That’s entertainment?

So, whilst a newer, finer democracy may be fighting its way out of the News International web, what the Ten O’clock News seems to be keen to remind us – sorry, report – is that M Senior (80) is being closely supported by a wife ludicrously higher up the shaggability ladder. Meaning she’s actually on it, being 30-odd. Outrageous, perhaps, but this is pretty much how this particular story might be spun in Ole Rupert’s formerly finest rag, or, to be fair, in half the NOTW’s tabloid competitors. In other words, there’s a lot of cheap crap flying about, even now the story’s gotten beautifully serious.

Beautifully because there is just the tantalising possibility that a more fragrant public life may be waiting for us all. Serious because 1. Somebody died now. 2. Important people are in the mire. 3. It’s increasingly apparent that The Law and The Papers have been bent. Things have snowballed in the way that news often does; but rarely has the quality of the snow been so high.

Murdoch Senior is, however I maintain, a hugely unattractive individual. I find the politics of his empire offensive as well as the bottom-feeding fish set of his jaw. But my guess is that beyond the humiliation of the now, his banner will thrive after this extraordinary period. The UK business, as he suggested today, is relatively insignificant; only if the perception of the shocking practices of the NOTW impacts on US morals and under US law (which seems possible) will Roops be really in the poops. Otherwise the carousel of nonsense and right wing Foxiness will surely swing lustily into the future – possibly beyond the man himself. It seems dangerously imprudent to do much predicting of that future, but is it too much I wonder to hope that the local unravelling of NI and the exposure of appalling standards at The Met, in journoville and yes generally in parliament might lead to uplifting and enervating change in how we construct and receive our world?

For though I’m absolutely with Tony Judt when it comes to judging our pervasively gutless and witless lack of discourse regarding political matters – where are we going? Why is growth good? – I see some potential for important change here. The shackles may be off; there might be more trust around; people might really talk. Parliamentarians – ministers even – may be able to express themselves relatively openly and honestly in the kind of quality debate cherished by Real Humans Who Happened To Be MP’s such as my old mate Bob Marshall-Andrews. It might be entertaining as well as invigorating for democracy. If only.

More likely, sadly, is that whilst a few folks will go to jail, the self-whipping nature of party politics may engulf this opening for radicalism and truths. What a missed opportunity that would be – and what other opportunity is parliament likely to be gifted in the long haul back to public favour? After a near-exhilarating phase of real, engaging news, are the Great Unwashed destined to drift apathetically away again? And just when we thought that the public castration of a media mogul had them right in our sweaty palms…

July 19th 2011.

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