Burying the lede

That’s US press jargon for putting the key item in a story so far down no-one will read and it certainly applies to this David Carr story about NewsCorp in the US. You have to get down to the bottom of the first page to discover that News settled, very generously, a claim in which it was accused of hacking a competitors systems. That seems to undermine the common assumption (including mine) that the specific pathology of hacking was confined to the UK.

31 thoughts on “Burying the lede

  1. Slightly off-topic but the striking thing about the big global media stories (Wikileaks & Hackergate) over the past year has been the leading role of the Guardian newspaper in both its investigating and advocating departments. Their ground breaking reports shows the critical importance of having diversified media ownership to “keep the bastards honest”.

    The Guardian more or less broke the Wikileaks story and played a crucial role in sorting and disseminating the nuggets of information. And they have made most of the running in Hacker-gate, which has already taken some huge scalps from their competitors.

    I enjoy the Guardians science coverage, although I cordially detest their Left-liberal political correct world-view. But they deserve heaps of praise for keeping accountability in both the media and government. Well done Grundian!

  2. Heard on the news this morning that Patti Newton has claimed her phone was hacked when Bert Newton was ill.

    UK yes, US and Australia maybe.

  3. Personally I don’t find that phone hacking per se is such a big deal, at least with public figures (murder victims and fallen soldiers, thats another thing). Its wrong and against the law, but I can think of half-dozen abuses of power that the Murdoch media empire have been guilty of right off the top of my head. Going after Gough in 1975, all out support of the Iraq war, climate denial etc.

    I am struck by the similarities between the rise and fall of Richard Nixon and Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, like Nixon, has accumulated alot of enemies over the years, who have been circling cautiously for a long time. Hacker-gate is a running sore and now they smell blood in the water.

    There are many parallels to Nixon’s Watergate and Murdoch’s Hacker-gate. Both are third-rate burglary which caused the unravelling of another powerful political machine. Both started out liberal in some respects (Nixon with civil rights, Murdoch with indigenous issues), both built some great things (Nixon rebuilt the REPs and went to China, Murdoch established the Australian) yet both succumbed to the temptations of seeking worldly power by corrupt means (fill in the many blanks).

    Interesting too how similarly Nixon and Murdoch treated their -gate scandals. Initially covering up. Then deflecting. Later sacking members outer circle. Now amputating diseased limbs and sacking members of the inner circle.

    How long before Murdoch finds his John Dean, a member of the inner circle prepared to turn state’s witness in order to spill the beans on the boss? In the age of Wikileaks there must be someone out there with a digital trail of dirt.

  4. Jack Strocchi :
    I enjoy the Guardians science coverage, although I cordially detest their Left-liberal political correct world-view. But they deserve heaps of praise for keeping accountability in both the media and government. Well done Grundian!

    You have to be kidding.
    Yes, the Guardian deserves praise for its investigations; but overall their stance on many matters is the usual globalised corporate position rather than ‘Left-liberal’. You ought to read ‘Newspeak’ by David Edwards and David Cromwell, and have a gander at their website ‘Medialens’ for counterpoints to those who wax lyrical about the supposedly independent UK papers or the BBC.


  5. Maconda @ #5 said:

    You have to be kidding…overall their stance on many matters is the usual globalised corporate position rather than ‘Left-liberal’.

    “Globalised corporate-speak” and “Left-liberal political correctness” are complementary, rather than contradictory, ideological positions. They reinforce each other, Right-liberals get cheap labour, Left-liberals get captive voters.

    Most likely Hacker-gate is simply an example of pay-back against News Ltd and a pre-emptive strike against BSkyB. The Guardian and the BBC, who have both been running with the Hacker-gate story like crazy, have for a long time been looking for an opportunity to get even with News Ltd in the UK.

    BSkyB looked like it was going to be a British version of Fox News, not exactly a refreshing source of competition for the denizens of Hampstead or Notting Hill. So the Guardian-BBC axis will be happy if Murdoch’s bid is sunk.

    One of the many virtues of pluralistic competition is that it does not have to rely on the Platonic good-will and civic-mindedness of the competitors. The tall-poppy syndrome is enough to prevent the growth of over-mighty subjects.

    BTW, not kidding about the Guardian’s obsessive-compulsive commitment to Left-liberal political correctness. Its sincerely believed by educated people, and prominently displayed as a kind of ideological hood ornament. A half-hour on its “comment is free” op-ed page is enough to turn even the most wishy-washy liberal into foaming-at-the-mouth reactionary, as a simple immune response.

  6. the usual globalised corporate position
    is it simply the act of existing that causes this for the guardian?
    as well as brilliant reporting and exposing with wikileaks, murdochalypse and the financial scam of 2007/8 they also ran an excellent series on tax and secrecy havens all over te world,
    no news organisation could satisfy some people,
    and yes medialens is good, but sometimes they are just overly pedantic pains in the arses who have a hammer and think everything is a nail

  7. Most likely Hacker-gate is simply an example of pay-back against News Ltd and a pre-emptive strike against BSkyB.

    only someone totally blinded by his bias could say this now,
    it is obvious that the Met police were corrupt, the politicians were corrupt and the news organisation was corrupt,
    and for you, its just payback by the guardian and the BBC, unbelievable

  8. smiths @ #9 said:

    it is obvious that the Met police were corrupt, the politicians were corrupt and the news organisation was corrupt, and for you, its just payback by the guardian and the BBC, unbelievable

    The fact that “the Met police were corrupt, the politicians were corrupt and the news organisation was [sic] corrupt” does not imply that Guardian-BBC could not also have an ulterior motive for investigating and exposing that corruption.

    You may have noticed that the mass media ecology has gotten a lot less prosperous of late. Good enough reason to want to stomp on the Murdoch gorilla. Although the BBC and Guardian both rely on government funding, the BBC directly through tax and the Guardian indirectly through government ads for bureaucrats and academics. So the Guardian-BBC are not competing for the same funds or the same audience as News.

    Once again, as with Maconda, it is possible for any given thing to be a certain way in one respect and a different way in another respect, or to put it more colloquially, the Guardian-BBC can chew gum and walk at the same time. [problem of Platonic universals finally solved!]

    Organizations are a mixture of personal, professional and political motivations. Thats what makes social science fun. You are right though about “no news organization could satisfy some people”. Thay, co-incidentally, reinforces my point about the importance of having a diversity of media ownership. [problem of Platonic philosopher kings finally solved!]

  9. I had a casual read of “The Advertiser” in Adelaide today – page 26 was the first page where the Murdoch/Brooks phone-hacking scandal was mentioned. Not bad for his original newspaper!

    And then there is “The Australian”: risible is their inclusion of the op-ed from the “Wall Street Journal”, patronisingly telling the reader that one bad apple doesn’t make the whole barrel bad (ie NOTW being the bad apple). In the same edition of the Oz, we had representatives from pretty much every institute and/or group that wants Gillard’s blood, and/or stand against the carbon tax. And they want us to believe that the newspapers act like individual, independent agents. Hah – bloody – hah!

    Tonight’s stage of the big race might have some competition with the inquiry in Britain later tonight (Aus time).

  10. Murdoch has always shuffled Australian and British executives around his empire as needed. I suspect that the phone hacking was a British phenomena not because News International was uniquely wicked; as the link story John points us to says, News America has plenty of shenanigans of its own. It was a British story perhaps because the British phone system was more vulnerable. They did it in the UK because they could, and they don’t do it elsewhere because they can’t.

    So, someone pied the old bastard. I haven’t the stomach to listen to the Murdochs in person (as I type, Rebekah Brooks is looking contrite at the committee) but I got the impression that the old man’s powers are failing- certainly James looked more switched on.

  11. This is a plea to any and all who comment on this scandal not to refer to it as Hackergate as Jack does above. Since Watergate we have had enough “-gates” already. If a slick name needs to be given to it please find something else.

  12. In the Monckton thread I mused on the commodification of propaganda services – modern day manipulation of public opinion as a commercial enterprise (rather than old style government direction from on high) via tankthink, PR and advertising as well as including good old ‘cash for comment’ and it’s available to the highest bidders. Big media and the opinion making machinery itself will tend to take on the aims of the biggest buyers of such services simply as a ‘market’ style mechanism; that’s where their bread is buttered. From as simple as avoiding upsetting big advertising clients to aligning politically with them, it’s how the ‘informing’ part of the media’s role has come to let down democracy by abandoning all but the window dressing of impartiality. The way the media has turned on Gillard, the carbon tax and the climate problem itself is simply a reflection of big coal’s growing interest in purchasing such services; big new players in the advertising market who, after the upset of seeing an interim carbon price get up, have decided that they will not let it become an ongoing cost impost and are willing to spend whatever it takes. And even the current big upset and introspection over the role of the media will be short term noise over a strong trend of commodification of public opinion, which continues unabated. I fear we are going to see our democracy weakened to the point that such corporate influence will own our political system; a glorious future where CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas and the monetary value of our fossil fuel reserves will never be diminished by pigovian taxation.

  13. @Steve at the Pub
    (1) They were hacking phones too.
    (2) They were engaged in similar disgraceful behaviour other than actual hacking.

    Select the correct statement(s).

    Whatever falls on the Murdoch tabloids in the way of a requirement for improved behaviour falls on them too. The hacking is the pointy end of a ongoing cornucopia of ethical transgressions.

  14. As has now been pointed out, News International would have to be the biggest suspect for the hacking of the Climategate emails, wouldn’t they? Given the confluence of climate denialism, technical expertise and moral bankruptcy in that organisation, along with skills in suborning Scotland Yard investigations?

  15. jeeez.

    ole tony t has started to tell those guvmint meanies to lay of the press.

    it’s on ABC .

    weren’t they going to cut out the crap?

    i spose if there was no ABC ——-scratch that.

  16. That Tony Abbott is the only political leader, worldwide, to be springing to News Corps defense does him little credit. Surely he is not expressing gratitude for their longstanding coalition patronage?

    I wonder whether the international media will pick up on Tony’s spirited and ‘noble’ defense?

    Given the multiple allegations, in the UK, as well as what has been proven so-far, allegations covering, violations of national security, corrupting of police, interfering with police investigations, hacking, and whatever else remains yet to be uncovered. Questions of whether News Corp engaged in similar activity are perfectly valid, whether asked by the PM or anyone else.

    This suggests that as well as the Australian police conducting investigations, ASIO should also be investigating, as well as the various crime, anti-corruption, and police integrity commissions.

    Sad that this is necessitated in a time of budget constraint but still the money on investigations should be spent, and would be money well spent.

  17. On another blog, someone suggested that the Murdoch empire wanted the Australian government overthrown because of the NBN. That is, Murdoch is worried that the NBN will undermine his Foxtel interest – hence he’s running the current campaign against the Labor Government.

    Is there any truth to this?

  18. @Macondo

    Yes. The BBC is hardly objective. I was amused listening to them on the DSK scandal. The expert they managed to dig up for one broadcast still seemed to be fighting the Hundred Years war. I was waiting at anytime for him to break into a piece of Pythonesque Frenchie sledging, or to regurgitate the ‘cheese munching surrender monkey’ epithet.

  19. Slightly off topic, but its interesting to note that Murdoch has proved the antidote to the Journo Margo Kingston’s six year “allergy”. What’s more she’s tried to get a group up on FB, a Campaign to have Murdoch media examined in our parliament also. Included are some journo, political and academic names, like Lindsay Tanner and Catherine Lumby.
    Our host is familiar with the reasons, rationale and need sometimes for these tactics, as a signatory himself on previous statements on enviro and financial matters. He will know I am off to progressive blogs like this to encourage theintelligent and qualified people here to join or atleast morally support the campaign.
    If you feel its time to rein in tabloid media; if you feel we have reached a “Bonhoeffer moment” in this communities history, please consider..

  20. @ paul walter

    Our “Bonhoeffer moment” was ten years ago, if you ask me. It’s too late now. We’re all be ruuned, I tell you.

  21. (gloomily) agree Scott- so many things could have been sorted, but for obstructionists. Instead we have the same old problems and after ten years no further advanced-look at the carbon tax and refugees, for a start.

  22. In relation to Murdoch, the trick is to “do the b’sard slowly”. Thats that way Nixon was brought down, drip, drip, drip.

    There shouldn’t be a rush to big inquiries; lay the groundwork first. First, ASCIO, police, various commissions, gather evidence and then a large inquiry as the final nail. Keep his travails in the news. If things are done too quickly it could all be over much to soon and the beast will only be injured, will go back to his lair, and recover. He and his confederates are unlikely to simply collapse; better to wage a war of attrition.

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