Posts Tagged ‘murdoch’
“It is important that we do not jump to conclusions. Nobody has been charged with any offence, still less tried or convicted“, Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun, 2012
Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper has long been hostile to the idea that people suspected of wrongdoing should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, that no-one should be locked up for extended periods without a fair trial and due process, and that even if someone is tried and convicted of a criminal offence, they are still entitled to basic human rights.
When, in 2005, 47 Labour MPs joined opposition ranks to throw out the Blair government’s attempt to award itself the right to detain for 3 months, without charge or trial, anyone it claimed was a “terrorist”, the Sun’s political editor Trevor Kavanagh branded them “traitor MPs” who had “betrayed the British people”.
When, in 2007, Gordon Brown’s government requested the release of five UK residents who had been held for years without charge or trial in Guantanamo Bay, the Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh declared that “The overwhelming odds are that these guys were put inside for good reason — whatever sob stories their human rights lawyers are peddling on their behalf.”
“It’s just about possible the five… are totally innocent… But not very likely”, he suggested.
Yet despite these “overwhelming odds”, four of the five men – Binyam Mohamed, Omar Deghayes, Jamil El Banna and Sameur Abdenour – were subsequently freed after the US government failed to produce any evidence that could convict them of a crime. The fifth, Shaker Aamer, has still not been charged or tried, ten years after he was first detained.
Mohamed, Deghayes and El Banna were subsequently awarded millions of pounds in compensation after a court heard evidence (or as the Sun might describe it, a “sob story”) detailing the UK government’s complicity in their “rendition” and subsequent torture.
This weekend, another five men were arrested on suspicion of a criminal offence. Unlike Binyam Mohamed, Omar Deghayes, Jamil El Banna, Sameur Abdenour and Shaker Aamer, these five men were given prompt access to a lawyer, questioned, and then freed on bail. Unlike Binyam Mohamed, they were not bundled into a plane, flown to Morocco and tortured with a scalpel, forced into stress positions or subjected to deliberate and prolonged sleep deprivation. They were not – as would have been the case for anyone accused of terrorist offences under the 2005 Bill championed by Trevor Kavanagh and the Sun – held without charge for 90 days while the Police scraped around for evidence.
Has British Justice Gone Soft? Given Trevor Kavanagh’s previous comments on human rights and due process, we might have expected him to be outraged that these five criminal suspects have been treated so leniently. But here he is discussing the case in today’s Sun:
“It is important that we do not jump to conclusions. Nobody has been charged with any offence, still less tried or convicted.”
Here he is on Radio 5: “the evidence that’s been suggested to those who have been arrested so far, is pretty flimsy stuff… people are wondering what on earth is happening… I feel very sorry for them and I know it’s causing them and their families a great deal of anguish”.
What could possibly explain this change in tone? Perhaps the fact that *these* five criminal suspects were Sun journalists, suspected of making corrupt payments to police and other public officials.
The problem with attacking basic democratic principles like human rights and due process is that you never know when you – or someone you care about – might be in need of them. Trevor Kavanagh’s Damascine conversion to the cause is surely to be welcomed. His friends at the Sun do, of course, have a right to a fair trial and to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. It will be interesting to see if they will now extend that same courtesy to the rest of us.
“Guess who’s also on the Murdoch payroll? The Scotland Yard cop who headed up the failed investigation”
From the Columbia Journalism Review
Politico astutely pointed out the other day that Fox News now employs four of the leading Republican presidential candidates: Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum.
It’s hardly news that Fox News is more propaganda outlet than news organization. But this ought to be a more troubling development than it seems to have been thus far…
…it’s uncertain how other news organizations can cover the early stages of the presidential race when some of the main GOP contenders are contractually forbidden to appear on any TV network besides Fox.
C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully said that when C-SPAN tried to have Palin on for an interview, he was told he had to first get Fox’s permission — which the network, citing her contract, ultimately denied. Producers at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC all report similar experiences…
Murdoch, at least, is a naturalized American citizen, and who can forget the heart-warming story of why he became one: To get past legal requirements so he could snap up TV stations here.
But I’ve never understood why the UK allows a foreigner like Murdoch to have so much control over its press—he controls some 40 percent of newspaper circulation and has huge influence over television, too…
That News of the World scandal and coverup continues to unravel, and Murdoch’s influence is one of the key stories there. It looks for all the world as if Scotland Yard was so in debt to and/or scared of News Corporation that it wouldn’t investigate the crimes properly—and even helped cover them up.
Guess who’s also on the Murdoch payroll? The Scotland Yard cop who headed up the failed investigation….
The future for Mark Thompson’s muzzled, down-sized BBC?
For an organisation deeply implicated in organised crime, the Murdoch media empire has quite some cheek. But they certainly know how to put a gloss of respectability on the ruthless pursuit of self-interest.
One of the latest lines of attack from Murdoch junior is that the BBC is “dumping free news” on the market, by producing such detailed and comprehensive coverage on its flagship website, BBC online. Murdoch argues that this is unfair competition, because it makes it harder to get people to pay to read the news stories his companies publish. Why bother giving money to Murdoch when you can get the same stories online for free from the BBC?
It’s easy to agree that, despite having vastly more money to spend (roughly £20 billion to the BBC’s £4.6 billion), Murdoch’s News Corporation media group struggles to come close to the quality, breadth and objectivity for which the BBC is renowned. But it’s hard to see how this is an argument for getting rid of the BBC, or making it more difficult for them to provide the public with free, high quality news.
A healthy, well-functioning democracy depends on our being able to make informed choices, and the degree to which this is possible depends, to a great extent, on the quality of the news that we can access. What Murdoch is really saying, it seems to me, is that the BBC is just doing too good a job of keeping the public well-informed, for free, and that as a result his companies are having difficulty keeping up.
While I can understand that Murdoch and his fellow executives might not like this, it’s harder to see how this is our problem, or why it would be in our interests to join the crusade to make it easier for the Times, Sun and News of the World to make money out of us.
The BBC is no more “dumping free news” on the market than the National Health Service is “dumping free healthcare”, or the Police and Army “dumping free security”. The BBC’s existence is no more unfair to the private news media than is the NHS to private health providers, or the Police and Army to private security contractors. Just like the health service, the Police and the Army, the BBC is providing a clear public service with a clear public benefit.
What is less clear is how far the public interest is served by the activities of a private media outfit that dodges its tax liabilities, operates a near-monopoly in large areas of the UK media, engages in criminal activity to get celebrity exclusives (and lies about it afterwards), and has now launched an aggressive political campaign to restrict the public’s access to free information.
In response to Murdoch’s attacks, the 38 Degrees campaign has started an online action to demonstrate public support for the BBC. You can find out more here.