Dial M for Murdoch uncovers the inner workings of one of the most powerful companies in the world: how it came to exert a poisonous, secretive influence on public life in Britain, how it used its huge power to bully, intimidate and cover up, and how its exposure has changed the way we look at our politicians, our police service and our press.
Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers had been hacking phones and casually destroying people’s lives for years, but it was only after a trivial report about Prince William’s knee in 2005 that detectives stumbled on a criminal conspiracy. A five-year cover-up then concealed and muddied the truth. Dial M for Murdoch gives the first connected account of the extraordinary lengths to which the Murdochs’ News Corporation went to “put the problem in a box” (in James Murdoch’s words), how its efforts to maintain and extend its power were aided by its political and police friends, and how it was finally exposed.
The book details the smears and threats against politicians, journalists and lawyers. It reveals the existence of brave insiders who pointed those pursuing the investigation towards pieces of secret information that cracked open the case.
By contrast, many of the main players in the book are unsavory, but by the end of it you have a clear idea of what they did. Seeing the story whole, as it is presented here for the first time, allows the character of the organisation which it portrays to emerge unmistakably. You will hardly believe it.
About Tom Watson and Martin Hickman
TOM WATSON is the MP for West Bromwich East. He campaigns against unlawful media practices and led the questioning of Rupert and James Murdoch when they appeared before Parliament in July 2011. He is the deputy chair of the Labour Party.
MARTIN HICKMAN has worked for the Independent since 2001, and has driven the paper’s coverage of the phone hacking scandal. He was named Journalist of the Year by the Foreign Press Association in 2009.
Revelations that Murdoch employees hijacked the private voice mails of thousands of people (including a missing girl who was later discovered murdered), not only sparked the closure of the 168-year-old News of the World tabloid in 2011, it also gave the House of Parliament and U.K. police undeniable black eyes. Member of Parliament Watson andIndependent correspondent Hickman delve deeply into the sordid mess, a tabloid hell in which the only imperatives were to sell more newspapers, cultivate power and destroy enemies. The authors detail the depths of the illegal phone-hacking scandal as well as the payoffs, coverups and intimidation that followed. The authors also show the bulk of Britain’s famed Fleet Street press and much of the Metropolitan Police force casting a blind eye to the “dark arts” practiced by Murdoch’s henchmen (and henchwomen). Members of Parliament, meanwhile, and even the occupants of Number 10 Downing Street, routinely kowtowed to the Aussie power broker’s will. Readers will be continually taken aback by the level of hubris involved in the whole affair. For example, Prime Minister David Cameron blithely appointed News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications director just four months after Murdoch’s man quit the newspaper in disgrace. Coulson was eventually busted on conspiracy charges in 2011 in connection to the phone-hacking scandal and payoffs to police. Other Murdoch confidants, like former News International CEORebekah Brooks, would follow Coulson down. The story, however, only started to gain traction after the New York Times covered the scandal. Interestingly, it might now be left to Watson and Hickman’s book to spark new investigations into Murdoch’s activities on this side of the Atlantic. – Kirkus Reviews
DIAL M FOR MURDOCH News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain By Tom Watson and Martin Hickman
The Washington Post Book Review – July 7, 2012 (Excerpt)
When the Guardian first reported on the phone-hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in July 2009, the reaction of many British journalists was “So what?” British tabloid reporters, some of them anyway, take the view that anything goes in getting a story, and they laugh in the pub afterward about what are euphemistically described as “tricks of the trade.”
One of the journalists dismissive of the scandal, even long after some quite ugly details had emerged, was Roger Alton, a combative, popular writer and executive editor at Murdoch’s Times. Alton, whose career included a long spell at the Guardian, is quoted in Tom Watson and Martin Hickman’s “Dial M for Murdoch” as saying that he was as interested in the scandal as he would be about someone parking in an unauthorized parking space.
I do not know what Alton thinks now, but I do know that there are a lot fewer British journalists who will respond these days with a “So what?” The scandal is the biggest to hit Britain since the Profumo affair in the 1960s that rocked the establishment with its combination of a country mansion, a prostitute, a government minister and an alleged Russian agent.
Almost all the events described in “Dial M for Murdoch” have been well-documented in daily news coverage in Britain. The book’s value is in pulling them together into a single narrative. The impact is powerful: We come away with a clear picture o the sordid relationship that existed between the Murdoch press, the police and senior politicians. [Read the full article...]
THE LONDONDERRY AIR
Testament of an Ulster Gunman A Novel by Garrad Gawler
It all changed for Charles Cunningham, a Physics teacher at the local College of Technology in the County Derry town of Maddenstown, on a June afternoon in 1973 when a bomb exploded in his neighborhood. He answers an advertisement by the UDR, the Ulster Defence Regiment, but, in the time to come, he will experience the consequences of his decisions, and how his involvement complicates matters with family and friends, Protestants and Catholics alike, to an unexpected degree.
With “The Londonderry Air – Testament of an Ulster Gunman” Garrad Gawler describes in minute detail and with an astonishing level of authenticity not only the inner workings of the Ulster Defence Regiment, but also the activities of underground paramilitary groups of regular citizens who planned and carried out the assassination of suspected Republican terrorists in their neighborhood.
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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