…this is the News of the World."
So the Wildhearts wrote in 1993. It still seems remarkably prescient, with lyrics such as "We changed, we didn’t even try. We opened up our mouths, telling all those lies to ourselves… And everybody else." This seemingly speaks down the years for this whole sorry saga.
In the intervening 18 years, not much seems to have changed. The tabloids went about their dirty business, and in the words of one News of the World employee, "Lives were ruined." The only surprise is that it's taken this long for the politicians to stand up to the Murdoch empire, and for the public to actually give a crap.
Lots has happened in the last week or so. The Murdochs are appearing before parliament today to answer questions about the phone hacking scandal, as will Rebekah Brooks, who was arrested last week, along with Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister's ex-director of Communications, and a number of other senior figures. It's difficult to see how David Cameron can come out unscathed, so sullied he is by association with Coulson and Brooks.
The Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan police have resigned over the furore, as it has been alleged that journalists have been paying police for information. This brings the story into a wider realm, and out of a pure media focus. This is corruption, plain and simple, at the heart of the metropolitan police, politicians, and journalists.
These are the three estates which are supposed to support, to fight for the public, and we are supposed to go to them to sort out our problems. The journalists relied on the police for their information, the police seemed happy to take the odd back-hander for information, and cast a blind eye over the more nefarious activities in the press. And the whole time the politicians, afraid of what revelations the tabloid could spin about them, cosied up to Rupert Murdoch, allowing his values and ideas to suffuse their politics, until we appear to have three identikit parties, each run by a waxwork clone of each other (apart from Ed Miliband, who's played by Mr Bean).
As allegations pile upon allegations, which pile upon wrongdoing, almost to the height of the world trade centre, those fated towers could be the most significant part of the whole story, as it was announced that the CIA are investigating whether victims of the 9/11 attacks had their phones hacked. One private investigator has already come forward to state that journalists tried to get phone numbers of the victims from him, which he declined. This could end in the downfall of the Murdoch empire globally, as surely no-one will want to associate with a company capable of such things.
The sorry state of affairs is that through the collusion of politicians, the press, and the police, the public have lost their outlet, and their ability to influence politics, and if one good thing comes out of this, it's that the press will report on, rather than shape the political arena, that is the job of the people, and they can rediscover their voice.
Let's hope we're not "too far gone to change the mess we’re in."