I’m enthralled over the News International phone-hacking scandal, primarily because it involves so many threads twisting into a shitstorm of Biblical proportions. It involves the media, the police and politicians. It proves that even if American journalism is vile and contemptible, British journalism is much worse, like Hitler performing open-heart surgery on Mother Theresa with a chainsaw.
It disgraced the News of the World, which folded after 168 years, and turned the head up on Rupert Murdoch and News International, a subsidiary of News Corporation.
The scandal involved journalists acting as low-rent versions of James Bond, hacking into the cellphones of prominent figures and listening to voicemails. The News of the World hacked into the voicemails of the Royal Family, of celebrities and of politicians.
Journalists paid private investigators to hack into voicemails of the 7/7 bombing victims. But the most unforgivable was the hacking of Milly Dowler’s cellphone. Dowler was 13 when she went missing in March 2002. News of the World hacked into Dowler’s voicemail. Unbeknownst to her parents, Dowler had been murdered. Wanting to hear more details from new voicemails, the hackers deleted voicemails when the mailbox was full, giving Dowler’s parents false hope that there daughter was still alive.
In their quest for information, the News of the World paid off police officers, private detectives and employed tactics only Cold War spy agencies would envy.
The public’s trust in journalism has failed with this scandal. In poll after poll, the media receives low overall ratings in credibility and honesty. Perhaps that’s deserved.
When you overstep your bounds and pry into the privacy of citizens, you’re not a newspaper. You’re the NSA.