We mustn’t let Murdoch’s cronies change the subject | Archie Bland | Independent Eagle Eye – Breaking views from Independent commentators – Blogs
I have no agenda for Nick Davies or Amelia Hill, but the argument about the accuracy of their story of 5th July would only be relevant to the discussion as it stands now if the totality of the allegations against the News of the World were contained in that claim about the deletion of voicemails. The truth is, even at the time, the deletion was a secondary, slightly technical detail that embellished the shocking key fact of the hacking itself; if you don’t believe me, consult the headlines at the time, which almost universally focus on the hacking, rather than the deletion, which became a far stronger point of focus after the Dowler family’s testimony to Leveson. Already back in July, there was a litany of damning evidence against News International – one of the most shocking things about all of this is that it took something so grotesque as the Dowler allegation to bring the wider scrutiny that had previously been almost totally lacking (as I wrote for Columbia Journalism Review back in March), with this newspaper standing alongside the Guardian as an honourable exception to the trend. Far more evidence has emerged since. It has only drawn less attention than the Dowler claim because the depths had already been plumbed.
As for the claim that the NOTW couldn’t function any more: only one person made the decision to shut that paper, Rupert Murdoch. When the decision was announced, it was obvious that it was a reaction to a sense that the body of evidence against the paper was simply too enormous to contend with. (“In a year you will understand why we made this decision,” Rebekah Brooks is supposed to have said at the time.) And it was a complete surprise, a move that took many observers aback even as it confirmed Mr Murdoch’s unerring ruthlessness in a crisis. The version of the narrative in which it was inevitable has only taken hold after the fact.
There is, perhaps, a conversation to be had about the reporting on that particular Guardian story. But it is a short conversation, and its implications are not extensive. Above all, it has nothing at all to do with the case that News International and its senior executives must still answer. To claim anything else – to attempt to cast this whole sordid affair as a simple he-said-she-said fight between one newspaper and another – is a joke. And it is not a very good one.