In which case, this is bound to inflict some damage on the government in the short term. The public is not inclined towards liking, or trusting, spin doctors. And Andy Coulson leaving Downing Street through a fug of phone-hacking allegations will not do anything to change that. Questions will be asked about David Cameron's judgement in appointing Coulson in the first place.
What will matter more to No,10, though, is how this plays out in the longer term – and that depends largely on what happens next. Cameron is saying now that Coulson did an "excellent, excellent job". But if his departing aide is tied more closely to malpractice at the News of the World, then that testimony will appear more questionable. If not, then today's events may soon drift from public memory.