week for British tabloids.  The Attorney General was in court on Tuesday prosecuting the Mirror and the Sun for their terrible treatment of Chris Jefferies while he was under arrest, suspected of the murder of Joanna Yeates.  I have known Chris for many years and he has helped me in all my general election campaigns. The way his reputation was trashed was horrendous.  Chris was innocent.  I hope there are stiff sentences for those who jeopardised his right to a fair trial.

What of politics?   Party leaders have courted editors for more than the long life of the News of the World.   But the homage paid at the court of king Rupert by Blair, Brown and Cameron (I don’t think my boss got the chance) has debased all of them.  The media pretty well trashed the reputation of MPs before the last election.  Now the media is having to swallow some of its own poison.  Both need to rebuild their reputations.

The relationship between politics and journalism is crucial for democracy.  If they’re too close then the public loses as scrutiny is blunted.  But if one side is more powerful then abuse happens.  MPs are usually too scared to criticise journalists, especially a monopoly local newspaper or radio station.  This week Parliament has stood up to the fourth estate and we should be grateful to Labour MPs Chris Bryant and Tom Watson and to my colleague Simon Hughes for sticking with their long and lonely campaign.  Maybe politics and the press will be in a better place as a result of their efforts.

63 Comments leave one →
  1. Dean permalink
    July 8, 2011 12:22 am

    “But we should not allow one media mogul to have so much influence over national opinion”

    Very much a “cat amongst the pigeons” question, but how do you feel about the BBC?

    After all, it has considerably more influence over national opinion than Murdoch’s entire empire combined I would think. Do you feel some of Auntie’s news output should possibly be broken away from the main organisation during these times of austerity as you would have to assume an underlying “anti-cuts” rhetoric may be a conflict of it’s own interest?

    • leftwards permalink
      July 8, 2011 12:50 am

      We have a say over the Beeb, through government and as license payers, but only the shareholders matter to Sky.

      Oh, and Stephen, nice try. Lovely to see all the politcians kicking Murdoch while he’s down when you didn’t have the backbone to stand up to him before. Really well done, cowardice at its best. Am I going to see you speaking up against the BSkyB takeover?

      • July 8, 2011 6:29 pm

        leftwards – I’ve been speaking out against Murdoch full ownership of BSkyB for the last year. The article to which you’ve commented also states my opposition.

    • July 8, 2011 6:16 pm

      BBC governance is at least improving with the BBC Trust. But they should definitely not be a local monopoly news provider. I hope there will be more local tv and radio stations.

  2. Lynda Phillips permalink
    July 8, 2011 2:15 am

    Every MP or pier should be baying for Rebekah Brooks and Murdoch’s ‘blood’. It is very clear that she is being sheilded from this atrocity and if not dealt with swiftly will be ‘lost’ within News Corp/News International. The BskyB deal should be recinded/withdrawn, whatever they need to do at this stage to save what reputation everyone involved has left to scrape out of the gutter. It is dark days for what was once a noble profession and I pass my sympathies to any of my former colleagues that have been caught up in this. We’re not all from the same mould as the hacks and the paps.

  3. Dean permalink
    July 8, 2011 7:15 am

    Leftwards: I’m curious, how do we have a say over the BBC? When was the last time the public had any effect on it (or indeed, that the Government did)?

  4. David Brewer permalink
    July 8, 2011 9:29 am

    ‘America does not allow this and nor should we.’

    Fox News? The New York Post?

    ‘The media pretty well trashed the reputation of MPs before the last election.’

    MPs trashed their own reputations by falsely claiming for ridiculous things at the taxpayers expense. The media just reported it.

    ‘It was also then that I started reading the Sun most days and secretly enjoyed it. Since it’s shed its nasty streak of homophobia I enjoy its punchy style even more.’
    ‘It’s not because I think Murdoch is bad for the media ‘

    Are you kidding? Every time I read this blog (why I support forest sell-offs, why I’m not voting on tuition fees, why I’m doing whatever I’m told) I’m ashamed I went out knocking on doors, encouraging people to vote for the ‘progressive’ liberal democrat candidate.

    • July 8, 2011 6:19 pm

      Sorry, I thought everyone knew Murdoch became an American citizen (and tax payer) so he could own US media outlets… and your abuse at the end is pretty il informed too.

  5. twood50785pm permalink
    July 8, 2011 12:42 pm

    I know this is cynical, but the Lib Dems should be making much more of this. Labour and the Tories have repulsively been in bed with these vile (right wing) tabloids for ages, but never the Lib Dems. Sure, this might have more to do with the Lib Dems being the 3rd party rather than morally superior, but either way, more needs to be made of this.

    Everyone now knows that Vince ‘declared war on Murdoch’… Why isn’t more made of this? Sure, it was a balls up at the time, but now it’s just more evidence that the Lib Dems are and have always been anti-Murdoch. Miliband is the only know getting any decent quotes/coverage out there…. Clegg, say something we will hear!

    • July 8, 2011 6:25 pm

      I think it was the Guardian which said before the election that Murdoch had the most to fear from Lib Dems in government. We’ve never courted him and he and his outlets have always sneered at us. We owe him nothing. Ed Miliband doesn’t have much credibility here – Brown and Blair both courted Murdoch.

  6. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    July 8, 2011 4:22 pm

    As someone who, many years ago and still wet behind the ears, was mis-quoted by the NoW I hope they all go to prison and take anybody else found to be corrupt with them. Is it asking too much that politicians say and stand up for what they believe and let us be the judge. Why all these “think tanks” and special advisors who havn’t got a clue. Why has it taken Ed Miliband 16 months of opposition to discover what most of the population would have told him years ago. On certain issues, Labour were out of touch with ordinary voters. Forget the media barons, the celebs, the rich and famous and govern for the ordinary people. There are alot of us out here!

  7. Mike Chappell permalink
    July 8, 2011 6:02 pm

    An independent and monopoly free British media, free from foreign influence, is critical to a healthy British democracy! To see how Dictator Blair courted Murdoch and his executives was stomach turning, his 45 minutes statement that lead to the illegal Iraq war could have been written for one of Murdoch’s tabloids such was the level of it’s sensationalism! It’ s time for the LibDems to make good on Vince’s private statement of going to war against Murdoch! Murdoch is not a British National but has significant sway over the British Parliamentary system, his parliamentary influence should be part of a judicial review and the BskyB deal stopped!

  8. thebristolblogger permalink
    July 8, 2011 7:09 pm

    Both the “policing by PR” methods adopted by the Avon & Somerset Police and the role of the media in the run-up to Chris Jefferies arrest also deserve further scrutiny.

    Jefferies became a suspect purely on the basis of some Sky News footage obtained by doorstepping him. A media consensus immediately formed that he was somehow ‘dodgy’.

    Why was he ever arrested when there was just a lot of media noise and never a shred of proper evidence against him?

    The media’s treatment of Jefferies was appalling but the police’s actions were inexplicable.

    • Crow permalink
      July 8, 2011 8:25 pm

      Agreed. That business was extremely distasteful. As a runner who likes to run around Ashton Court, but who lives in St. Pauls, I am used to being stopped by the police at times, but shortly I first heard of Jo Yeate’s disappearance after I stopped going there, and after the discovery of her body (which seemed like a defilement of a place very important to me), the idea that as a single man of strange habits (going shirtless on a cold but sunny winter day is enough to cause most policemen to take interest), I decided to avoid the area for months. My instincts were right, weren’t they? The witch-hunt was most definitely up and raging, ready to bite the face off anybody who didn’t fit. Prurient appetites in the UK public have brought about a disaster that we now have to put right somehow. If we get it wrong the price could be far higher than we imagine, even now…

      About St. Pauls, where I live…. many people know that it is a touchy area at times, two riots in a week over a supermarket not that long ago, for example. I thought that was way over the top, though I won’t be shopping in that Tesco shop either. Right now there is a much greater cause for anger. Right now we apparently cannot trust the police, the government (which is barely stable as it is), or the press. As prices rise and living gets harder, this is a recipe for serious civil unrest. What the News Of The World did was just the lighting of a fuse, embedded deeply into long laid charges. Good luck defusing that bomb because it’s about the size of Great Britain. For some years I’ve felt like some dire sequence of events might be unleashed to make a mockery of all our long term plans. This one might be it.


  9. Crow permalink
    July 8, 2011 8:04 pm

    I see you have a FaceBook account. You wouldn’t happen to have a MySpace account to would you? >:) As it happens I suspect you don’t but anyone who HAS got one would do well to close it now. And leave behind a big message about why you’re doing it too. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”, we’re often told, so people really ought to be asking what’s in it for the owners of these sites. FaceBook’s ownership is extremely murky but that mixed possession might be a good thing for all I know, but MySpace basically needs a good kicking as a way to send a message to Murdoch.


  10. JohnW permalink
    July 8, 2011 8:10 pm

    A lot of good sense in your blog Stephen but the key question is what pressure will the backbenches put on Jeremy Hunt (I am beginning to think that James Naughtie may have got in right in the first place) to block the BSkyB deal on the grounds that News International is not a fit company to exercise so much unaccountable influence. The amount of political point scoring among some respondents is depressing; the issue is not party political it is about the fourth estate itself.

    • July 8, 2011 9:46 pm

      I think most Lib Dem MPs are clear that the BSkyB deal should not happen. But the Tories have a love-hate relationship with the Murdoch empire. But they may now be ready to turn on him.

      • Crow permalink
        July 8, 2011 9:50 pm

        This is why we need you to push… Ò^O <— Spocklike eyebrow.

  11. Mike S permalink
    July 9, 2011 8:37 am

    Stephen. Excellent write up. It is beginning to restore my faith in the Lib Dems. Nick Clegg seems to be remarkably quiet. What is the Lib Dem approach in helping to make sure RM does not get the whole of BSkyB?

  12. July 9, 2011 10:46 am

    MPs are usually too scared to criticise journalists, especially a monopoly local newspaper or radio station.

    Is this an admission that you too are scared to criticise Evening Post hacks?

    I think we should be told.

    • July 9, 2011 11:36 am

      you may think that. I couldn’t possibly comment. I think I’m their least favourite MP anyway.

  13. Patricia Harrad permalink
    July 9, 2011 11:13 am

    Dear Stephen, the question I’d most like to hear asked: why did Mr Cameron, in the face of all he knew about Andy Coulson (and been told, most specifically, by The Guardian) still employ such a dishonoured person? The answer, I think, is that he was told to, by News International; not outright, I dare say…just allowed to see how much such an appointment would benefit him and his party in the long run. Andy Coulson is, was, Murdoch’s representative at Downing St. That’s why he was given the job. That’s how much power the Murdoch empire already has over our politicians. Over to you, now, to stop him if you can. Best wishes, Patricia Harrad

    • July 9, 2011 11:37 am

      that’s for the PM to answer but I suspect it was more to do with the Tories’ desperation to get the Murdoch papers back on side. At the time they were still backing Blair and Brown.

      • rosemary permalink
        July 10, 2011 7:39 pm

        Stephen, you don’t seriously believe that the Sun leads, rather than follows, its readers do you? And the Times and Sunday Times? If that were indeed the case, then why have several different papers? One Pravda would be enough – like the BBC.

  14. Patrick permalink
    July 10, 2011 2:36 pm

    I agree with you on Murdoch and that is good. Be careful, though, about the BBC – the BBC is an institution that Murdoch hacks keep trying to undermine but it is much more of a positive force. I think this whole issue does show as so often that public sector institutions are much better than private ones.

  15. rosemary permalink
    July 10, 2011 5:05 pm

    How can you say the BBC has been a positive force when it has shut down national discussion on so many vital questions? All those decades when no-one was allowed to question mass immigration or membership of the EU, just for starters.

  16. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    July 10, 2011 7:25 pm

    The BBC has been infiltrated by the PC brigade, the “liberal elite”, those who think they know, not how the working man does think, but how he should think. “Positive force” I don’t think so.

    • Crow permalink
      July 11, 2011 11:37 am

      I agree with that, (and there’s plenty on it I can’t be doing with at all) but it IS a strong defence against Murdoch and the likes. We’d be worse off if it wasn’t there. To change the BBC, perhaps first we must change Murdoch. Once people quit this desire to swallow all they’re told (which is what got us into this mess), things could improve. They’ll change, whatever happens, the net will change more than the printing press did. Murdoch wants to get control of the electronic media, but look at MySpace.. paid 580 million, sold for 35 million last week! THAT didn’t work for him, did it? 🙂

      What it comes down to is that people should now use the net to say what they really think, and not wait for others to say it for them. The BBC is usually late to recognise social changes on the net, but it gets there in the end, so if you want to influence it you might as well start there. Or here. >:)

      • rosemary permalink
        July 11, 2011 10:45 pm

        What I have never understood, Crow, is why the BBC was allowed to join the race to the bottom, when, as our internationally respected and treasured public service broadcaster, and in a uniquely privileged position with its secure income, it didn’t have to. If David Attenborough had become DG, as many hoped he might, do you think it would have retained its high standards?

        I fear the answer to my question may be that there was a misplaced desire not to be seen as that most unacceptable and inappropriate thing of all, elitist.

        Curiously, Mr Murdoch is more allergic than anyone to elitism, and that has always seemed to me one of the paradoxical reasons he is so hated by the lumpenintelligentsia. I don’t think it is his republicanism that gets up their noses, or his years of friendship with the Labour Party, both before and after Mrs Thatcher came along. The Star, which was also the subject of a police raid this week, doesn’t seem to attract odium on account of its even more naked anti-elitism, or even any attention at all, presumably because it remains doggedly faithful to Labour.

        There are of course still islands of excellence in the BBC’s huge and powerful empire, especially on the non-political bits of Radios 3 and 4, and on the World Service. But the 24 rolling News, which shut out the rest of the country and the world this week, is a disaster. As for the coarse comedians, the pornography, the soaps, the maddening electronic junk music overlaying otherwise serious programmes, and all the rest of the razz a matazz and pseudo advertising, it is difficult to know which is worse: all of that, or the
        flagrant political bias and the refusal even to discuss certain topics.

        But for all that, I agree with you; it is better to keep a hold of Nurse, for fear of getting something worse.

      • rosemary permalink
        July 12, 2011 8:40 am

        I completely forgot to include the BBC’s glorification of criminality and violence. It is not just vulgarity they have saturated our children with.

  17. July 10, 2011 7:30 pm

    I have already sent an email on this subject via the 38 Degrees campaign site, so I am delighted to see in this blog that you are likely to vote with for a motion on Wednesday that makes it possible to stop or pause the Mrudoch bid for BSkyB. Good luck.

    • rosemary permalink
      July 10, 2011 7:46 pm

      Sam, I would be a bit wary of 38 Degrees if I were you. Have you noticed them ever following their supporters? People say what they want the next campaign to be – against factory farming, for an EU referendum, or whatever, and guess what? 38 Degrees comes up with a campaign designed specifically to damage the governing parties and boost the opposition. Strange, isn’t it. Almost as if it were being run by Tom Baldwin.

      • July 10, 2011 7:52 pm

        Thanks for offering the advice Rosemary. Checking your knowledge and your opinion on the BBC question makes me inclined to leave it with you.

    • July 10, 2011 9:34 pm

      I hope the motion is plain and factual so it genuinely can be voted for by non Labour MPs. If the wording is critical of the govt or the PM personally then I’m afraid it will just be a stunt and a missed opportunity.

      • July 10, 2011 9:53 pm

        As a habitual (but reluctant under Blair) Labour voter I share your hope for a motion that can allow general support. Many thanks for the response.

      • Crow permalink
        July 11, 2011 11:50 am

        While a personal attack is pointless and counterproductive in this case, it won’t help us if the motion is too dry and ‘factual’ either. There is the spirit of the law to be considered. If people stick too much to the ‘letter’ in this one and allow Murdoch to take all of BSkyB on ‘legality’ there might be significant social unrest. He makes the rules up as he goes along! If he binds you in red tape you’ll lose support of all those who know that immediate resistance is required. Murdoch is HERE, NOW, precisely because he knows what the stakes are, he’s hoping to bull his way through, and you’re going to have to put up an appropriate defence. In the long run you’d be helping the Tories so they should be properly grateful. I’m not wild about anything that helps them but Murdoch is a bigger problem right now.

  18. rosemary permalink
    July 10, 2011 7:59 pm

    38 Degrees were very slow off the mark with this particular campaign weren’t they? Waiting to see which way Ed decided to go? They are making up for lost time now, though.

  19. Patrick permalink
    July 11, 2011 8:14 am

    I have rarely seen such an idiotic comment as Rosemary’s about the BBC cutting down debate. Do you work for Murdioch?

    • rosemary permalink
      July 11, 2011 8:32 am

      No, and I don’t buy any of his papers either. But I listen a lot to the BBC. Did anyone else notice that Any Questions this week shut down discussion on everything except the News of the World? And has anyone noticed that despite a great deal of time being given to the subject, the Today Programme hasn’t found time to explain clearly whose legislation is preventing Jeremy Hunt from making the decision they want him to?

  20. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    July 11, 2011 10:22 am

    Rosemary. Wash your mouth out. You dare to mention the unmentionable. Now go back to Rochdale with those horrible working people and leave politics to those who know best.

    • rosemary permalink
      July 11, 2011 9:43 pm

      Would you agree Paul that it is better to be a working class idiot than a useful one?

  21. Ms WPB permalink
    July 11, 2011 3:32 pm

    dear mr williams

    i would like to say that I think it is BUMS.

    thank you

  22. July 11, 2011 3:41 pm

    I am reassured that you seem to be saying that you will not support the murdoch camp in any way- but I think you ought to give up on the Times too- at least only read it in the library so you are not adding to their coffers….

    Have you read the Spirit Level about the unintended consequences of inequality… where possible this is the key question on every vote- will this or that action/ law/ proposal increase or decrease the gap between those who have access and those who do not, for whatever reason…..

    • July 11, 2011 5:26 pm

      I bought the Spirit Level a few months ago and it is on my summer reading list! The ability of everyone to influence those with power and also the ability of everyone to acquire democratic power, is indeed important and often underplayed in debates about equality which tend to focus on income and wealth.

  23. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    July 12, 2011 9:51 am

    Being a working class idiot, I don’t quite get what you mean. What I am learning is humour, irony, sarcasm, and the like don’t come over well on blogs so I must stop doing it. What I would like is for the vast majority of us who do, or have done, our 40 hours, paid our taxes, brought up our kids, helped our families and neighbours and can go under the title of being “ordinary” can have our say, our views listened to, without someone telling me that they know best, when, in most cases they have some idiological axe to grind. The BBC has been part of this, so if you have not realised by now, I totally agree with your previous statement and my sarcasm obviously didn’t work.

    • rosemary permalink
      July 12, 2011 12:05 pm

      Sorry, Paul I was being humorous too. “Useful Idiots” were first identified as a force by Lenin. They allow themselves to be used to further someone else’s political agenda, but don’t realize it. They think they are on the side of working people, but they rarely come across them. That is why they are so useful. And so idiotic. Keep working. They need your taxes to pay their inflation-proofed pensions. Their mortgages will be cancelled by the inflation they always have an interest in.

  24. r blackmore permalink
    July 12, 2011 10:26 pm

    since when has labour got things right, ? the more you say iswrong the more right it feels. after 11 years of destroying our country with over populating us with immigrants, selling the gold of cheap, lying to the people regarding the eu,the human rights and signing our country away you now wish to take control of the media, the bbc is a bloated empire run by lunatics for their own personal gain .
    leave Murdoc to do the job hes good at, a job your bosses were happy for him to do when he was backing labour.

  25. rosemary permalink
    July 13, 2011 9:05 am

    Mention has been made of the Tories having a love hate relationship with the Murdoch Empire. Also that there will be rioting in the streets if the Left don’t get their way and have him run out of town – every town in the world. From where I sit – i.e. not at Westminster – it seems to me it is the Left which has the love hate relationsip with him. To the point of such utter and all consuming obsession that we who don’t read his papers or watch his TV aren’t allowed to know about anything else at the moment.

    Why? Isn’t he just another big businessman who can afford to be friends with whomsoever is in power, while getting on with his trade? All big business men try to keep on cordial rather than hostile terms with the local rulers, always have.

    That is what the East India Company did. The object was to be allowed to get on with the trading, not run the government. It was the then liberal politicians who insisted on making it into something else, the foundation of the British Empire. That is what liberal/left politicians are doing now. They see a big flourishing business and they can only think power, and want to grab it for themselves, mainly to control people’s minds and behaviour. Big businessmen just want to get on with their business, supplying whatever people want to buy. If people wanted brand new lace several times a day, the Murdochs of this world would no doubt still be supplying it to them. But lace went out of fashion with the Empire, so Noosanentertainment is what’s manufactured for them now. They don’t have to buy it, and though millions of them choose to, millions of them don’t.

    Because right wing politicians don’t believe in controlling people’s minds and behaviour in the first place, or businessmen, they have always been more relaxed about the media industry than the left. That doesn’t mean left wing propagandists won’t say otherwise, 24 hours a day.

    As for the other purveyors of Noosanentertainment… Pots and Kettles is what most of us are thinking.

    If people really are rioting in the streets, as they are in Northern Ireland at the moment, shouldn’t the media and political world be concentrating on that? There are quite a few other emergencies. The energy gap left by the last government, the shortage of housing, education, and health for the hugely increased population, the pensions fiasco, the terrible conditions in geriatric care, the debt, the imminent financial collapse, the famines, the earthquakes, the wars, the overwhelming numbers of refugees and migrants…where does one stop?

    So what is this trumped up emergency all about? Not just all out war in the Noosanentertainment industry, but also a desperate attempt by the discredited British Left to seize back power.

    Our MP would do well to rise above it, and concentrate instead on helping to deliver what the Coalition promised the country it would. Then he can come back to us at general election time and ask us to approve the part he played.

    • r blackmore permalink
      July 13, 2011 12:32 pm

      sadly Rosie, it aint gonna happen,they are able to slip things by the people while posturing about the media. my are is blighted by crime ,prostitution ,drug dealing and weapons everywhere , and the government is worried about the media.
      get on with the important things, and get us out of the bloody eu

      • rosemary permalink
        July 13, 2011 1:11 pm

        Apart from the crazy position you understate, it also occurs to me that this is a good day for Al Queda to bury us all. Let us hope Yates and co are giving it an occasional thought.

      • rosemary permalink
        July 13, 2011 6:11 pm

        It may be of come comfort to you that Kate Hoey has just presented a petition in the House of Commons for a referendum on the EU. To an almost empty chamber though.

  26. Patricia Harrad permalink
    July 13, 2011 12:25 pm

    Supplying “news” is not much like selling lace. Murdoch’s Fox News in America is a violently partial view of the world, and so far that’s not been allowed in Britain – broadcasters are at least required to attempt impartiality. This seems to me the best anyone can do. The BBC and ITV here aren’t perfect, of course. But they aren’t big-business propaganda either.

    • rosemary permalink
      July 13, 2011 1:19 pm

      I understand that Fox is increasingly successful in the USA because people want an alternative to what you so quaintly describe as attempted impartiality, and they are prepared to pay for it.

      • rosemary permalink
        July 13, 2011 4:12 pm

        I should add that when it comes to violence, you can’t really beat the enthusiasm of CNN. I have never forgotten the agonised night I spent listening to the BBC’s World Service as Messrs Clinton and Blair started one of their aggressive wars. The BBC relayed unedited recordings of CNN gloating excitedly and approvingly while the first bombs were dropping. “Holy Smoke!” was their favourite ejaculation each time one landed.

        I understand CNN is supposed to be the “impartial” broadcaster beloved of the left. The US military used to say, “you can defeat the terrorists, you can defeat the commies, but you can never defeat CNN.” Well, it’s over to you now, Mr Murdoch.

      • February 1, 2012 12:34 am

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  27. Peter Ridsdale permalink
    July 18, 2011 10:43 pm

    Dear Stephen Williams

    You seem to want it both ways. To court popularity by being against the BSkyB deal in blogs and newsletters but on the other hand supporting the Tories by being an obedient member of the coalition. If you felt so strongly about it why didn’t you do something concrete when Jeremy Hunt (with Cameron’s backing) was ‘minded’ to allow Murdoch’s deal to go ahead? Why didn’t you rebel when Cable was demoted for daring to say that he was opposed? Why do you continue to offer tacit support to Cameron in view of what we now know about Andy Coulson? Why do you not call for Cameron to resign? Why don’t you lead a Lib Dem revolt and bring down this unelected government? (But now I’m waxing rhetorical – I think we all know why!)

    • July 19, 2011 1:22 pm

      Peter. Has it occurred to you that the hacking and other vile practices of the Murdoch press (and the Mirror etc) happened while Blair and Brown were leading the country? They sucked up to Murdoch for 13 years while in govt. Until 3 weeks ago they were still fawning round him and his acolytes, while in Opposition. Ed M’s spin doctor was recruited from NI and has his own past to explain. He also advised Labour MPs not to link the bid for BskyB with the hacking story.

      Cameron was I think unwise to employ Coulson. But he wasn’t in power when the NOTW excesses took place. He is in power now and has ordered a judge led enquiry. The presence of Lib Dems in govt made this more not less likely. And the Sky bid would not have got into difficulty without Vince Cable’s referral to OfCom.

      • rosemary permalink
        July 27, 2011 6:13 pm

        Is it so unwise for an upright and honest gentleman to employ a well practised poacher as his gamekeeper? Would you rather he employed another gentleman? Or the local curate?

        They don’t make Bernard Inghams in the Civil Service now, thanks to its politicisation by Messrs Blair and Brown.

      • rosemary permalink
        July 27, 2011 6:17 pm

        PS If this is all the character assassins of the Left can dig up on the PM, you shouldn’t be too worried.

  28. Peter Ridsdale permalink
    July 19, 2011 6:08 pm


    Yes, it has occurred to me… but isn’t this just the old politicians trick again – defer any criticism by pointing out the failures of the other party? I think is was wrong under Thatcher, wrong under Blair / Brown but more importantly wrong NOW… and you can do something about it now by withdrawing your support from the Tory led government – or at least pointing out publicly that Cameron was quite prepared to let the creature of a multi-national company into the heart of Downing Street without proper vetting. Murdoch has for too long completely undermined democracy in this country and it was not the Lib Dems that put a stop to it. The whole thing blew up due to an article in The Guardian. You are quite wrong to say that the BSkyB deal got into difficulty because of Vince Cable. After Cable was demoted, (with barely a murmur from the Lib Dems) it looked as if Jeremy Hunt was more than ready to lick the Murdoch boot. It was the Milly Dowler case and a public outcry that put a stop to it all. (If it has been stopped, that is – I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in a year’s time that the deal is reviewed and approved by Lord Snooty and His Pals). The fact remains that the Lib Dems are aiding and abetting an unelected Tory government. The public have been mesmerised into a sad state of affairs where nobody seems able to talk about the elephant in the room. Liars are not held to account and corruption permeates our society – from the tabloids through the police to the corridors of power.

  29. Peter Ridsdale permalink
    February 1, 2012 12:45 am


    Yeah, way to go dude! Murdoch and impartiality! You’re a genius!

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