A Horse, A Horse, The Kingdom For A Horse
Two days ago, with much fanfare, the Sun on Sunday launched, the latest title from the News International, its new flagship publication introduced to replace the disgraced News of the World. It is the Sunday edition, sister paper if you will, of the daily tabloid The Sun, which has, in the two days since, seen its own reputation dragged through the mud as never before.
The last two days of revelations at the Leveson enquiry have been truly shocking, uncovering a culture of corruption at the newspaper at a level previously hinted at, but never confirmed, and on an unprecedented scale. Yesterday we heard how as much as a million pounds in bribes had been paid to police sources by the newspaper, £150,000 by one journalist alone. That the police had known the scale of the phone hacking six years ago, and yet still insisted only a handful of people had been involved, how Rebekah Brooks was informed in confidence by the police.
Sue Akers, the Deputy Commissioner charged with the investigation stated that the payments were frequent, regular and significant. That the journalists involved knew what they were for and knew that they were illegal. That News Corp was an out-of-control organisation where bribery was routine and sanctioned by executives.
And then today we had the revelations of Jacqui Hames, the former Crimewatch presenter, that she and her husband were placed under surveillance at a time when her husband, a senior Scotland Yard detective, was investigating a murder case where the suspects had close contacts with the News of the World. How she believes the surveillance was an attempt by those suspects to have the couple intimidated, and how Rebekah Brooks made the “absolutely pathetic” in Ms Hames words claim that this was because she was investigating if the couple were having an affair with each other, despite that they had already been married for four years and openly in a relationship for eleven.
You find yourself staring, slack-jawed and open mouthed, as the revelations keep coming. Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who has already received £30,000 in compensation for having his own phone hacked by the organisation, has stated that it might turn out to be the worst case of corporate corruption for 250 years, that his researchers have so far counted 486 lies told to parliament by News International and that he suspects there is still a great deal more to come.
Oh, and Rebekah Brooks borrowed a horse.
Yes, you read that right. The red-headed harridan and public enemy number one Rebekah Brooks, went to the Metropolitan Police and borrowed a horse.
You probably already knew that. It’s been all over twitter and facebook. #horsegate has been one of the top trending hashtags all day. Jokes about the horse have been coming in thick and fast from every direction. No doubt in comedy clubs up and down the country this evening, the sort of comics who thrive on the topical already have been giving their horse jokes their first outings. It’s a great story that lends itself to humour. Rebekah Brooks, who we all agree looks a bit like a horse, borrowed one from the very people she is now accused of colluding with.
Now there are a few things to point out at this juncture. These are as follows.
1. Rebekah Brooks did not break the law when borrowing this horse.
2. The Metropolitan Police did not break the law in loaning her the horse.
3. There was nothing untoward in the loaning of the horse.
4. The horse was a retired police horse, it was not removed from any important duty in order to be loaned to her.
5. It is common practice for retired police horses to be loaned to horse lovers to look after.
6. Rebekah Brooks and her family know how to look after horses, and probably looked after it very well.
And yet, if you had looked on any of the social networking or political commentary sites today, you would think that the loaning of this horse was the scandal to end all scandals. That this was the most important of all the revelations heard at Leveson today.
Except, it wasn’t heard at Leveson. In fact, it’s not entirely clear how the news came out. Some vague mention that the ongoing investigation turned up this fact.
You’d almost think someone wanted this news to come out today. Today of all days.
Look, widespread corruption. Yeah, but a horse, that’s funny.
Look, millions in bribes. But “hey Rebekah, why the long face.”
Look, News International may have tried to cover up for murder. HORSE! JUST LOOK AT THE HORSE! THERE IT IS LOOK!HORSE! FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE, KEEP LOOKING AT THE HORSE!
It’s called a classic diversionary tactic. When you know bad news is coming, try to get everyone talking about something else. And the horse was a doozy, they have probably been holding it back for months just waiting for the right moment. One thing we have tended to forget in all this, is that News International are not just corrupt lying scumbags, they are also extraordinarily good at it.