So, she has finally bitten the bullet and resigned. Rebekah Brooks’ long standing career with News International is over. With the way The Guardian and the BBC have been pursuing Brooks and the Murdoch boys one might be forgiven for assuming a personal antagonism exists between them. But not everything is as it seems to those of us outside the bubble.
For despite The Guardian’s incitement to mouth foaming outrage and faux moralising over the interception of phone voicemails, its own conduct in its past dealings with Rebekah Brooks (nee Wade) is worth noting.
Back in January 2003, the then Rebekah Wade returned to become editor at The Sun newspaper after a spell at the News of the World. While at the Screws Wade had demonstrated her tabloid pedigree having been responsible for the campaign to ‘name and shame’ convicted child sex offenders after the murder of Sarah Payne.
But this didn’t stop The Guardian from inviting Wade to sit alongside editor Alan Rusbridger as a judge on the Guardian Student Media Awardsand announcing it on 10th March that year…
On 12th March 2003, just two days after this announcement ran in the Graun, another piece in its media section that reported:
The editor of the Sun yesterday admitted paying police officers for information.
Rebekah Wade, giving evidence to a committee of MPs, also said journalists were entitled to use bugging devices and other covert methods if there was a strong public interest in the story under investigation.
It was the first time that the editor of a tabloid newspaper has publicly admitted using such techniques, and raised questions about journalistic standards at a time when press self-regulation is under close scrutiny.
Now given it was such a major story at that time, and considering the Guardian’s current sensationalist reaction to allegations in the last week that police officers were paid by News International for information – not withstanding that Andy Coulson desperately countered Wade’s assertion – what do you think the Guardian did? That’s right, it did nothing and left Rebekah Wade on the judging panel to preside on the Student Media Awards that were to be announced in November 2003. Fellow judge, Jon Snow of Channel 4 News similarly had no problem remaining on the panel with Ms Wade.
There was plenty of time to replace Wade and find someone with whom the Guardian would be comfortable being associated. But evidently Rusbridger and friends were perfectly happy to continue rubbing shoulders with someone who had just voluntarily admitted illegal activity in front of MPs. Strangely enough there was no in depth investigation by the Guardian to expose ‘the truth’. Fancy that!
In any case, if that incident had not done enough to raise question marks over the suitability of Wade to have her name on the Guardian’s judging panel, Rusbridger and his comrades had another golden opportunity to dispense with La Wade’s services before the showcase awards.
This time it was over the infamous headline in the Sun in September 2003 ‘Bonkers Bruno Locked Up’ in reference to Frank Bruno mental breakdown and institutionalisation. The Sun was forced to edit the headline in its later edition. Strangely enough The Guardian’s write up of the story, and swipe at the Sun and Wade, made no mention of the fact she was judging the Student Media Awards for The Guardian alongside editor Rusbridger. Wade remained on the panel and News International was unmolested.
So given all this a reasonable person would be minded to ask why such behaviour by a newspaper under control of Rebekah Wade (Brooks) in 2003 was perfectly acceptable to The Guardian and its smug, morally superior editor, but in 2011 results in the closure of the News of the World, is cause for demands for Press Complaints Commission investigations, fit and proper person assessments of the Murdochs, false allegations of illegal news gathering activity, Parliamentary inquiries and so on.
Of course, it’s because Murdoch wants to regain full control of Sky and Sky News, and The Guardian recognises its BBC puppet could suddenly find its left-liberal news agenda being challenged by a potentially right-leaning broadcaster. So, as always with the hypocritical Guardian, it is all about vested self interest rather than the public interest.