Of Hacks and Hackers

17 Dec

Has anyone else noticed the difference between the treatment meted out to Wiki- Leaks founder, Julian Assange, and that to Andy Coulsen, erstwhile editor of low-brow hack-sheet News of the World – a job which seemed to lead naturally to him becoming a Tory flack? Because it is, to say the least, rather stark.

A daily affront to human intelligence, NoW engaged in phone hacking in order to dig up dirt on everyone from royalty to soccer players to movie stars – a crime which has landed one of its reporters, Clive Goodman, and his technical support, Glenn Mulcaire, in jail. The pair had amassed more than  4000 phone numbers, PINs and tapes of what were supposed to be private conversations. In one case that has recently come to light, Mulcaire even contacted actress Sienna Miller’s service provider, Vodaphone,  and actually got them to change her PIN code for voicemail retrieval. And we are supposed to believe that Goodman’s boss knew absolutely nothing about this.

At least, that what both the British police and Press Complaints Commission are telling us – that Coulsen is a mere innocent, unaware of what his staff were doing to feed the tabloid’s scandal machine.

Assange on the other hand, in offering details of the corrupt doings of the world’s governors, is a criminal, even “a terrorist,” according to the more rabid examples of modern media like Fox News. Now out on bail, he has not been accused of  a crime in leaking information provided to him by a yet-as-unnamed source. But there are many calling for his arraignment on criminal charges and the presumption of guilt on the part of credit card companies, Paypal and the Wiki-Leaks server, is clear. Exposing the powerful is wrong, but exposing the peccadillos or whatever of celebrities through illegal means is no big deal.

In fact, both NoW and Fox News belong to the same man, Rupert Murdoch, an individual who has done more to damage the notion of the public’s right to know what is going on than Stalin.

Now new evidence has come out that Coulsen and other top editors at NoW knew of and approved of using illegal means to gather gossip, and that Scotland Yard were not only aware of it, but refused to either investigate or alert the victims. They are currently seeking payback through other methods, by suing Murdoch’s creepy publication for damages. Maybe a new inquiry will be forthcoming as well.

Meanwhile, for Britain’s Conservative government, police and Crown Prosecution Service, the difference between blowing the whistle and breaking the law remains confused.


2 Responses to “Of Hacks and Hackers”

  1. eden baylee December 19, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Wow, another brilliant post, Augusta! Thanks for drawing out the connection.


  1. Strange Tales and Press Standards « Global Kiosk - December 1, 2011

    […] into the culture, practices and ethics of Britain’s press after the famous News of the World hacking scandal. But since I read the Guardian every day, quotes and headlines about it keep popping up and […]

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