Rupert Murdoch has arrived at Wapping today, as he attempts to take control of the growing crisis that has engulfed the Sun and News International in Britain.
As Brian Cathcart writes in the Guardian, it’s been a bad month for the organisation, and a strange one for the press as a whole:
If you had told me just a few weeks ago that these five things would come to pass, I would have laughed in your face.
• The Sun would complain that the police are trying too hard and are being mean to crime suspects.
• Sun journalists would seek trade union help with legal action under the Human Rights Act.
• The Daily Mail would go to court to prevent the Leveson inquiry (and thus the public) from hearing information on the grounds that the source is anonymous.
• Rupert Murdoch’s News International would be accused – by journalists – of co-operating too vigorously with the police.
• Some national newspapers would argue, at least by implication, that corruption in public office, that staple of journalistic investigation and outrage, doesn’t really matter.
The hypocrisy of some members of the press – not just News International, since the Daily Mail came out to bat for ‘press freedom’ – is astounding.
As Matthew Norman shows in the Independent, even the line on something like dawn raids betrays a desire for special treatment above and beyond what can be defended in the name of press freedom:
Until recently as slavish a fuzz fan as Dominic [Mohan, Sun Editor], Trevor [Kavanagh] had an epiphany on Saturday when officers woke five colleagues, searched their homes, and invited them down the nick to help with their enquiries into the bribing of public officials such as their exceptional selves.
Or, as Trevor put it in his columnar cri de coeur, “needlessly dragged [them] from their beds in dawn raids“.
If it did sound absurdly melodramatic, so did the 2007 dawn raid on Harry Redknapp, when a Sun team was on hand to record his arrest in words and photos. If Trevor kept his disgust to himself then, doesn’t that make his courage in speaking out now all the more impressive?
The fact is, however, that despite their sudden conversion to the cause of human rights and newfound antipathy towards the police, the majority of Sun employees have far more to fear from inside the company than out.
On the one hand, Murdoch has told staff that he will launch the Sun on Sunday, a replacement for the disgraced News of the World, “very soon”; on the other, the chairman of the News International Staff Association is warning that:
Everyone is looking over their shoulder … The joke is if you get past 7am this Saturday we have jobs for another week.
One thing is clear. There will be more arrests, and Murdoch will have to deal with that fallout; how he does that is anyone’s guess.
• The Sun “tax avoiding” front page you won’t have seen this morning – Shamik Das, October 26th 2011
• What does Coulson have on Cameron and Murdoch? – Tom Rouse, August 23rd 2011
• Another Murdoch crony falls as The Sun gets dragged into scandal – Shamik Das, July 16th 2011
• Hypocrite Murdoch tells us how to vote yet avoids billions in tax – Claire French, July 11th 2011
• Murdoch’s boast he has “editorial control on major issues” could come back to haunt him – Kevin Meagher, July 6th 2011