What is believable anymore with the Murdoch case, which in the last 24 hours has become so fantastic in its twists and turns that we are all beginning to think of it as a very, very badly made Hollywood movie? Murdoch’s wife swinging at the comedian who threw a custard pie at the Australian media mogul during the MPs’ committee has made her an Internet star, but today’s cross examination will be remembered for how traumatized the 80-year-old looked by it all, caught in the headlamps of a vehicle that showed no signs of any mercy before the killing. It hardly seems believable that just 24 hours before the cross examination of both Murdoch senior and his son, James, that the News of the World journalist who was responsible for the phone hacking scandal being revealed was found dead – in circumstances which the police are describing as merely “unexplained.”
This word which a senior police officer used though follows a pattern to this never-ending media scandal which is worthy of Ridley Scott movie. Much of this case is “unexplained” and I think the truth about the roles of Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron’s interests will not be known for some time as what we’re witnessing each day in the British press and in Westminster is a cover up of unprecedented proportion; the superlatives don’t even cover it. Today one commentator described the magnitude of the event itself of the MPs hearing as something never experienced since the last war.
Could it also be said of the amount of bullshit which the humble public are expected to accept? Two police chiefs resign in the space of 24 hours, a former News of the World journalist is found dead and the theater of both Murdoch and his son James – plus his former CEO Rebekah Brooks – is trivialized by the media tycoon himself getting custardized by a comedian? The police have already found nothing on Rebekah Brooks but buried deep in the labyrinth of the drama is a revelation today about Brooks’ missing laptop computer which magically came to light. Today. Oh yes it did. Like magic a lost bag with the laptop in it – which she is claming is not even hers, but her husband’s – is found mysteriously by police. When you begin to examine who these people were and what their connections were to the British establishment – and in particular to David Cameron – then, and only then, do you begin to understand the mystery and the increasing number of unanswered questions that this fiasco is throwing up.
Brooks’ husband for example, is a friend of the prime minister. But what about that laptop? And the dead journalist? And what are the police chiefs covering up?
There is a long-standing tradition in British tabloid politics that whenever a weighty amount of critical endorsing evidence cannot be attributed to a source – often if it is in the form of a document – then usually the dossier ends up in a public bin. In other words, the damning tome is either chucked into a bin and then the journalist is tipped off as to where its location is; or more often, it is agreed between the source and the journalist that it is written that it was found in a bin.
And so because of this there weren’t many British journalists on Tuesday who read that a laptop computer belonging to Murdoch’s right hand woman (who resigned last Friday) was “found,” and that there was nothing further to report.
Police were yesterday (Monday) given a bag containing a computer, phone and paperwork found in a bin near the London home of Rebekah Brooks. Someone handed the items to security guards at the Chelsea Harbour complex of luxury apartments where she owns a £1.5million property.
This, as it stands, is about as believable as toothpaste which claims to whiten your teeth or someone telling you that the check is in the mail. The media circus today however was sufficient to keep the spotlight on those who are supposed to be the ones providing the answers – the two Murdocks and Brooks – and so were not interested in resolving any mystery. But already this is a scandal of such a proportion that journalists and political pundits are already talking of Cameron resigning despite the real culprits of the crime being the former (Labour) government. It throws up an interesting question though, doesn’t it? Who is more guilty? The conspirators or those who later on collude to cover up the murky deeds of those in high office.
(Martin Jay is a veteran foreign correspondent who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for most major international TV networks. He can be reached at email@example.com)