There are three recent articles that have stuck with me over the course of this scandal, and they’re all about the wider pheonmenon, the corrupt culture that allows all these power abuses to take place. At Labour Uncut, Anthony Painter calls News Corporation a ‘monster’:
It is nothing to do with Rupert Murdoch as businessman or as an individual or about his politics. It’s about the over-weaning power of a media empire that seems willing to flex its muscles to infect politics, public discourse, and law enforcement agencies. The point is not to join all the dots painstakingly one by one. It is to say: this media empire is too powerful; it is time to take action.
The difference in the case of News International is that having committed wrong, it was then able to use its power to protect itself. It drew critical public institutions into its web of power in the process
Second, Nick Cohen filed a really interesting column last week on the culture of fear. Few people, says Cohen, are brave enough to be whistleblowers:
I know good journalists at News International, but not one of them challenged a management that was presiding over a criminal conspiracy. If they had spoken plainly, their editors would have fired them and in all likelihood they would never have worked in the media again, because no other manager would want them to do to him what they had done to his predecessors.In their complicity with their superiors, they aped the workers in the City and on Wall Street, who knew that asking awkward questions would ruin their careers.
And finally, the indispensable Jay Rosen delves into the warped corporate culture that prevailed at News Corporation, which allowed hacking to become routine. He brands News Corp as a company primarily interested in weilding influence, with its newspapers and channels as a lobbying tool for that primary purpose. The refusal of the journalists at NI papers to acknowledge this is, says Rosen, the big lie that sows the rest of the deceit.
A corrupt culture, a generic malaise (in which the public is also implicated, by the way) is a much more ephemeral target for those of us who are angry at the power abuses that are now being uncovered. Unfortunately, the slow realisation that our collective psychology has been so abused does not provide the same catharsis of a good political lynching. So we concentrate on the humbling of bêtes noires like Rebekah Brooks and Ruper Murdoch instead.