08/07/2011

NoW and British conservatism

William Davies in Hack-gate: the latest cultural contradiction of British conservatism? has an interesting take on the News of the World debacle, linking it to the 'unwieldy and self-destructive' character of British conservatism.
The inconsistency and incoherence of the rightwing tabloid press have always been part of its popular appeal and political strength, thereby harnessing the cultural contradictions of conservatism to its own advantage. It has represented the interests of big business and ‘white van man’ with equal gusto; it has portrayed society as decadent and lawless on one page, whilst celebrating hedonistic consumption on the next. It has demanded that the state look after the old and infirm in one editorial, then raged against the ‘nanny state’ in the next. Its exuberance lies in its irresponsibility. The tabloid media might almost have shared the motto of the French social theorist, Michel Foucault when he wrote “do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order” – except that our bureaucrats and our police are now rapidly discovering that their papers are anything but in order.
While the rest of the conservative establishment was tearing itself apart in Thatcher and Reagan’s wake, the tabloid press was benefiting and growing in influence. When Conservative politicians were caught in sex scandals during the 1990s, the tabloids harnessed outrage to sell papers. When investment banks nearly collapsed the global economy in 2008, under the guise of market ‘efficiency’, the tabloids harnessed outrage to sell papers. Whether a teenager had committed murder or been murdered, The Sun and its cohort scarcely cared, so long as it was outrageous. The establishment could be represented as both institutionally racist (the Stephen Lawrence case) and institutionally liberal (the ‘flood’ of immigration), without any concern for consistency.
Free from the constraints of consistency or responsibility, the conservative media has been the great survivor of the ‘new right’ coalition that emerged in the 1970s, and fragmented in the 1990s. One question that hack-gate poses is how much longer it can retain this status.
All here.

And from the Guardian:
Police are investigating evidence that a News International executive may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard's inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal.
The archive is believed to have reached back to January 2005 revealing daily contact between News of the World editors, reporters and outsiders, including private investigators. The messages are potentially highly valuable both for the police and for the numerous public figures who are suing News International.
Now who would have thought that anyone would could behave in such a way in the days when one 'rogue reporter' and one 'rogue investigator' were held to be the extent of the problem?

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