Long before it was possible to hack phones, Murdoch was waging a war on journalism, truth, humanity, and succeeded because he knew how to exploit a system that welcomed his devotion to the “free market”. He may be more extreme in his methods, but he is no different in kind from many of those now lining up to condemn him who have been his beneficiaries, mimics, collaborators, apologists.
As Gordon Brown turns on his former master, accusing him of running a “criminal-media nexus”, watch the palpable discomfort in the new parliamentary-media consensus. “We must not be backward-looking,” said a Labour MP. Those parliamentarians caught two years ago with both hands in the Westminster till, who did nothing to stop the killing of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, and stood and cheered the war criminal responsible, are now “united” behind the “calm” figure of Ed Miliband. There is an acrid smell of business as usual.
Certainly, there is no “revolution”, as reported in the Guardian, which compared the fall of Murdoch with that of the tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania in 1989. The overexcitement is understandable; Nick Davies’s scoop is a great one. Yet the truth is, Britain’s system of elite monopoly control of the media rests not on News International alone, but on the Mail and the Guardian and the BBC, perhaps the most influential of all. All share a corporate monoculture that sets the agenda of the “news”, defines acceptable politics by maintaining the fiction of distinctive parties, normalises unpopular wars and guards the limits of “free speech”. This will be strengthened by the illusion that a “bad apple” has been “rooted out”.