Janet Daley says yes, they are:
This has gone way, way beyond phone hacking. It is now about payback. Gordon Brown‘s surreal effusion in the House last week may have made it embarrassingly explicit, but the odour of vengeance has been detectable from the start: not just from politicians who have suffered the disfavour of Murdoch’s papers, or the trade unions (and their political allies) who have never forgiven him for Wapping, but from that great edifice of self-regarding, mutually affirming soft-Left orthodoxy which determines the limits of acceptable public discourse – of which the BBC is the indispensable spiritual centre. The influence of the BBC as a monitor of what is politically admissible is almost incalculable: the entire Tory modernisation project was effectively made necessary (as its chief architects often admit) by the need to get a fair hearing on its news coverage.
But the power of the BBC – and its historical hatred for the “Murdoch empire” – is just one aspect of a larger battle which has now leapt across the Atlantic, where the target is not newspapers which can be legitimately charged with having committed unconscionable acts, but Fox News. Its offence is to have filled such a huge gap in the market for television news and current affairs that it has swept all before it.
The hacking scandal is obviously bad and growing, but no one should delude themselves about it. As Mike McNally pointed out here at the Tatler, News of the World probably isn’t the only British media outlet to hack phones. For some strong evidence that Daley is right about the ideological angle, look no farther than Rathergate. Or the systematic leftward tilt of the New York Times and pretty much the entire media establishment. When Dan Rather was caught in a scandal over faked National Guard documents intended to smear President Bush, did anyone anywhere on the left or in the media call for CBS itself to be shuttered? Even though it’s pretty much up to Rather’s old tricks, in its latest “poll”? Do they call for the Times to be shut down because it is at times the de facto mouthpiece for the Democrats? And when I say “at times,” I mean about 99% of the time.
The Democrats themselves have consistently attacked Fox News, from Howard Dean suggesting he would shut it down if he were president to tax-exempt Media Matters’ all-out partisan war on Fox (which, by the way, should cost them their tax-exempt status but no one in the MSM is investigating that at all), to several Democratic presidential candidates shunning Fox in 2008. They have always hated Fox. As long it’s not another liberal media toady, they always will hate Fox. Now, the overseas hacking scandal at News of the World is providing the pretext to attack it again.
And that’s true even though Rupert Murdoch may well employ more journalists worldwide than anyone else on the planet. In this awful economy, you’d think that would win him a point or two among journalists who like to have a job and an income. But the ideology in question trumps other concerns.