A reporter’s job can be distasteful, even in the most legitimate forms of media. Sometimes, you are not much better than a vulture, picking the bones of someone else’s tragedy to earn your bread. But that’s nothing compared to the tabloid press.
You’ve seen the headlines as you stand in line at the supermarket – some movie star or other celebrity is inevitably being held up to ridicule, hatred or contempt, which by definition is libel, pure and simple. Yet the tabloid press gets away with it. Few victims have the courage to sue, and even if they do they are considered “public figures” in America and are almost totally unprotected.
Even in this world of sleaze, Rupert Murdoch stands out. His media properties engage in the worst kind of tabloid journalism, lying, cheating, inciting and causing great harm to the communities in which they operate.
You know about Fox News, of course. I don’t have to list that cable channel’s iniquities.
And you may have heard of the News of the World. It has set the standard for trash journalism for generations.
This English publication is a pioneer in tabloid “bottom feeding,” scouring the globe for sensational sleaze and twisting and stretching the truth to inflame or titillate its readers.
You might think that even the News of the World might balk at utterly despicable behavior, especially when that behavior might be illegal. But an item in today’s news dispels that idea.
Here’s how the item begins:
British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the alleged hacking of a murdered schoolgirl’s voicemail by the News of the World, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, as the scandal closed in on a top News Corp executive and Murdoch protegee.
That the prime minister should find time to comment while on a visit to troops in Afghanistan was a measure of the uproar at home over suggestions that the tabloid might have hampered police and added to the torment of the family of a 13-year-old, abducted in 2002, whose killer was convicted only last month.
Among those facing new questions about their conduct is Rebekah Brooks, now head of News Corp’s British newspaper arm and editor of the newspaper at the time of the murder of schoolgirl Milly Dowler – one of Britain’s highest profile crimes in years.
According to the item:
British media have said a newspaper investigator not only listened in to messages left on the teenager’s phone after she went missing but may also have deleted some to make space for more — potentially misleading police and giving false hope to her family that she was still alive and at liberty.
Brooks, the editor at the time, is now chief executive of News International, News Corp’s British newspaper arm.
So the editor responsible for this egregious breach of common decency was not punished but instead rose higher in the Murdoch organization’s ranks.
How typical. How sad.
And how revealing. It shows the type of journalist that rises to the top in Rupert Murdoch’s world.
We should keep that in mind when we read or listen to anything any of his media minions have to say.