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Pots, kettles

Given the prominent – and arguably, admirable – role that the Guardian newspaper has played in exposing some of the naughty, even allegedly criminal behaviours of certain Murdoch journalists in recent years, it is perhaps worth noting that the Guardian itself was not above obtaining sources of information that were obtained by breaking a few laws. Consider this article in Vanity Fair about the awkward, but also perhaps beneficial, relationship that developed between the Guardian and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

Remember, as the Samizdata comment thread regular “Llamas” pointed out the other day, that the sort of people who are condemning Murdoch journalists, and rightly so, are the sort who thought what a great thing it was that so much confidential information had been splashed all over the media due to WikiLeaks and its media users.

There are some double standards going on around here. And let’s not forget that governments, including such supposedly law abiding ones such as Germany, are not above using taxpayers’ money to obtain stolen information about private individuals’ bank accounts; or that governments have, allegedly, used harsh interrogation techniques (ie, torture) to obtain information, or snooped on private communications without a judge’s warrant, etc, etc. Now, such governments may argue, perhaps rightly, that they are acting in the public interest, and that News of the World hacks chasing after celebrity tittle-tattle are not. But who gets to decide here?

And here’s another thing: with police officers in the UK being accused of flogging valuable information on persons to journalists, it surely reminds us how dangerous it is to have created the Database State. By aggregating vast amounts of data in the way they do, the governments of Britain and other countries create an enormous temptation for bent public officials to sell that data. It’s going to happen, human nature being what it is. This is an angle that I hope pressure groups such as No2ID take up in the months ahead. We cannot trust governments, including liberal democratic ones, with our private information. That is a meme that deserves to gain traction from the Murdoch scandal, however it eventually plays out.

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7 comments to Pots, kettles

  • Vinegar Joe

    “Four legs good, two legs bad!”

  • RAB

    arguably, admirable – role that the Guardian newspaper has played…

    I’d say it was very arguable myself JP. The hacking of phones has been known about for years. Nobody gave a piss about it as long as it was confined to Celebs and politicians, but as soon as it was known that “ordinary” people were being hacked, the Guardian managed to whip it up into an hysteria of almost Death of Diana proportions.

    The Guardian kept going with this with one malicious idea in mind, and one only… Smash Murdoch and News International. They may sanctimoniously posture that they care that the Police are corrupt (they have been since Robert Peel was a lad) or they want to “Clean up” the media, but it’s a lie. Their sole purpose was to take down any supposed right wing opposition to their, and their symbiotic broadcasting arm, the BBC, which has 10 times the power, reach and influence that News International has now, or ever will have, left wing agenda.

    The Guardian was perfectly comfortable with publishing the Wikileaks revelations, even though they had the potential to get people killed, rather than just getting people a bit pissed off about invasion of privacy.

    They went out an bought the Palin emails, not with the intention of revealing something in the public interest, but to smash her too, a woman who is neither in Office or currently running for one. 27,000 pages of emails later and all they have got is egg on their faces. They turned up nothing, but it wasn’t for the want of trying was it?

    So no, the Guardian are the sort of shits that some in News International are.. they just use different methods.

  • Sam Duncan

    Well said, RAB.

    I thought the last Inquisitor of the Murdochs this afternoon (I forget her name, but the one who was interrupted by the nut with the pie) made a good point: it’s likely that the NOTW staff didn’t consider their behaviour worth reporting “upstream” to News Group and News Corp. (assuming they didn’t) because it simply wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for the British press. James Murdoch disagreed, I imagine because it might imply that he, too, knew that it was “normal”. But it needn’t, necessarily, and does ring true.

  • Kevin B

    I hope that when I’m eighty, my new young wife packs as good a right hook as Wendi Murdoch displayed when she tackled cowardly Jonnie Marbles of UKUNCUT when some jerk threatens her old man.

    Interestingly, I heard the UKUCNUT’s name, together with his sick tweet, on Talk Sport in the car, but when I got home and checked the beeb website, he was namless and not apparantly associated with any organisation. Tim Blair in Australia has more info on his blog than our national broadcaster.

    (Notice how I refrained from mentioniong the jerk’s organisation again in case my dylexia got the better of me.)

  • Now, such governments may argue, perhaps rightly, that they are acting in the public interest, and that News of the World hacks chasing after celebrity tittle-tattle are not. But who gets to decide here?

    I’m going to guess


    . Do I win five pounds ???

  • Sorry, gover *n* ments.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Governments are at least theoretically answerable to the people. Private actors are answerable to nobody.

    Anyone in government was put there either by the people, or indirectly by those chosen by the people.

    Private actors choose themselves.

    Thus the people allow government powers that are denied to private actors.