THE LEVESON inquiry into the phone hacking scandal took a much more sinister and serious turn this week. It was transformed from an exploration of newspaper ethics into a full-frontal assault on the conduct of Britain's police.
Over four days, evidence emerged that called into question the way in which the Metropolitan police handled its original investigation into hacking and, just as significantly, its five-year denial of there being anything worth investigating.
Along the way we discovered the intensely close relationship between senior journalists at Rupert Murdoch's UK publishing company, News International, and high-ranking officers from Scotland Yard. The links were cemented through lunches, dinners, drinks, including the quaffing of champagne, and visits to football matches. And, most bizarre of all, there was the case of the retired police horse lent to the company's former chief executive, Rebekah Brooks.
Response to Irish Times article
Mr. Greenslade is correct when he says that this is a continuous revelation that seems to have no bottom, but yet more and more bubbling up of murky plots and subversion of media influence.
Where potential exists to make money and keep business profitable, there will always be the opportunity for abuse and corruption. Press media is no different, and considering the widespread public appetite for titillation, the potential outcome of a journalist’s writings can serve to give licence to get the story, any story, at any price, as they then become the big cheese reporter. Lives can be destroyed by a single sentence, but tomorrow’s story looms, so the cost of harm done is yet again ignored, as it becomes profitable to those who choose ignorance. And it is a choice, but when you are dealing with people like Yates, who can casually respond to the question of whether or not he considered there was any personal perception of improper inference on his judgment, “My conscience is clear,” it just shows that it’s easy to keep your conscience clear if you don’t allow it to be influenced by anything that might inform it of better. If you don’t use something it’s easy to keep it clean; as in, hear no evil, see no evil etc.
Of course not all reporters are like this, just some of them, and to be fair, many do succeed in moderating self promotion over an above the call of duty. However, in any system where the newest story becomes a do-or-die rush for fame and peer recognition, humans can very often slip down the evolutionary ladder very quickly, often ignoring the fact that they may be trampling with reckless abandon on the lives of their fellow man.
Permission to behave in such a manner is ultimately set by the overarching authority of the owners of the particular enterprise, and if the general ethos is for staff to follow the prevailing example once it even become tacitly perceived as being the way to go, then that will prevail by proxy. A nod and a wink, or the unsaid but understood message, can serve to let loose the practice of whatever suits the prevailing climate; a climate where the thermostat is set by the gods in charge of the upper echelons, where the sweated profits from unjust practices often accumulate, thus feeding the beast that created the process in the first place. However, the thirst for power is a poisonous drive, eventually exhausting itself and creating an opposite and equal force that causes it to consume itself from the tail upwards; but man never really learns, does he?
We are living in a time of the airing of dirty laundry in many societal fields, be they political, media or religious, and be sure there is much more to come. Such times can be hard for the average man or woman in the street to get to grips with, and can tend to make them wonder as to what is real and what is not, what can they depend on, or not. However, it’s good to know that at least some of those who make a living from the press media are similarly shocked and disgusted by the depths of the corrosion and perversion. It’s a pity, as in other similar power-bases of society, including politics and religion, that the best of humane thinking is left outside of the primary spheres of influence, to all our collective cost. That’s our fault.