The hypocrisy and double standards from Murdoch and News Corp on media freedom and protection of sources is truly breathtaking.
Sun journalists are rightly celebrating the collapse of cases against them brought by Operation Elveden. The paper was quite correct to say the journalists should never have been pursued for doing their jobs and that the prosecutions represented a threat to media freedom by creating a chilling effect deterring sources from blowing the whistle on issues of public interest.
“Crown Persecution Service” screamed the front page of the Sun which crowed about the victory for press freedom as the cases collapsed.
But the journalists who are heaving such a huge sigh of relief have no reason to thank Rupert Murdoch or News Corp, since it was their initiative which aided and abetted this disastrous mis-adventure.
There was a stark absence in the Sun’s coverage this week of the role played by News Corp’s Management and Standards Committee in the affair which betrayed journalists and their sources by handing over more than 300 million emails, expense claims, phone records and other documents to the police.
Who needs RIPA when Murdoch and his cronies cosy up to the authorities to shaft journalists and stick the knife in to public interest journalism.
At the same time Murdoch is apparently letting his dogs off the leash and calling them to attack Labour more effectively, following the party’s manifesto pledge to curb the power of press barons.
Labour pledged to ensure that no “one media owner should be able to exert undue influence on public opinion and policy makers”.
The manifesto also says: “No media company should have so much power that those who run it believe themselves above the rule of law.”
No single company would be able to own more than 34 per cent of UK media, which would mean Murdoch would have to break up News UK which owns the Sun, the Times and Sunday Times.
According to the Independent, Murdoch ordered his paper to “get its act together” to prevent Labour from winning the election.
And sure enough we’ve seen a steady stream of Red Ed bile coming from the Murdoch press, typified by the ridiculous revisitng of an old story about Milliband’s second kitchen and an attempt to paint him as a Downton Abbey toff.
As we approach polling day the vitriol will intensify and no doubt there will be an attempt to justify it as a desperate battle to preserve a much-loved British institution and defend the principles of an independent free press.
And yes, there are flaws in Labour’s policy, particularly in respect of implementing all of the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry, but if we consider Murdoch’s eagerness to work hand-in glove with a state which pursued his own journalists with such relish, are seriously being asked to believe in him as the trusted guardian of our hard-fought liberties?