Rupert Murdoch: The Political Thriller
Friday, July 22, 2011
The News of the World phone hacking scandal is rocking the UK to its core and riveting Americans. It's a tale of vast illegal snooping, cover-ups, political liaisons, a mysterious death. The cliché is, ‘You can’t make this stuff up’ — but lots of people have. Kurt Andersen finds it strangely reminiscent of the BBC miniseries State of Play, a political thriller involving a ruthless tabloid, a British politician, and a mysterious death.
But Michael Jackson, a television executive who used to run channels for the BBC, says State of Play appears almost naïve in retrospect. Jackson tells Kurt that only film noir comes close to capturing the cynicism of what happened at News of the World. The sordid tale, combining all the powerful elements of society, is Dickensian in its scope, Jackson says. “Every last piece of the establishment fitted together as if in a jigsaw puzzle.”
Rupert Murdoch also appears as a Citizen Kane figure, a self-made media mogul finally brought down by his success and overreach. Amazingly, Jackson tells Kurt that he encountered Murdoch lieutenant Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor, on an airplane watching Citizen Kane; “she told me, in fact, it was her favorite film.”
You really can’t make this stuff up.