The hacking scandal was about many things but the way in which it has played-out and, crucially, been reported reminds us that it has chiefly been about power. Not just the power of the press when weighed against the power of parliament but the relative positions of power and authority within the press.
In that respect it has been a confusing, complex kind of conflict. You might view the newspapers as over-mighty magnates whose powers should have been curbed long ago. In this picture, the press barons have been so revolting – in every sense – that their activities began to threaten the security – and decency – of the state itself.
But there has been another war too. A media civil war within the larger parallel conflicts between press, parliament and public. And that war has had a simple purpose: destroying Rupert Murdoch. It will make a great film: The Sweet Smell of Success meets Game of Thrones.
I should declare an interest. I write for The Times and I have plenty of friends who are, or at some point have been, on the Murdoch payroll. I also happen to think that Murdoch is a great proprietor. Not everyone who owns a newspaper loves newspapers. Murdoch does. Not many people who owned The Times would have kept it open these past thirty years. Murdoch has. I wouldn’t expect that to persuade those who hate him but I don’t think it’s trivial either.
I also don’t think it is wrong or disgraceful for The Guardian (with some assistance from the BBC) to try to destroy Murdoch. That’s their prerogative. But let’s at least be honest and acknowledge that’s the aim.
And, to be fair, Nick Davies makes little if any attempt to hide that in his latest account of the hacking drama.