Interesting Times

We’re living in the middle of a dystopian comedy plot; something of a cross between Tom Sharpe and Terry Pratchett. How else could things be so ridiculous? The Leveson Inquiry is producing some stonking sound bites – as I suppose we should expect from the tabloid attention-seeking minds of McMullan and co.

Paul McMullan’s evidence to Leveson, as quoted by the Beeb is amazing. At least he claims he was – and is – honest: unlike Brooks and Coulson. “My assertion has always been that Andy Coulson brought that practice wholesale with him when he was appointed deputy editor,” he said. “We did all these things for our editors, for Rebekah Brooks and for Andy Coulson.”

“You only have to read Andy Coulson’s column in [the Sun’s] Bizarre where it would just be littered with … ‘Pop star A is leaving messages on pop star B’s phone at 2am in the morning saying ‘I love you and shall we meet up for a drink?’. I mean, it was that blatant and obvious – I don’t think anyone realised that anyone was committing a crime at the start.”

“Circulation defines what is the public interest. I see no difference between what the public is interested in and the public interest. Surely they are clever enough to make a decision whether or not they want to put their hand in their pocket and bring out a pound and buy it.”

“Privacy is the space bad people need to do bad things in,” McMullan said. “Privacy is for paedos.”

No, Mr McMullan. Privacy is feeling safe in your own home. It’s being able to go about daily life without fear or anxiety that your neighbours have been bribed, your phone hacked, your rubbish explored and your web-cam compromised.

You are confusing “in the public interest” with “what the public is interested in – ” the salacious, titillating tripe served with the collusion of desperate z-listers that you classed as “news”.

If you were hacking “in the public interest” then you might have looked at your own bosses – after all, Coulson was by then Cameron’s Press Sec. You could have picked on the Murdoch’s murky empire. You could have kept tabs on lobbyists, war mongers and arms dealers, bankers buggering our economy.

The Murdoch empire papers had “privacy to do bad things in”, to use McMullan’s own phrase and they abused that privilege. Times they are a-changin’: the papers –all media – need watching more carefully.

Come writers and critics

Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin
                                          (c) Bob Dylan

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