Thursday, 2 September 2010

New York Times investigates what most of the British media won't

The New York Times has published a damning, and rather depressing, investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World.

It repeats convincing claims that the practice was far more widespread than the paper has ever admitted and once again implicates then-editor Andy Coulson:

One former editor said Coulson talked freely with colleagues about the dark arts, including hacking. “I’ve been to dozens if not hundreds of meetings with Andy” when the subject came up, said the former editor, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The editor added that when Coulson would ask where a story came from, editors would reply, “We’ve pulled the phone records” or “I’ve listened to the phone messages.”

It must be said that much of the New York Times' article is based on anonymous sources, a fact that has been used by the News of the World to (surprise) dismiss the allegations.

Managing Editor Bill Akass' letter to the NYT accuses the paper of being involved in nothing more than a smear of a rival newspaper company (whereas the Times and Sun would never dream of running articles sniping at the BBC, say).

But he also claims:

Every area addressed by your questions has already been...put to, and answered by our executives during public hearings conducted by the Committee.

Anyone who saw those hearings, and heard those executives repeatedly 'answer' with 'I don't remember' and 'I don't recall' will know what nonsense that is. The Select Committee report called it 'collective amnesia':

Throughout we have repeatedly encountered an unwillingness to provide the detailed information that we sought, claims of ignorance or lack of recall, and deliberate obfuscation. We strongly condemn this behaviour which reinforces the widely held impression that the press generally regard themselves as unaccountable and that News International in particular has sought to conceal the truth about what really occurred.

The NYT also makes serious allegations about the Metropolitan Police, questioning why it seemed to have severely limited its investigation and why it appeared so reluctant to inform other people that they may have been hacked. The paper points out that the police commissioner who led the investigation, Andy Hayman, is now a columnist for the Times.

But there's one other serious question raised by the article - and that is for the British media.

At the time of writing, the Guardian - who have led the way in investigating this story - and the FT have followed up on it, as have the Press Gazette, two people at the Spectator and Gary Gibbon at Channel Four News. But the rest of the mainstream media are completely ignoring it?



  1. As Nick Davies put in in "Flat Earth News", dog doesn't eat dog.

    Hence the lack of coverage over the payout which resulted substantially from Andy Coulson's bullying.

    Whether the same applies Stateside may not to be the case.

  2. Isn't there some kind of "unwritten rule" that papers don't criticise each other?

  3. Another great blog.

    As you say, so disappointing a US newspaper has done a far better job than any of the UK media on this one. And I'd love to know the reasons why too, ignoring the obvious reason Murdochs papers don't cover it, why have so few others covered this. Are the Tory ones too loyal to throw sh*t at Coulson and the current govt. And more importantly why noting on the BBC, they really should be covering a story of this magnitude. After all this kind of action by NOTW is not some minor discrepancy

  4. Where are the rest of the British media? Hanging behind guilty as hell because they would do the same as the Screws and because most have bought information from the police.

  5. Probably because the rest of the media is News International. Almost.

    Although, the BBC mentioned it this mornin, very briefly, three days late. And the NOTW response letter is pathetically smug - as if they follow any of those principles they demand of the Times

  6. And of course, idiots like Guido Fawkes are trying to put the focus on unimportant stories like Hague's SpAd, waving his hands and diverting attention from this massive story. On the instructions of Coulson?

    Tom Watson MP has promised to take it further, as he believes Parliament was misled.

  7. Presumably the NOTW were aware that this story was due to break which is probably why they are pushing the cricket corruption case has hard as possible. It would be interesting to know if phone tapping was used when investigating their latest scoop. At least one story in 'The Sun' this week has mentioned the fact that the phone of the man at the centre of the allegation was very busy when Pakistan were playing matches.

  8. I imagine it's because this story has no hard, pounding buttsex involved, unlike that Hague story. Obviously, the British public do not care about anything unless it has hard, pounding buttsex in it. Nothing to do with the enormous amount of control Murdoch et al have over this country and the media output. Nothing whatsoever.


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