Exposing the exposers | Book review
The phone hacking bomb that exploded in Britain has been followed up by the equally explosive Leveson Inquiry which put British press standards in headlines around the world.
Detective work and perseverance
In a literary follow-up Labour MP, Tom Watson, and Independent journalist, Martin Hickman, have released a book on the phone hacking culture which emerged in 2003, called Dial M for Murdoch.
It seems an odd time to be publishing a book using evidence from trials and investigations that have yet to finish.
By showing the mix of detective work, perseverance, and the repercussions of getting on the wrong side of the ‘dark arts’, M is for Murdoch's style is imitative of the sensational language of the tabloids.
Watson has played a central role as the Murdoch clan’s nemesis, asking the awkward questions of News Corp, News International (NI), and Parliament, that a book describing his fight and that of the lawyers who followed up the case is inevitable.
As with any such book, there is a very clear line between those on the side of the ‘good’, the journalists, whistleblowers, and lawyers, who fought against the big bad wolf of the business-savvy media conglomerate.
It is also an interesting, in depth account of how the story unfolded, from someone with behind the scenes knowledge and with the power to question NI.
Alongside the blow-by-blow account of how the case developed from initial reports of wrongdoing, the book delves into the initial mismanagement by the police.
The book offers an extensive insight into the amount of finger-pointing and the descent into buck shifting as people within NI and metropolitan police officials refused to take responsibility for their actions.
What is likely to cause the most shock is the level of blood vendetta carried out by NI on those it deemed a threat to exposure.
This is most amply demonstrated by the authors in the amount of ‘dirt’ that NI tried to dig up on each of those involved in the fight.
One of the main criticisms is that there seems little detail in just how much perseverance there was by some of those involved in exposing the hacking.
It would be nice to get more of an idea of the lengths the Guardian’s Nick Davies and the two lawyers, Charlotte Harris and Mark Lewis, had to go to uncover the evidence.
There also seem to be little real analysis of the background, character, and business acumen of both James and Rupert Murdoch.
The book is also a summary of what has happened so far, therefore it only makes sense if you have been following the Leveson Inquiry in detail already.
Watson and Hickman have also presented themselves as valiant knights in shining armour, fighting against the Goliath of News Corp. Whereas this does give the book bias, it remains a good update of the case so far.