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The End of the World - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
The End of the World
Like the MP expenses story, the News of the World phone hacking story has been drip-fed through the media to keep it at the top of the news. I find it interesting that the story has only gone nuclear when it emerged that "ordinary" people (i.e. Milly Dowler, bereaved army families, etc.) may have been hacked, as though hacking phones of celebrities and politicians was more acceptable. Newspaper stories often try to present a "one rule for us, another rule for them" view when they expose malpractice and wrongdoing; looked at in a certain way, perhaps the public at large can be accused at some level of the same hypocrisy. It can't be denied that muck-raking involves muck, but whilst there may be cases from time to time where the end might justify the means, wholesale phishing can't pass that test.

Murdoch has killed off the toxic brand. I assume he's perfectly aware, but doesn't care, that it's him that is considered toxic by many people. There's a lot of hand-wringing saying that those who may lose their jobs aren't the people who were involved in the phone-hacking days. No doubt that's true of some people and maybe not so true of others; and in any case, I find no-one claiming the culture at the paper has changed. Certainly its end product hadn't.

There's speculation that the only reason Rebekah Brooks still has her job is because of what she has on the Murdochs. I think that's possible, but it seems more likely to me that it might be that if she goes, James Murdoch will have to go too, and The Emperor wouldn't like that.

The police failure/collusion/corruption in all of this is at the moment a secondary story, but ultimately isn't it the more serious?

Milliband is doing the best he can, but again like MPs expenses, they're all in it. Perhaps the Lib Dems should be coming to the fore, and I'm not sure why Nick Clegg hasn't been more prominent; it seems unlikely they've had very much involvement with the tabloid press. Certainly St Vincent of Cable must be quietly satisfied in an "I told you so" sort-of way.

Murdoch is like the banks; he obviously reckoned News Corp was "too big to fail", and maybe it is. Unfortunately for him, however, the politicians are beginning to lose their fear of him, for once led by public opinion that is detached from Murdoch. It may well be the longevity of enquiries that will put paid to the BSkyB takeover, rather than any "fit and proper person" test.

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