What a scandal in Britain.
Here’s the gist of it, in case you haven’t been following it closely. (And there’s a good reason that Kansas City area residents might not be following it closely. More on that in a minute.)
The revelations of cellphone hacking and police payoffs by reporters and editors at The News of the World, Britain’s top-selling newspaper, are probably going to bring down Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron is chummy with media baron Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. holdings provide a significant portion of the world’s flow of information, print and electronic.
Today, Andy Coulson, former editor of The News of the World (which is printed only on Sunday), was arrested in connection with allegations of phone hacking and paying police for sensitive information when he was editor of the paper.
The problem for the government’s Conservative Party, which is in power now, is that Coulson had most recently worked as chief spokesman for Cameron, the prime minister.
Anticipating Coulson’s arrest, a front-page New York Times story today said: “His arrest…would be a huge blow not just to Mr. Murdoch, but to the government and to Mr. Cameron’s Conservative Party. The prime minister has always vouched for Mr. Coulson’s integrity and said he believed Mr. Coulson’s assurances that he had cone nothing wrong (at The News of the World).”
This story is one that cries out for wall-to-wall coverage, and The Times is delivering. Today, it had five stories that covered more than two full pages.
The story has it all: corruption, outrage, political entanglement and, yes, an attractive and bodacious woman.
The bodacity comes in with Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, the British subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp. Yesterday, rather than heed calls to fire Brooks, who was editor at The News of the World when a lot of the phone hacking was taking place, Murdoch and his son, James Murdoch, opted to close The News of the World.
(Sunday will be its final edition; its 200 employees have been cut loose to try to find jobs at other Murdoch papers or elsewhere.)
The Times’ coverage today of the scandal included a 48-column-inch story on Page A8 about Brooks. The story says, in part:
“Her closeness to Mr. Murdoch, who is said to regard her as a kind of favorite daughter (although he has four actual daughters), has protected her during the recent scandal engulfing the company, even as legislators called on her to resign.”
The story quoted an unnamed source as saying, “Rupert Murdoch adores her — he’s just very, very attached to her. To be frank, the most sensible thing that News Corp. could do would be to dump Rebekah Brooks, but he won’t.”
So, yesterday, when Brooks called a staff meeting in offices of The News of the World, many staff members assumed Brooks would be announcing her resignation.
“Instead,” the front-page Times story said, “she announced that she was to stay and they were to go.”
I mentioned at the top that there was a good reason that many Kansas City area residents might not be following this explosive story closely.
Today’s Kansas City Star devoted exactly one paragraph to the story, on Page A3. Here it is:
“Paper Folds: The Murdoch media empire abruptly killed off the muckraking News of the World tabloid Thursday after a public backlash over the illegal tactics used by Britain’s best-selling weekly newspaper to expose celebrities.”
Oh, my. Oh, my. I am ashamed for my former paper, which I still love in spite of its downhill spiral.
Is it any wonder people have been dropping the paper by the thousands for several years?
As a side note, I couldn’t tell what kind of coverage Thursday’s print edition gave the story because my paper was absolutely soaked from the morning rain, even though the paper was in a thin plastic bag.
Yesterday morning I went online to report a wet paper and was informed that I would get a replacement today, along with today’s paper.
Well, I got today’s paper, but yesterday’s was nowhere to be found…Patiently, I wait.