Richard Ingrams: Journalists, as well as politicians, fawn on Murdoch

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

By the mysterious process which Carl Jung called "synchronicity", a picture of Rupert Murdoch flanked by the journalists Harold Evans and William Rees-Mogg appeared in The Times on Thursday, the very same day that Murdoch's 1981 takeover of The Times was being recalled in a House of Commons debate.

The point at issue was that the editorial independence which Murdoch is currently guaranteeing to Sky News was exactly the same kind of guarantee he had offered The Times and subsequently and swiftly reneged on.

The picture, used to illustrate extracts from Rees-Mogg's newly published memoirs, has always invited a comparison with Munich, with Murdoch playing the part of Hitler, Rees-Mogg as Chamberlain, Harold Evans as Halifax – all very appropriate in view of The Times's famous support for the cause of appeasement during the 1930s.

Journalists have a regrettable tendency to kowtow to big businessmen like Murdoch. I only met Rees-Mogg once when he took me out to lunch about 35 years ago at the famous old French restaurant L'Etoile in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia. His aim was to impress upon me the merits of my legal opponent at the time, the ruthless and unpleasant tycoon Sir James Goldsmith, whom Rees-Mogg greatly admired and, according to his book, still does.

I can't now remember anything of what he said. All I recall from the occasion is the way the elderly French waiter served coffee by pouring it from an old-fashioned enamel coffee pot through a little sieve. After many years fiddling around with expensive percolators, I have realised that this is much the best and quickest way to make coffee.

One effect of the decline of court reporting

As the controversy about the recent Millie Dowler murder case rolled on, one thing became plain. No one had any proper knowledge of what had been said in the course of the long trial, and therefore no yardstick by which to decide who, if anyone, was to blame for what had gone on in the court. Was it the defence lawyer? Was it the judge?

Very old readers may remember a time when armies of court reporters sat through lengthy murder trials like this, day after day, recording every word of evidence. The Telegraph in particular was famous for devoting sometimes two or three pages to the cross-examination of the witnesses.

They liked to maintain that they were performing some kind of public service. But the real reason was that it was a simple way, in the days when prurience prevailed, of introducing scandalous and very often salacious details into what was otherwise a pretty boring newspaper. There was more than enough material of this kind in the Dowler trial.

Papers no longer keep track of court proceedings any more than they do of parliamentary debates. But the courts and the Houses of Parliament are two places where people can still speak with total freedom and where interesting and important things are likely to be said.

Do we really have to be all in this together?

Politicians are busy nowadays reaching out. It's not enough to cater for the faithful – you have a duty to reach out to those of other faiths. So if you wonder why Ed Milliband, for example, is saying something bland and non-committal, as he did this week apropos the strikes on Thursday, the chances are that he is only reaching out to the Tories and the Lib Dems.

The late Christopher Shale, the chairman of the West Oxfordshire Conservative Association, was also reaching out when he wrote in the memo leaked to the press just before he died at the Glastonbury Festival: "We must look different when we communicate when we're together. We must sound different – in what we say, how we say it, the language we use, our tone of voice. We must behave differently – try to see ourselves as others see us."

But how does Shale's message translate itself into action? Typically, in the Prime Minister's case, by instituting an annual reach-out party at No 10 for the nation's top gays and lesbians. The sad thing is that so many of the nations top gays and lesbians are prepared to jump at the invitation, when all they are doing is helping to make David Cameron look caring and compassionate and ever so different.



React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.  

The Only Way is Ethics: The birth of a royal baby will not top the news for long

Will Gore
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk