There is no doubting the severity of the crisis engulfing the News of the World – Murdoch is being hit where it hurts – financially. However in an attempt to put some distance between themselves and the Screws, the Times have called this the journalistic equivalent to the expenses crisis. Guido isn’t so sure.
As we said here all along, it was pretty obvious that “Coulson is as guilty as sin of condoning that culture” and he got the Screws job because he got the stories. He’s walked twice for what happened on his watch, which is more than Rebekah Brooks can say. This scandal will not go away until her head is offered up on a plate, and rightly so. Yet there is still no inkling of a paper trail linking Coulson to phone-hacking, but it does seems evidence of the more serious (in legal, rather than moral terms) crime of paying coppers for information. A practice no way exclusive to News International, or the times. The Mirror, the Mail and even the Observer were all caught pulling illegal tricks for stories, but is every journalist guilty by association? Of course not.
More than half of the last Parliament had to repay money, tacitly admitting their guilt. For over thirty years the expenses scandal shamed both Parliament and the conspiratorial establishment and silent Lobby hacks. Are over half of journalists currently under suspicion? No. Is this going to lead to nearly half of hacks retiring or getting fired, as it did with the MPs? No. Does this confirm the suspicion that all tabloids make things up and are bent? Not entirely, there is an irony that it was the lengths the Screws went to stand up a crap true story, rather than make one up.
Obviously a line was crossed, catching out a liar by listening to their voicemail can be sold to the public. Raiding the privacy of suffering citizens cannot. This crisis is monstrous for Murdoch, but the Telegraph, BBC and Guardian Media Group are having an absolute field day. Far from being a crisis for them, this is all their Christmases rolled into one.