Notes From the Margins…

Your Daily Sleaze

  • July 06, 2011
  • by

The revelations that the News of the World hacked into phones of the victims of the 7/7 bombings, the abducted and murdered Milly Dowler’s cellphone, and those of the families of the murdered Soham children have cast a  dismal spotlight on the  uniquely depraved   and unscrupulous British tabloid press.

Rupert Murdoch’s News International is not the only culprit.   The NOTW is only one of various newspapers whose output has long been unconstrained by  considerations of morality, humanity or factual accuracy.   This absence of scruple is particularly glaring in tabloid coverage of immigration, where newspapers like the Daily Mail and the Daily Star routinely  pander to  the  worst  prejudices of their readers with a constant stream of dishonest, distorted and sometimes fabricated stories.

Some liberal media pundits like to depict papers like the Sun as irreverent cheeky chappies and  essential and even useful components of the British media landscape, because of their willingness to take down the occasional hypocritical celebrity or adulterous footballer.   But such efforts are merely another manifestation of the same relentless drive to make money that induces a newspaper to hack the phones of a murdered schoolgirl, or pay police to get inside information on ongoing murder investigations.

Politicians – including David Cameron, who once hired the News of the World ‘s Andy Coulson as his communications advisor – are now falling over themselves to express their moral indignation at the phonetapping scandal.     But  both Labour and Conservative governments have assiduously courted Rupert Murdoch and done everything possible to facilitate his business aspirations in order to win elections.

Not a single politician of a significance from either party has dared stand up to him in the past, and  despite the  current outpourings of moral revulsion, it is difficult to imagine that either the government or the opposition will be willing to do anything that might incur Murdoch’s wrath in the future.

The  corruption of British public life by  Murdoch’s empire of sleaze is not only due to political opportunism and self-interest.

Ultimately responsibility lies with the millions of readers who have so far continued to  buy his newspapers,  regardless of the methods used to provide them with a diet  of  sleaze, sentimentality, salubrious gossip and voyeuristic bullying that too many people seem irresistibly drawn towards.



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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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