The News of the World: RIP
- July 08, 2011
Having once spent many weekends outside Fortress Wapping in the 1980s, I will make no attempt to disguise the fact that it was a hugely enjoyable experience to observe the dark heart of the Murdoch empire laid bare yesterday – and the disappearance of one its sleaziest and most amoral publications.
Nor do the NOTW’s claims to have been a ‘campaigning newspaper’ diminish the schadenfreude. Throughout its career, the NOTW had a single objective: to increase its circulation – and it proved time and time again that this goal would not be limited by any ethical and moral considerations. So I will resist the invitation extended by the likes of Max Clifford to shed a sentimental tear at the demise of this ‘great British institution’ and just say good riddance – and also hope that maybe those two and half million readers can now find something more constructive to do with their Sunday mornings instead of sticking their faces into a dank pool of sleaze and gossip whose creators are prepared to hack into the phones of murdered schoolgirls and dead soldiers in order to provide them with a vicarious thrill.
Of course there are other papers that are offering a similar product, and which have undoubtedly used similar methods. The NOTW’s closure may not be definitive, and there is also the possibility that the equally repellent Sun may take its place. Murdoch clearly doesn’t care about any of his newspapers, and he and his son have set their sights on bigger things elsewhere, but the events of the last two days have nevertheless damaged and humiliated their seemingly unstoppable and iressistible organization, and that can only be good.
The whole affair has also revealed the corrupt and incestuous relationship between News International and police and both Labour and Conservative politicians, whose belated moral revulsion toward Murdoch’s activities has clearly been reluctantly forced upon them. All this is positive too, and let’s hope there is more to come. For as Jack Kerouac once said when he suggested the title of The Naked Lunch for William Burrough’s book of the same name, there are moments when you need to see what is on the end of your fork, and the phonetapping scandal has finally made it impossible for the British public and political establishment to eat what is on the end of theirs.