The career of Rebekah Brooks is a parable of modern Fleet Street. More than any other female British journalist of her generation, she has championed journalism which is wanton, opportunistic, inhumane, and hypocritical.
In the New Labour era she vigorously attached herself to Tony Blair, leading him by the hand around swanky parties. Back then she lived in South London with Ross Kemp. Eventually Labour became exhausted, and Cameron's Conservatives rose. Brooks split up with Kemp, moved to Oxfordshire, married racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks – who was at Eton with Cameron's brother Alex – and became a central figure in the Chipping Norton set of political and media illuminati.
Throughout this period, the political allegiance of Brooks' papers swung in accordance with the shifting centre of power in Westminster – that is, according not to deeply held moral convictions, but social and commercial expediency. She has also been responsible for producing acres of repulsively cruel newsprint, and acting with the impudence of a mafia boss.
For example, when Gordon and Sarah Brown were coming to terms with their baby son's diagnosis with cystic fibrosis, Brooks, then editor of The Sun, called them. In an act of blatant inhumanity, she said she knew of the diagnosis and planned to break the story. They begged her not to, but she duly did, adding to their appalling trauma. Can you imagine making that call?
Or take Sarah's Law. Brooks has trumpeted her campaign, as editor of the News of the World, to give parents information about paedophiles as one of her proudest achievements. It is in fact an incitement to mob violence. And at the very time Brooks claimed to be a close friend, details for Sarah Payne were on Glenn Mulcaire's list of targets to hack.
In April last year, Brooks and James Murdoch stormed into the office of former Independent editor Simon Kelner, jabbing fingers and sounding hysterical. They didn't like a campaign featuring Rupert Murdoch, so made threats on his behalf. Those of us in the newsroom that day won't forget the stench of gangsterism that marked their intervention.
At the start of her journalistic career, Brooks was possibly the most gifted reporter of her generation. At the end of it, she is both disgraced and exposed for personifying the base morality that has infected our tabloids. Like other cruel women writers who feign compassion – Amanda Platell and Sandra Parsons, for instance – her work is misanthropy masquerading as public service.