It was all good stuff, but the impact of Brown’s histrionics was somewhat blunted by fact that everyone listening knew that Brown and his wife had cooperated with The Sun over the story; had later attended the wedding of former NoW editor Rebekah Brooks; and had invited Brooks, along with Murdoch’s wife Wendi and daughter Elisabeth, to a “slumber party” at the PM’s country residence. Those, though, were happier times — before Murdoch switched his allegiance, prompting Brown to threaten to “destroy’’ Murdoch, according to former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil. (The Guardian, incidentally, was forced to apologize to The Sun for claiming it had illegally accessed the boy’s medical records — just a reminder that not every “revelation” in this affair is true.)
And honorable mention for media hypocrisy must go to the Independent, a UK paper that rivals the Guardian for liberal-left sanctimony and likes to bash “greedy” bankers and fret about transparency in politics and business, and which hasn’t been shy in sticking it to Murdoch. The paper is owned by Alexander Lebedev, a Russian oligarch and, er, former KGB agent. Are you keeping up?
And, back across the Pond, how can we forget our friends at the New York Times — leakers par excellence of state secrets, erstwhile employers of Jayson Blair, and persecutors of the Duke University lacrosse players? The Times has been driving coverage of the hacking scandal in the U.S. Few people will likely recall that, way back in 1996, the Times thought that illegally intercepting a private phone conversation was pretty cool — that was when Democrat Rep. “Baghdad Jim” McDermott leaked a recording of a call in which senior Republicans, including John Boehner, discussed an ethics case against then-Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Don’t expect the truth-seekers at the Guardian and the BBC, or in the Labour Party, to dwell on the above facts, or indeed to mention some of them at all. The thing about being a hypocrite is that it’s only a problem if you’re picked up on it, and those organizations and individuals know that for the most part they’ll get a pass from each other, because there’s a great deal at stake here.
The axis of liberal-leftism comprising the Guardian, the BBC, and the Labour Party sees the phone-hacking scandal as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift the balance of political and media power in Britain, with the ultimate aim of bringing about something that for more than three decades has been unimaginable: a left-wing Labour government, preferably allied with a Liberal Democrat Party chastened by its troubled coalition with the Tories. In the U.S., meanwhile, the left sees the scandal as a chance to go after Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and other Murdoch interests; success, they figure, could even mean the difference between victory and defeat for Obama and the Demcrats in 2012.
But the left has a long track record of making grand predictions based on wishful thinking. A few months ago they were predicting that Wikileaks was going to change the world. A couple of years ago they were convinced Barack Obama would usher in a new liberal era and consign the Republican Party to the scrap heap. And a couple of years before that they were boldly predicting the end of capitalism.
Murdoch may be damaged, but to triumph in the long run the left will have to destroy the free market — both in business and in ideas — on which his empire is built. They’re likely to be disappointed all over again.