Monday, 11 July 2011

New York Times does the "British Spring"

According to the New York Times view of the world we are living through nothing short of a revolution in Britain as politicians cast aside the shackles of the crumbling Murdoch media empire.

David Carr, observing the spreading phone hacking scandal from 30,000 feet, writes: "In truth, a kind of British Spring is under way, now that the News Corporation’s tidy system of punishment and reward has crumbled. Members of Parliament, no longer fearful of retribution in Mr. Murdoch’s tabloids, are speaking their minds and giving voice to the anger of their constituents.

Meanwhile, social media has roamed wild and free across the story, punching a hole in the tiny clubhouse that had been running the country. Democracy, aided by sunlight, has broken out in Britain."

Quite. I'm not sure about a revolution but clearly the hacking scandal has created an atmosphere akin to an insurrection. The story is so chaotic, so well out of control, that no one knows where this will end. There has been a new twist every working hour for the last week and no prospect of the pace slackening over the next few days.

Yesterday the News of the World shut, and today Murdoch's BSkyB bid looks doomed. The Prime Minister's former communications director has been arrested and is being put in the frame (by selective leaks) for ordering the corruption of the Queen's Royal Protection Squad.

The Prime Minister is feeling the heat, the police themselves are under scrutiny, and politicians are running a mile from the Sun God that was Rupert Murdoch. Will it end up with increased plurality in the press, a political class freed from fear of the media?

Who knows, in journalism the industry feels like it is going through a British winter right now, not some kind of revival.

And as I write here comes another breaking line - that Gordon Brown and the Sunday Times are about to become the story of the day. The next act of the saga could be Brown's revenge on Murdoch.

Brown's people deny he's making any statement today but he has been seen around the Commons. This story might not be a revolution, but it is a rollercoaster.

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