Say what you like about the tabloid press, but they know what people want and by golly, they give it to them. That's what you snobs don't understand.
Remember that argument? You used to hear it a lot back when people would try to convince you the tabloids weren't full of a bunch of lying, baying jackals and crooks who treated their audience with barely disgused contempt. Good times.
It's ironic then, that this unfailing ability to give people what they want is precisely what led them into the criminality that got them where they are now. And doubly ironic that what tabloid readers often want - mawkish grief-porn about young female murder victims and the virtual deification of 'our boys' - is what led the story of phone hacking to finally end up being given the coverage it deserved. Even after the revelation that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked and her answerphone messages deleted, the tabloids avoided giving the story front page treatment. The hacking of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman's families as well as those of dead soldiers is what finally pushed the story past the point where the tabloids could no longer walk away, whilstling. It was only when the story became fitting for a tabloid that the News of the World was killed.
I've sat down to write a post about this at least half a dozen times this week, and each time I do something else happens. It's wrongfooted this old cynic more times than I can count, from Ed Miliband actually saying something about it through it hitting the front pages of other tabloids to Rebekah Brooks announcing the closure of the News of the World rather than her own resignation. I'm not ashamed to say I've viewed this in shock. Happy shock for the most part, like walking into that armoury in The Matrix and being told you're the millionth customer and ending up walking out some super kick arse kung fu monkey who can jump a train on a motorbike while something below you blows up and you shoot ninja stars out your bum, thus saving the world or something, but shock nonetheless. Not that I've done anything, you understand. Just, you know it feels pretty darn good. Even the police corruption angle seems to be getting proper attention, the news is covering how cowed MPs and the government were and even the PCC seems to be getting the well-deserved shaft.
What doesn't feel good is seeing the News of the World suddenly closed down without warning, leaving hundreds of people out of work. I don't look at the News of the World often here because it seems to be given less to lying about facts and figures than, well, you know what it's given to now I guess. I read 'Fake Sheiks and Royal Trappings' earlier this year and was disgusted at the paper, hoping something would happen. But like my blogging colleague and bloke I'd quite like to meet, Steven Baxter, I've always just wanted the tabloids to be better. Shutting the paper seems to me a cynical move, designed to protect Rebekah Brooks for some reason and perhaps something that was even going to happen in some way or another anyway. It was announced that the Sun was going to become a seven day operation a while ago, and thesunonsunday domain name was registered days ago. Something tells me that the Murdoch who shat all over the unions in the 80s and chucked hundreds of workers on the street was rubbing his hands with glee at this opportunity.
The word on the street is, though - if you can imagine me as Huggy Bear with my afro and massive flat cap and flares and sunglasses indoors for a minute - the word on the street is that Brooks has said something is coming that the paper could never survive. Can you imagine what the fuck that is? My guess is that it has something to do with the surveillance of Dave Cook and the murder case he was covering, but so much crazy stuff is going down that I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out they'd commissioned a midget hitman to hide in the backpack of a French paparazzo on a moped and shoot a blow dart into the neck of Princess Di's driver so they could make money out of the aftermath. Actually, that's not outlandish enough. Stuff involving monkeys and lasers and the biggest diamond in the world wouldn't surprise me now.
There are dangers in all this elation. Posts like this always have to end with stern warnings about the danger in missing things to show how clever the writer is, but there are dangers. One is that David Cameron's announcements are worth as much as Blair's nonsense about marching hoodies to cashpoints, the PCC won't be reformed and the inquiries he talks about end up being ridiculous whitewashes. Another is that Brooks and James Murdoch get away scot free. Yet another is that we lose the chance to reform self-regulation and end up with an organisation still happy to say, 'yeah, it ws a lie but no-one would have believed it anyway'. Yet another is that we forget Glenn Mulcaire was only one of many private detectives involved with more newspapers than just the News of the World, and never find out exactly what other papers were doing. The last is that we eviscerate Murdoch's empire and someone worse rises to take his place. Imagine Richard Desmond with as much clout as Murdoch.
Anyway, that's enough worrying about the dangers. I'm going to crack a beer and carry on yelping with glee at every development. Fuck it, I'm downing two at once when Rebekah Brooks finally goes. Even if I'm at work. And just bloody look at this!