Simon Kelner, who edited the Independent, tells of being abused by Murdoch fils after his paper had disparaged the family name…
I sat on a sofa, Brooks perched on the arm of another sofa, and Murdoch walked and talked. He was excitable and angry. “You’ve impugned the reputation of my family,” he said at one point. He called me “a fucking fuckwit” and became furious at my bemusement that he should find our campaign so upsetting, given that one of his newspapers famously claimed that it did indeed decide elections.
Brooks said very little, but, when her boss’s rage blew itself out, chipped in with: “We thought you were our friend”. Their use of language and the threatening nature of their approach came straight from the “Mafioso for Beginners” handbook.
The Mafia comparison fell flat when voiced by Tom Watson but Kelner likes it and so do I. (His mistake, as Alexander Chancellor notes, was to accuse James, the consummate consigliere, of being the boss.) As Jeremy Hunt is accused of aiding the family in their attempt to purchase BSkyB it seems that like the Cosa Nostra the Murdochs have apparent public servants who are willing to serve their business interests. Their gang idly transgresses ethical and legal boundaries. Their critics are liable to be subject to campaigns of persecution and disinformation. And, yet, as with all the most notorious of Mafiosos, they appear to stay ever so slightly detached from the misdeeds of their soldi, er, employees and are still perceived as upstanding members of society by the dignitaries that they bump into at functions.
Crucially, their empire is one that defies the conventions of society while feeding off and corrupting it. This doesn’t merely refer to the scale of the criminality that much of it seems to be founded on but the scope of its ideological penetration. Let’s recall that almost everyone one of Murdoch’s titles backed the war on Iraq (the exception, it seems, was the Papua New Guinea Courier Mail). So, let’s tear apart the doors that reveal the backroom dealings that our supposed enlighteners have worked so hard to conceal. I only hope the Leveson Inquiry is as or more effective than Giovanni Falcone’s Maxi Trials.