Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation And The Corruption Of Britain Hardcover – May 22 2012
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"Dial M for Murdoch is a must read for anyone interested in Rupert Murdoch... lively, fast-paced, a tight narrative."
- The Guardian
“This book will tell those already obsessed with the saga a few new things, but for the casual reader it's a rip-roaring tour through recent British political and journalistic history, and how Rupert Murdoch has frequently sought to influence it.”
- Huffington Post
“Dial M for Murdoch is a compelling tale of Murdoch empire’s scandals….[A] gripping and indispensible first account of the phone-hacking scandal that shut down the world’s biggest selling tabloid, News of the World, and the allegations of computer hacking, police bribery, and corporate cover-up that continue to hound News Corp…..[R]eads something like a cross between The Insider and All the President’s Men…[A] virtual revolution for a whole political and media class who had formerly lived in fear.”
- Peter Jukes, The Daily Beast
"An engrossing and useful read."
- British GQ
“True to its nod to the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, the book is a suspenseful tale of the ongoing phone hacking scandal in Britain from one of its key players…. Dial M For Murdoch has the urgency of a police blotter and is useful, both for those tracking the story daily or for readers interested in learning more.” –Reuters
“Provides a sense of how intrusive and unnerving Elveden’s in-house investigation must now be.” –Steve Coll, NewYorker.com
“Required reading for news junkies and those interested in understanding Murdoch's seemingly ironclad grip on the news.” –Kirkus Reviews
“A timely, informative, infuriating insider account of the News International phone-hacking scandal… Very powerfully written… Here, at last, is the scorecard you’ve been looking for.” –BoingBoing.com --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Whilst the somewhat breathless style may irritate some readers, it is the content here which is absolute dynamite. As this book is so crammed with factual information it is fair to say that it is unlikely to be 100% accurate in all respects. However, it is clear that it is largely on the money as the content reflects so badly on the integrity of NI that if this were not the case the authors and publishers would now be knee deep in writs. It is clear that Wapping, and possibly other areas of the media, employed the dark arts to a large extent to obtain newsworthy stories and almost made an art form of them. These went much further than just the phone hacking issue. Computer hacking, bribery of the police, illegal access to Government databases such as the DVLC and Inland Revenue and even blackmail were the stock in trade of journalists.
The police started an investigation into phone hacking in 2002, and this resulted in the prosecution and jailing of Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who carried out numerous dubious investigations on behalf of the News of the World and others, and Clive Goodman, a News of the World reporter, who was paid off by NI after his release from prison. It was NI's position for a number of years that this was all down to this one rogue reporter.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The latest instalment being the arrest of Ms Rebekah Brooks, on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, as part of the investigation into phone hacking. Back 2010, the' Dial M book' claims that the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee decided not to push Rebekah Brooks to give evidence in early 2010 because they feared her retribution in the words of the former MP Adam Price, "if we went for her, they would go for us - effectively they would delve into our private lives in order to punish us."
As for the allegations of cosy relations between News Corporation and the police are concerned, a serving police officer was arrested in Jan 2012, a former royal protection and counter terrorism police officer was arrested in May 2012 and thus far Detectives from Operation Elveden have now arrested 27 people over allegations that journalists made illegal payments to public officials and police officers. As for political figures, well the books interesting reading on that topic as well.
The authors Dial M argue convincingly Rupert Murdoch shadow, if not his mode of business twisted the conditions in which hacking was expected to take place, not as an anomaly, but as part of a mode of doing business the success at all costs dictate which bent and ultimately break the rules. Murdoch seems to lurk behind each page in book of this book, he is rarely in the narrative physically, unless in the less congenial surroundings of the Leveson inquiry, as seen recently. The authors theorise, as the Sun newspaper was closed, after the revelations there, that News International may be sacrificed in order to protect News Corp group, and thus insulate the heart of its corporate dynasty - Rupert Murdoch?
While there are detractors of the authors work in Dial M, I give one example from Ms J L Dico review in the Independent (UK). Ms Dico's assessment sited two areas of concern, the first being while the story is very topical and the media have `teased out' every minutia of detail - in essence was their, the authors, account of the time line of events really necessary and hence was there a need for Dial M book, as the narrative was already out `there' via various media outlets. From my perspective I would say yes there was.
The other critique was the concern that Tom Watson was too close to the subject, as he involved in some of the events and his narrative smacks of self-interest as part author of Dial M. On this point I am still to make up my mind.
The authors, Watson and Hickman, interlace the events of the past decade into a driven narrative that includes not only phone hacking but email interception, surveillance, burglary, cover-ups and political influence. For those who have lost track of what happened, or why it matters, this is a must read book.
Britain has no right to privacy underwritten by the law, but not quite anything goes. In particular hacking into private phone messages or emails is illegal, and it slowly became apparent that Murdoch's News of the World was doing exactly that. The exposure started in a strange way, with a trivial piece of news that Prince William had strained a tendon in his knee while kicking a ball around: big deal indeed, until someone thought to ask where the story had come from. Gradually other, more newsworthy, cases of hacking came to light. The British public would still not have had a fit of moral outrage if these stories had all been about which footballer was having it off with whom. When the victims of the intrusion were the families of murdered children, then some basic sense of decency kicked in.
That is to say, it kicked in among the general public, not in the News International office. To start off with, they denied all. Then it was allegedly a single rogue reporter. Then it was a few rogue reporters. Gradually, the walls of the fortress fell down, weakened by the implausibility of the defenders' stories and the persistence of the attacks. There was a culture of abuse and illegality, and I wonder how many people without a personal interest in the matter could ever have believed it was anything other than that. An excellent summary of the situation is quoted from the eminent journalist Andrew Neil, once Murdoch's very own satrap as editor of the Sunday Times:
`You create a climate in which people think it's all right to do certain things. And I would argue that Rupert Murdoch with his take-no-prisoners attitude to journalism - the end will justify the means, do whatever it takes - created the kind of newsroom climate in which hacking and other things were done with impunity on a large scale.'
Another instructive comment came from one of the victims of the scandal, the comedy actor Steve Coogan:
`Strangely, I don't think it was a malicious personal vendetta against me. My feeling is that it was a dispassionate sociopathic act by those who operate in an amoral universe where they are never accountable.'
Malicious personal vendettas were reserved for those perceived as `anti', such as the softly-spoken Tom Watson MP, and the report from behind the ramparts that it had become personal with the News of the World's hyperbolic editor Rebekah Wade is very easy to believe. He stuck to his own guns, gaining at least one valuable and equally determined ally as he went along, and he obviously enjoyed asking James Murdoch at a Parliamentary Committee hearing whether he (JM) was the only mafia boss in history who did not know he was running a mafia. It can't have been easy for him at other times, e.g. when he found that not just the police but organised crime were involved with the newshounds, and one informant was murdered in what looked like a contract job. Watson feared for his life, and in his place I would have feared for mine. It would have been dumb not to.
As for the police, the book's final summary says quite accurately that their reputation for honesty and competence will take a while to recover. I thought back 30 or 40 years to the time when one eminent judge ruled that the British public would surely not have wished for certain matters shedding a dubious light on the administration of the law to be subjected to legal appeal, on the grounds that that would shake public confidence in the institutions concerned. So there has really been progress - that sort of condescending insolence would arouse public outrage these days. What makes this saga so important, I'd say, is not just in nailing some miscreants, but in shaking au fond a whole culture embracing several institutions we would prefer to think of as pillars of society.
The book is very up to date as I type these remarks on 29 May 2012. The Moving Finger has not stopped writing yet, but we are a long way down the text. The book ends on a note of understandable caution--Rupert Murdoch is still in charge of his empire. Well, I don't want regime change, I want culture change here in British journalism, which actually owes a lot to him. The old boy is over 80 and I wish him many years yet, but it's time he and some others learned a lesson. Now other parties have to do whatever it takes to clean up the collective act.
It is a MUST READ. You will not believe how horrible politics and media can be.
Dial M for Murdoch begins with published UK tabloid reports about Prince William's injured knee. News that wasn't public, when investigated it was found to have come from hacking of the Royals phones. No big deal said Murdoch's company, News International (NI), a.k.a. Wapping--for the offices where it is located. Just a "rogue reporter. That is until the cancer within British journalism exploded with the news that thousands of everyday people had been hacked by unknown dozens of NI employees. Shining a light on the dry rot of the power of Rupert Murdoch's 40% media share in the UK and to think--he wanted more of a share and almost got it thanks to his power with Her Majesty's government.
Non-fiction that reads like a John Grisham or Frederick Forsyth crime thriller, the co-author MP Tom Watson had a front row seat to the story as he became involved in investigating this. "For the first time Watson glimpsed the real picture of wrongdoing at Wapping, but the more he learned the more he realized that it involved the criminal underworld and some very dangerous characters." (p. 177)
When published in early 2012, a reported 200 police were reported as investigating phone hacking, computer hacking, conspiracy and the perversion of justice. In Parliamentary hearings, Watson asked Rupert Murdoch pointblank, "Mr. Murdoch, you must be the first mafia boss in history who didn't know he was running a criminal enterprise." (p. 287) Any wonder given News International ordered surveillance of not only celebrities and Royals, but murdered and missing children's families, rape victims, and both members of investigating watchdog committees like Mr. Watson's and lawyers suing News International.
As the former editor of the Sunday Times Andrew Neil was to have said in a February 16, 2012 interview on CNN of Murdoch's modus operandi: "You create a climate in which people think it's alright to do certain things. And I would argue that Rupert Murdoch with his take-no-prisoners attitude to journalism--the end will justify the means, do whatever it takes--created the kind of newsroom climate in which hacking and other things were done with impunity on an industrial scale." (p. 315)
So what happens when one single corporation becomes so embedded with the government? Read Dial M for Murdoch for a fair and balanced first draft of the history of corporate malfeasance to understand why media matters. What is Rupert Murdoch and News Corp's exposure given the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, with the reported thousands of pounds in bribes paid to UK officials?
According to former Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown: "It was not the misconduct of a few rogues or a few freelancers, but lawbreaking often on an industrial scale, at its worst dependent on links with British criminal underworld." (p. 223)
One day Harvard Business Studies will include the rot and hubris of the Murdoch empire, Fox News (giggle) and other tabloids around the world. This book, written by a UK Member of Parliament and Journalist, who had the temerity to say--NO to the hacking, bribing and other illegal actions--is a FIRST draft of history. When trials start in 2013, maybe even American journalists will take note.