One of the smaller things that has a potential to become really big is the possibility that other publications and news organisations could end up being pulled into the affray. Gordon Brown revealed the Sunday Times and the Sun's involvement in using less than kosher means to get at private information, and it's been widely agreed that the inquiries announces this week must look at media practices in general.
There are loud rumblings about the Information Commissioner's report in 2006 'What Price Privacy Now?' (pdf) that looked at the records of another Private Investigator. Steve Whittamore, unlike Glenn Mulcaire, had worked for a number of newspapers, and his biggest customer was not the News of the World, but the Daily Mail.
Which might just explain today's desperate and laughable editorial in the Mail. 'Never mind phone hacking, what about the real issues facing Britain?' it says. Because the corruption of our police and politicians and their collusion facilitating widespread lawbreaking is not a real issue.
It hilariously opens, 'In the real world...' like every blowhard who ever wants to claim the high ground, ever. Then we get a list of stuff that desperately tries to distract us before telling the hacking scandal isn't anything to worry about. It's apparently been 'orchestrated by a vastly subsidised BBC' despite actually - in the real word, you might say - being led by the Guardian, who actually did some real journalism.
Milly Dowler, dead servicemen and the families of Soham murder victims, 7/7 victims, 9/11 victims and Jean Charles de Menezes aren't mentioned. Neither is the potential of an FBI investigation. Police corruption isn't mentioned either, and that one's a little bit important. People, very high profile people, could end up in prison here. But our elected representatives, some of whom could be implicated in this (including the Prime Minister), should move on and focus on other things because the BBC and chattering classes and gold plated pensions and definitely not because of that Information Commissioner's report. Okay? Perish the thought.
Even Richard Littlejohn can't seem to be completely able to stomach churning out the paper's line on the phone hacking scandal. His article 'Hacking? They can all go to hell in a handcart!' opens:
Since the start of the phone hacking scandal I’ve tried to stand back from the hysteria. But on days like this, I give up.It seems even Smellyface can't keep it up. Sure he says, 'I was going to point out...' and then reproduce the stuff he might have written about in the full throated defence he mentioned in the opening, but that's just because he's lazy.
Last night, I was halfway through a full-throated defence of the police, when I received a phone call informing me that in 2009 Scotland Yard hired Neil ‘Wolfman’ Wallis as a strategic public relations adviser.
He ends up saying (just after saying words to the effect of 'I should have been monstering Chris Bryant for being gay, but it's overshadowed now,') 'I am left with the conclusion that the entire political class, police and all, are rotten to the core.' And then announce he's off on holiday.
Pity he doesn't mention the press in that list, since they're the people in the centre of making the political class rotten to the core, but still. Could it be that this issue is the one that made him grow a pair and go against his paper's official line? Can even Littlejohn see the ridiculousness of trying to minimise this? Does this have anything to do with him having to go on holiday?
If even Littlejohn can see how stupid it is to try to pretend the potential corruption of police and government is nothing, then US parody news network Fox News** should see that too. But of course, to Fox it's nothing for some reason. Here's a clip of a pundit saying widespread corruption and lawbreaking on behalf of the company that owns the channel is nothing to be worried about and move along please:
Quite funny, huh, how people who might get in trouble if this particular scandal is allowed to rumble on getting bags of attention end up telling us to move along, nothing to see here?
And on that note, how about, uh, the police? A couple of years ago, senior police officers including the most senior of all, Met Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson, met Alan Rusbridger to tell him the Guardian investigation was way off the mark and too vigorous. At the time, one of his advisors was Neil 'Wolfman' Wallis, the guy who'd been deputy editor at the News of the World at the time the hacking was apparently going on. Wonder if Stephenson had been advised by him to tell the Guardian to back off. Gee, d'you think?
All this is hugely exciting, and has the potential to get to the bottom of something that's been rotten about this country's politics for years. But let's not forget that some of the people in Parliament who are charged with getting to the bottom of it are people who might stand to lose a heck of a lot if they succeed.
Like the Mail, Fox and the police before them, people like David Cameron might end up getting in deep, deep water if we ever get completely to the bottom of how the press has corrupted the government in this country. Don't be surprised if once the fury dies down a little, we see them suddenly wondering openly what the fuss is about and distracting us with things happening elsewhere.
That's exactly what they were doing before the Guardian uncovered that Milly Dowler's phone was hacked.
There's a reason for that.
*Except Andy Hayman. I'm told he's been inundated with offers from several pantomimes for his 'I can't believe you just asked me that' performance.
*UPDATE* Here's the video of that:
Oh no it isn't!
**I know it's not a parody. Bloody hell, do you think I'm stupid? Don't answer that.