Gay Celebrities & Politicians Cheer at Crisis in Murdoch’s Press Empire
"Shut up, you homophobic cow."
Schadenfreude is the great German word for taking pleasure in the sorrows of others, usually implied that the former is getting comeuppance. That may be apt for how the New York Times has been avidly reporting the travails of Rupert Murdoch, one of the most powerful press barons in the world and a scourge of the Times for its perceived liberal bias.
According to the paper, the then-husband of Rebekah Brooks, until Friday, July 15, one of the most powerful people in British media, uttered the "homophobic cow" comment after she made a snide remark to a gay member of Parliament.
Brooks was the head of New International, the British media powerhouse that published several newspapers under Rupert Murdoch, who owns the New York Post and Fox News in this country. The Times isn’t alone in its barely hidden glee at the travails of a man who has long instilled fear in politicians in the U.K.
A seemingly endless series of scandals involving bugging and impersonating people to obtain information on former prime ministers, members of the royal family and even the queen herself has brought Murdoch opprobrium from every corner of Her Majesty’s realm.
British tabloid News of the World has been at the heart of recent scandal in which journalists at the paper stand accused of hacking into the voice mail of a missing girl, listening to and then deleting some messages and giving her parents and authorities false hope that she was alive.
In fact, 13-year-old Milly Dowler had been abducted and murdered. Her remains were discovered six months after she disappeared. Convicted killer Levi Bellfield was found guilty of her murder just last month. The cruel saga was made worse by revelations that similarly intrusive actions by journalists associated with the tabloid had targeted people who had been the victims of other crimes.
News of the World was abruptly shuttered by News Corporation, which is owned by Australian media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, whose interests spans the globe and includes American media company Fox News.
Among the tabloid’s targets were a number of celebrities. Some of them spoke out with delight at the news of the tabloid’s end, including openly gay pop singer George Michael, the Times reported in its July 11 story.
"Hey boyz and girls, a message to my english fans in particular," Michael tweeted on July 7. "Today is a fantastic day for Britain."
Actor Steve Coogan, star of the new Michael Winterbottom movie "The Trip," weighed in as well. Coogan claims that journalists hacked his cell phone. During a July 8 appearance on a BBC news program, Coogan said, "Let’s not forget that The News of the World is -- as far as I’m concerned, always has been -- a misogynistic, xenophobic, single-parent-hating, asylum-seeker-hating newspaper, and it’s gone to the wall and I’m delighted."
Coogan went on to add, "I think it’s a wonderful day for the press: A small victory for decency and humanity. Because people knew this was going on, everyone knew about it but people just accepted it, thought it was part of the landscape to tolerate this kind of behavior."
Coogan later had the opportunity during the BBC appearance to dress down one of the tabloid’s former editors, Paul McMullan, the New York Times reported.
McMullen attempted to justify the practice of hacking phones and computers by citing a need to uncover the misdeeds of crooked politicians, but Coogan would have none of it.
"Hang on a second; I’m not a politician -- why go after me? Milly Dowler’s relatives are not politicians -- why go after them?" Coogan demanded. "It’s morally bankrupt, and you are morally bankrupt."
Coogan dismissed the notion of the tabloid standing watch over the nation’s public servants, and said that the tabloid had been more interested in unearthing scandal for the sake of creating media sensation.