Friday 15 July 2011

The Daily Mail decides it's time to move on from phone hacking

Today's Mail editorial runs under the headline:

Never mind phone hacking, what about the real issues facing Britain?

So the Mail has decided it's time to move on. Is it because it hopes that people will move on before more questions are asked about the Information Commissioner's What Price Privacy Now? report which revealed the Daily Mail was the newspaper buying most personal information from private investigator Steve Whittamore? Operation Motorman identified 58 Daily Mail journalists completing 952 transactions with Whittamore (compared to the News of the World's 228 transactions).

The Mail says other stories are more important, including the financial crisis in the Eurozone, unemployment, bank loans, mortgages and economic growth.

In a sane world, politicians would be working round the clock to help rectify these dire problems. But sadly, they are far too busy enjoying a frenzy of vengeful score-settling against the Murdoch press.

Even though the News of the World has been closed, the BSkyB takeover bid withdrawn, and Rupert Murdoch has promised to co-operate with the judicial inquiries, the bloodlust – orchestrated by a vastly subsidised BBC – continues.

There's the obligatory attack on the BBC, despite the widespread coverage of the hacking issue across all media, including Sky News. Where is the evidence that the BBC is 'orchestrating' this story? The editorial continues:

The stink of schadenfreude from Britain’s chattering classes is overpowering...

The least [politicians] can do is give their full attention to the all too worrying problems that afflict real people in the real world.

So how has the Mail covered phone-hacking over the last couple of weeks? Have they stayed out of what they call a 'frenzy'?

On 5 July, they covered the revelations about Milly Dowler's phone on the front page (although not the main story) and on page 5. It was the same the following day - front page picture, page 5, plus a lengthy editorial about this 'most squalid and shameful saga'.

It was the main front page story on 7 and 8 July and in the latter, it was also on pages 4-9 and the entire editorial was devoted to the issue. The Eurozone crisis coverage was less than a quarter of page 12.

Andy Coulson's arrest made the front page on Saturday 9 July, which also included coverage on pages 6-9 and in a Stephen Glover column.

On 11 July, the Mail again covered the story on pages 6-9, plus comment pieces by Melanie Phillips and Peter McKay. The Eurozone story took up around half of page two.

It was the front page lead on 12 July, when Richard Littlejohn wrote about it too. It was on the front page (not the lead) and pages 6-9 and the main editorial comment on 13 July. It was on pages 6-9 again on 14 July, accompanied by an editorial and another Stephen Glover op-ed piece, whereas the Eurozone stories were on page 12.

Even today, as the editorial complains about the amount of time politicians are spending on the issue, the paper devotes pages 8-9 to the story and Littlejohn, unusually, devotes his entire column to this one story.

So if the other stories the Mail mentions today are more important, why hasn't it led the way in giving them the prominence they think they deserve? If the Mail is so concerned about the Eurozone crisis, why hasn't it put it on the front page in the last ten days?

No - it's the phone hacking story that's also had the Mail's 'full attention'.

And that's not the only example of 'do as we say, not as we do' in the Mail's editorial today.

The final three sentences mention a spat between House of Commons Speaker John Bercow and MP Tim Loughton:

Children's Minister Tim Loughton takes offence at being castigated by Commons Speaker John Bercow for laughing in the chamber when he was supposed to be silent.

So does he come up with a witty riposte? No, he resorts instead to a stream of sneering insults against the diminutive Speaker on Twitter.

Could political debate in the home of Lloyd-George, Churchill, Bevan and Foot sink any lower?

So that's the Mail, complaining about someone resorting to a 'stream of sneering insults' against Bercow.

The Mail seems to have forgotten running this headline on 17 June 2009:

In which Bercow is referred to as:

a strange, bumptious little man, an unconvincing piece of work.

Or this from Letts on 2 July 2010:

Mr Bercow is an ostentatious changeling, a steaming, confected, self-polishing jobbernowl who makes the Chair look and sound foolish.

And in the Spectator in April 2011, Letts referred to Bercow as a:

preening, sycophantic, short-tempered and grotesque

Letts has also said:

Rancour, partisanship, a figure whose political philosophy dodges round the place like a bouncy ball: yes, folks, the House of cheats and nodding oil derricks just got its perfect Speaker.


There he stood in the big green chair, puffed up like an amphibian that had scoffed too many volauvents.

And frequently refers to him as:

Little Squeaker Bercow.

Apparently, the Mail is upset at others indulging in 'sneering insults' aimed at John Bercow because that's the job of one of their highly-paid columnists.

(More on the Mail's editorial from Angry Mob)


  1. Time to move on from the hacking but still banging on about Diana (sigh).

  2. It's worth noting the level of vitriol aimed at Polly Toynbee in the comments after this article - - the other day which made similar points to your own about the activities of the mail and other tabloids.

    A cynical reader might wonder if the comments could possibly have been orchestrated.


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