News of the World’s Rebekah Brooks and Rupert Murdoch now become the hunted
The hunter has now become the hunted. Rebekah Brooks, who must have sent wave after wave of tabloid hacks to doorstep the rich and famous while editor of the Sun and News of the World, is now getting some of her own medicine.
But as the media spotlight on her continues to burn brightly, she has finally resigned declaring she no longer wants to be the “focal point of the debate” surrounding the future of Murdoch’s much maligned media empire. Oh, how the world must be shedding a tear for her.
It is not yet clear why Brooks’ resignation was suddenly accepted by Murdoch. The media tycoon had stood steadfastly by her despite calls from politicians and the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler for her to go.
So why has Brooks finally been allowed to fall on her own sword, a week after the innocent employees of the now defunct News of the World were given their marching orders even though they were not involved in the phone hacking crisis?
It is clear that Brook’s beeline to the exit door early today shows that Murdoch in no longer calling all the shots.
The Saudi investor that owns 7pc of News Corporation, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal al Saud, told Newsnight: “I will not accept to deal with a company that has a lady or a man that has any sliver of doubts on her integrity”.
Even Murdoch’s own daughter Elisabeth sees the writing on the wall and told friends that Brooks had “f***** the company.” But she should not be cast as some kind of a scapegoat in this ugly drama.
Murdoch’s main problem is he is out of touch and floundering to deal with the crisis because he is trying to play the new media game using old media rules.
In the heyday of the traditional press, such a crisis would have been a slow-burning affair, each installment of which would have been exposed each day to meet the cycle of daily print deadlines. Now that this 24-hour news cycle no longer exists, the 24/7 media, fuelled by the Internet and social media, hungrily mauls over the minutiae minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour.
So, dramatically grand gestures like the closing of the News of the World or the arrival of Murdoch to London to sort this mess out, no longer frame headlines that last throughout the day and set the 24-hour news agenda in stone. Now, such transparent and self-serving gestures are picked apart and often raise more questions than answers.
Murdoch’s outmoded approach is seeing the sandal unraveling like a slowly peeling onion causing plenty of tears for all concerned.
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