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Thursday, September 03, 2015 

As a dog returns to its vomit.

The reappointment of Rebekah Brooks as chief executive of News UK is first and foremost an act of the utmost hubris on the part of Rupert Murdoch.  Only he could possibly think someone so indelibly tainted by the phone hacking scandal, regardless of her acquittal at the Old Bailey, could possibly make for a suitable leader of the company in part created in an attempt to move on from all that unpleasantness.  It is at the same time however a move he could have only made due to events going in his favour.  Were we now being led by prime minister Miliband, it's difficult to believe he would have felt able to do so.  That the Sun campaigned slightly less hysterically than the rest of the right-wing media for a Conservative victory will have been noted by Downing Street, although not to the point where Cameron or anyone else could so much as think of saying anything remotely critical about Brooks' second coming.

Of far more significance is what it tells us about Murdoch's previously decent relationship with his journalists themselves.  At the height of the scandal Murdoch made public his first priority was "this one".  That Brooks had worked hand in glove with hacker-in-chief Coulson, and her response until almost the bitter end was it was all a load of nonsense overblown by the BBC and Guardian was of not the slightest concern.  Brooks' response to the first reports of Gordon Taylor's settlement with the News of the World was to attack the Guardian, rather than quickly realise this was a problem that wasn't going to go away.  She continued the cover-up, a decision that has cost Murdoch in excess of £300m, and almost certainly the ultimate goal of taking full control of Sky, with the incalculable amounts that would have brought it, not to forget the accompanying all but complete stranglehold over the British media.  Brooks herself got in the region of £16m in settlement, only to walk back into the job once a suitable period of time had passed.

How very different to the hacks and sources grassed up to the police by News Corp's Management Standards Committee, in an attempt by the company to further distract attention away from the bosses.  This week saw Graham Dudman, previously managing editor of the Sun decide to leave the paper rather than return after his own acquittal on charges of conspiring to cause misconduct in public office.  Dudman was the paper's spokesman throughout Brooks' reign at the Sun, as Becca herself had already made clear how hopeless she was under any sort of scrutiny, letting slip to parliament's media committee that the paper had "paid police officers in the past", the exact same thing some of her charges were subsequently tried on.  However much Dudman and picture editor John Edwards are receiving in pay-offs, it's doubtful to amount to even a smidgen of the lucre handed over to Rupert's surrogate daughter.  How the other hacks that have returned to the Sun feel about Brooks lording it over them once again, especially when their initial reaction to the closure of the News of the World was one of suspicion it was an attempt to save both Brooks and Murdoch junior, something rather proved by subsequent events, is anyone's guess.

Nor does it apparently matter to Murdoch that Brooks can hardly play the part he supposedly wants his UK papers to continue to.  No one in politics is going to want to be seen anywhere near her, nor will many in the wider media world, let alone celebrities themselves.  Her one and only quality, that she was an excellent networker and set people at their ease, has long since departed.  It's almost enough to make you wonder if, secretly, Murdoch has realised that his days of ruling the roost, at least as far as newspapers go, are gone.  Appointing Brooks could be one of his final slights to an establishment he has always believed has been against him, even if she's only there to manage the decline.  If that is her remit, he could hardly have chosen better.

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