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Tuesday, June 23, 2009 

Scum-watch: So, farewell then, Rebekah Wade...

Good riddance then to Rebekah Wade (or, according to the Graun, Rebekah Brooks, as she is now apparently calling herself since her recent wedding), who will be moving "upstairs" in News International in a long mooted move and one that she herself has long been lobbying for.

This isn't the place as yet for a long consideration of her time as editor of the biggest selling newspaper in the country, but it remains the case that for the most part Wade proved to be a less controversial editor than her time at the News of the World suggested she would be. The main bungles which did happen during her watch, which included her "BONKERS BRUNO LOCKED UP" front page splash, to say nothing of the time she was arrested after drunkenly slapping her former husband are not much to write home about when you consider the Sun's history, especially while Kelvin MacKenzie was editor.

That's not to say that Wade was a non-entity as editor, far from it. She kept up her campaign for "Sarah's law", legislation which children's charities themselves oppose as either unproved or potentially putting them further at risk as paedophiles head even further underground. Other campaigns have included almost yearly rages against the Human Rights Act, which it has repeatedly lied about and slandered, repeated demands that the detention limit for "terrorist suspects" be extended, whether to 90 or 42 days, with the paper the first time round denouncing those who voted against as "traitors", constant moaning that sentences are not long enough and that more prison places are essential, even when Labour has vastly lengthened and expanded both, and more recently, hysterical scaremongering, both about knife crime and Britain being "broken", as well as a horrendous campaign "for" Baby P, which resulted in two of those involved in his case considering suicide. That isn't to mention other quite wonderful journalistic successes, such as the claim back in January that "radical Muslims" were targeting Jews such as Alan Sugar, which led to legal action being taken, or last year's "IVF twins were dumped because they're girls", which was untrue on almost every count.

All this said, the Sun has certainly become to an extent more liberal during Wade's tenure. Whether this is down to her or because in general society is becoming more tolerant is unclear, but the paper which not so long back was leading campaigns against the possibility of Julian Clary becoming host of the Generation Game because of his sexuality, or which asked on its front page whether the country was being run by a "gay mafia" has moved on. During the Big Brother racism scandal it ran a front page, which although somewhat hypocritical, was the sort of thing it would have never done only a few years ago. It still loathes asylum seekers, failed or otherwise, but that's hardly unique in the tabloid world. Both the Daily Mail and Express are far more reactionary than the Sun on almost all of these matters.

The Sun still matters most though because of its sale and its influence. While the Mail may be catching up, or even caught up, the Sun is still courted by politicians looking for the nod of approval from Rupert Murdoch. He is, after all, the real power behind the throne, and any editor of any of his papers is only following the rules put down by him. His recent comments about David Cameron, that he has to be a second Thatcher if he's to gain his full approval, showed just how politicians have to portray and present themselves to get support. It should be remembered that this is a man who has no vote in this country, who has in the past made it his task to pay as little tax in this country as possible, and who is fundamentally unaccountable to anyone other than himself. Whoever becomes the next editor of the paper, and no one seems to have any idea who it's likely to be, the real power will not lie with he or she.

Update: Stan points out the in comments that I forgot about the Alfie Patten non-story, which also should go down as one of her worst moments.

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You don't give any credence to the view that, given that Cameron's (going/highly likely) to win next year and the Sun is famed for calling elections correctly, they need a Tory-supporting editor & Ronnie doesn't have the credibility to do an about-turn (but can be a manager who Allows Her Editors The Freedom To Do Whatever They Like Politically), then?

you forgot the Alfie shite

Stan: quite right, I did.

john: I think they've pretty much already made the moves towards supporting Cameron, see here and here. Wade could easily do an about face, as she's been courted assiduously by Blair, Brown and Cameron regardless without anyone apparently getting upset by it. Private Eye suggested she was going to stay until the election, but obviously Murdoch's moving her earlier.

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