The BBC has this fantastic interactive timeline infographic (as I believe the kids are calling them) showing the connections between the major players in the News Corp phone hacking shenanigans. (No mention of Jeremy Clarkson though…)
Click through for extra clickage.
Given he’s a Birmingham-ish based MP who’s relatively savvy on issues related to the Internet (you may remember his staunch defying of the party line during the Digital Economy Bill last year) I’ve come to know Tom Watson a bit over the last couple of years. Not in a particularly chummy way but to a point where I’m surprised by those who might attack him. He seems okay to me. A politician, for sure, who does what needs to be done to get elected, but not one of the baddies.
So this interview, off the back of his epic work in the Murdoch / hacking affair, is a welcome look at his 10 year career putting a lot of things into context. Yes, he was a bastard back in the day, one of Gordon Brown’s bruisers, but he’s changed.
“This has been a profoundly life-changing event for me, in many ways. It’s certainly changed my politics. When I was first elected, I was a completely naive and gauche politician. You look at the pillars of the state: politics, the media, police, lawyers – they’ve all got their formal role, and then nestling above that is that power elite who are networked in through soft, social links, that are actually running the show. Why didn’t I know that 10 years ago, and why didn’t I rail against it? Why did I become part of it? I was 34. I’m 44 now. I was naive. But I’ll never let that happen again.”
I’m glad I know him now rather than then.
A report in the Wall Street Journal, sorry, the Onion. via Laura
Most of the good writing on the News of the Word / Hacking / News Corp saga has been of the moment as events moved so quickly, but this one from Gordon Lynch is pretty timeless, presumably because it’s dealing with timeless issues.
The trangression of the News of the World and News Corp is not simply that they acted “unethically” (in a narrow professional sense), or even illegally. In itself, this would be enough to create the mild sense of scandal that had surrounded the phone-hacking story until this week.
The tipping point came when the actions of people associated with the News of the World became profanations, an evil polluting the cherished sacred significance embodied in the stories of Milly Dowler, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, and the 7/7 bombings. It was after this that public figures felt compelled to speak in terms of their “horror” at the “sickening” allegations, that advertisers fled, and the paper was sacrificed.
The moral narrative which the paper had done so much to create turned back on its creator.
The first thing to mention is that the phone hacking episode has nothing at all to do with actual ‘phone’ hacking. It is actually illicit voicemail access. Access can be gained by using some technical knowledge and or tools, but on the whole it is through system and process weaknesses.
It occurs to me I have no idea how to access my voicemail remotely and it never really occurred to me that I could. Thankfully (because I hate it as a way of storing information) I rarely get voicemail.
There’s a lot of “what the hell does it all mean???” going around but John Harris nails a few things for me here.
Yesterday, in the wake of yet more arrests and resignations, I listened to another media appearance by Steve Hewlett, the Guardian columnist and presenter of Radio 4’s Media show – who, in the midst of droves of talking heads coming close to losing theirs, has sounded a dependable note of calm and real insight. As far as I know, he has not talked about the “British Spring”. But when he popped up towards the end of the Today programme, he seemed to agree that something absolutely remarkable was afoot.
“It’s almost as if the whole establishment – the political-media elite – is in a state of wobble,” he said. “Any association with Murdoch and his papers, which quite naturally everybody has had in some form . . . is now so toxic that any mention of it is . . .”
“I mean, look: it’s carnage. It’s almost as if the light has suddenly come on, and everybody has said: ‘Good lord – were we doing that?'”