Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is testifying before the British Parliament today, as part of the widening phone-hacking scandal that appears to be causing the entire British government to disintegrate. In a nutshell, employees of the Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid went on an eavesdropping spree of astonishing dimensions, hacking into the phones of everyone from government officials to a murdered teenager.
Since Murdoch’s media operations endorsed Prime Minister David Cameron and numerous members of his government, the incident has thrown the moribund Labour Party a lifeline, resulting in a massive political earthquake. Observing this, excited leftists have tried to expand the scandal into American mediaspace, but sadly for them, there hasn’t been any way to drag Fox News into it yet.
For his part, Murdoch insists he had no knowledge of his employees’ outrageous behavior, pointing out that this particular paper represented less than 1% of his media empire. In fact, he shut down News of the World immediately when the scandal broke. Critics say he wanted to merge operations into another paper anyway, but when asked if there was a financial motive for shutting News of the World down, he replied, “Far from it.”
Murdoch told Parliament today that he was “shocked, appalled, and ashamed” by the phone hacking, and described the experience as “the most humble day of his life.”
Then somebody threw a pie at him.
As luck would have it, Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng intervened and deflected the highly fattening projectile by striking the assailant. This doesn’t reflect very well on the security at Parliament, although it is now clear to the entire world that Wendi Deng is awesome.
Early reports say the assailant was a comedian named “Jonnie Marbles.” He left Parliament in handcuffs, and some semblance of order was restored.
There is a certain irony to the whole spectacle, since at the heart of the affair – as with the earlier WikiLeaks scandal – lies the question of who gets to make the rules and define “privacy.” Like Julian Assange and his crew, the News of the World hackers claimed that authority for themselves. Now some joker with a pie decides he’ll run past the law to hold Rupert Murdoch personally accountable, no matter what his testimony says.
Every species of anarchy inevitably devolves into some flavor of fascism. The flavor contained within a pie crust is no more appealing. Note how the WikiLeaks gang suddenly lost their fervor for free information when it came to their private data. Newspapers like the New York Times are all in favor of leaks and security breaches… sometimes. I suspect the News of the World hackers would react the same way, if their own cell phone conversations were recorded and used against them.
Likewise, the pie-throwing comedian won’t be pleased if someone in Rupert Murdoch’s family decides to take justice into their own hands during his trial. Show me someone dedicated to “freedom of information” or “justice beyond the system,” and I’ll show you someone who really just wants the power to decide what secrets can be kept, or who should enjoy the benefits of legal protection.