Magazine article The Spectator

I'm Not Drunk, and I'm Not Saying That the Phone-Hacking Isn't a Big Deal

Magazine article The Spectator

I'm Not Drunk, and I'm Not Saying That the Phone-Hacking Isn't a Big Deal

Article excerpt

The same conversation, over and over again. 'Well, you can't write about it, can you?'

'Why not?'

'Duh! Rupert Murdoch? He wouldn't let you.'

'You're quite right, actually. He called this morning. "There are questions being asked in parliament, " he said. "The BSkyB deal might fall through and Andy Coulson got arrested the other day. But the one thing we're all worried about, mate, is you writing a whimsical column about it in The Spectator." ' 'You're joking!'

'Yes. I am joking.'

'Well I don't find it very funny. A murdered girl's voicemail? Service families?

9/11 victims? You ought to be ashamed.'

'Why? I didn't do it.'

'Your company did it.'

'Some people working for a bit of my company did it. And I think they should be sacked, and maybe go to jail. Just like you probably do.'

'But that's so hypocritical! Their profits paid your wages.'

'So? Bankers' profits pay nurses' wages.

Should nurses be ashamed of toxic debt?'

'It's not the same! For God's sake! The Sun reported that Gordon Brown's newborn baby was ill!'

'Gross, yeah. But they also put it on the front page. Five years ago. It's hardly something we've just found out, is it?'

'We didn't know they'd broken the law!'

'We still don't know that they'd broken the law. And even if they did, didn't the Telegraph receive stolen goods to publish the expenses files? Didn't the Guardian do the same, to publish WikiLeaks?

Journalism sometimes crosses the line.

Always has.'

'It's not the same thing! A sick kid? I can't believe you're defending them!'

'I'm not. It was gross. I just said. But I always thought tabloids were largely gross.

What did you think?'

'I wouldn't know. I don't take the Murdoch press. No offence, but you people disgust me. Until last week, the Times had barely even reported on phone hacking!'

'None taken. And if you don't take it, how would you know?'

'I think I read it in the Guardian.'

'I doubt it. Actually, nobody bar the Guardian and the Independent reported it more.'

'Whatever. Look, you can't pretend this isn't a big deal. There are TV crews camped outside your offices!'

'I'm not pretending it isn't a big deal. It's a horribly big deal. Although those are completely the wrong offices. We're next door.'

'That's a bit weird.'

'Isn't it?'

'Serves you right, anyway. Good old Labour, for refusing to be bullied. …

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