News Int-erference: Murdoch tightens grip on Times

A culture of fear has gripped News International's newsrooms. A senior source suggested that The Times general election coverage has become politically motivated.

A culture of fear has gripped News International’s newsrooms as the prospect of a hung parliament suggests that their endorsement of the Conservatives has not “had the impact that they wanted”, according to a senior source. Insiders are concerned that after The Sun’s early endorsement of David Cameron failed to guarante victory, The Times’ election coverage has been politically motivated.

After The Times spiked a story about Baroness Warsi’s remarks that Muslim MPs “don’t have any principles”, a News International executive told Left Foot Forward:

“There’s been alarm at the prospect that their endorsement of the Conservatives may not have had the impact that they wanted.

“Tom Newton-Dunn [The Sun’s political editor] is going around the News of the World saying that they have to get more fully on board as Rebekah [Brooks, chief executive of News International] wants to deliver.

“James Harding [The Times’ editor] – having been widely blamed by Murdoch for failing to land the expenses story – has been weakened and less able to resist pressure from Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch over the political direction of the paper.”

There are also rumoured to have been meetings in the News International canteen where members of staff were told not to take the Liberal Democrats seriously. The remarks are consistent with other accounts of News International’s behaviour in the run up to the general election. Respected Vanity Fair journalist, Michael Wolff, reported that Mr Newton-Dunn told a group of journalists, “It is my job to see that Cameron fucking well gets into Downing Street”. Meanwhile, The Independent last week reported that:

“Gillian Duffy, the Rochdale pensioner whom Gordon Brown described as “a sort of bigoted woman”, turned down the chance to make a small fortune from selling her story to The Sun because the newspaper wanted her to say things she did not believe.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.