Yesterday’s Murdoch hearings – that’s what in essence they were – had so many fascinating features it’s hard to know where to start, but let’s try with the cry of the shaving-foam thrower. You didn’t know he had a cry? Apparently so. As he swung his arm and just before Murdoch’s wife whacked him good and proper, he’s said to have said “You’re greedy”. Or it could have been “You greedy – ” and then didn’t have time to say a greedy what before Murdoch’s wife did her version of the Cantona kick. Which leads me to believe that while the shaving-cream man was ingenious in that he managed to smuggle the cream in AND throw it, he was and is very stupid if he thinks Rupert Murdoch’s crime is greed. Tosh, balderdash and bollix, foam-thrower. Greed is what makes the capitalist mare go. If you think that’s bad, don’t go criticising the guys who just follow the rules as they’re laid out – go criticise the creeps who set up the rules in the first place, rules that pitch people against each other in a red-in-tooth-and-claw struggle, rather than rules that would help us work together to make things better for all.
But then, the hearings yesterday didn’t care if the rules made sense. They were there to establish if Murdoch had broken the rules. Which rules? The rules that say you don’t pay coppers, even when they bring you a juicy story. The rules which say you mustn’t listen in on other people’s phones and then write news stories on the back of those eavesdroppings. But as I said in an earlier blog, eavesdropping isn’t seen as inherently wrong – the British government, the American government, probably the Irish government, all have listened into the phone conversations of citizens and used those against them. Murdoch’s crime was that he or his underlings did it and they weren’t the government.
One last point. I found myself, despite everything and to my own discomfort, as I watched the TV, sympathising with the Murdochs. Yes I know, I know. But that horse-shoe of politicians, people who would sell their granny for a hatful of votes, people who for decades kept their trap shut or cheered on the likes of Thatcher as she schmoozed up to Murdoch (will they tear down Thatcher’s statue, I wonder, now they know what her pal Murdoch was up to?) – before this they wouldn’t have dared give Murdoch a half-critical glance. Now there they were, knowing the eyes of the world were on them, straining at the bit to show themselves the fearless champions of democracy and honesty. There’s only one thing worse than doing wrong and lying about it, and that’s pretending you’re brave and virtuous when you’re really cowardly and amoral. You could almost see horse-shoe committee members yesterday quivering with anticipation, as their turn came to show how virtuous they were, how keen to defend the world from the Murdochs. It was about as attractive as having a plateful of shaving foam shoved in your gob.