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She put a spell on you…

What spell does Rebekah Brooks hold over Murdoch?

Now I appreciate this phone hacking malarkey looks set to over-shadow all her other misadventures but by golly the lass has a lot of previous.

While at the News of the World, she oversaw its controversial campaign of “naming and shaming” convicted child sex offenders, after the murder of Sarah Payne. The paper’s decision led to angry mobs terrorising those they suspected of being child sex offenders, which included several cases of mistaken identity and one instance where a paediatrician had her house vandalised, apparently by people who misunderstood her occupational title to be the same as paedophile.

Grossly irresponsible. Someone could quite easily have been killed. Quite possibly the paediatrician…

Soon after becoming editor, Wade ran the headline “Bonkers Bruno Locked Up” concerning the mental health problems of former heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno. The next day The Sun ran a 600 word reply from the head of the mental health charity Sane, and since then has adopted a style guide on covering mental health stories prepared by the same charity.

Frank Bruno was completely away with the mixer (he allegedly thought he was Frankie Dettori) so there might seem some scope for humour except serious mental illness isn’t funny if you think about it for a second. And to stick the boot into a “National Institution” at his lowest ebb for a cheap laugh shows a lamentable lack of judgement and judgement is essentially what you pay an editor for.

On 3 November 2005, it was reported that Wade had been arrested following an alleged assault on her husband (Ross Kemp). She was later released without charge and the police took no further action. The Sun had been running a campaign against domestic violence at the time.


All these calamities and Brooks’ apparent reputation of being a right cow to work for could have ended or impeded her career long before the phone-hacking stuff (which undoubtedly will) but the reverse seems to be the case. So what has she got on Murdoch?

I very much doubt it’s sexual (but see later) because she ain’t a looker. She’s got a visage that is enough for dairy farmers to get restraining orders and an arse the size of Hungary miss-matched with racing tits.

A BBC reporter said Murdoch regarded her like a daughter… Hmm… Not so sure. It was widely reported that his marriage to a Chiness woman few years ago was part of an attempt to get his foot in the door of that market. This implies to me that Murdoch tends to use family for business and not the other way around.

Of course Mrs Brooks is close pals with Dave and Samantha Cameron and on that subject The Telegraph’s Peter Oborne has this to say…

It may well be dangerous for David Cameron to ditch Mrs Brooks. She may have acquired a great deal of information about him and the senior members of his cabinet, both at those quiet Chipping Norton dinners and quite possibly through other, nefarious means. Mrs Brooks is cornered and liable to strike out. But that is a risk the Prime Minister must take.

This only firmed up my hunch that the key to understanding how Rebekah Brooks got to where she is this. She is to quote Lyndon Johnson on J Edgar Hoover, “Probably better … inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” She knows where the bodies are buried.

I have to at this point remark on the general tone of that Telegraph piece though. Just read the whole thing and see if you agree with me. It gives the hint throughout of all sorts of sordidness amongst the “Chipping Norton” (yes, I know!) set which makes it sound like the Happy Valley set.

Enough wild speculation on that score but I was quite struck by the fulsome praise Oborne heaped upon Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian. Now far be it from me to speculate that The ‘graph and the Graun are expecting the contagion to spread to the Times and sense blood may soon be in he water. If The Times takes a whack here where will it’s readers defect to? Well I used to read The Times a lot. When it pay-walled guess which two papers replaced it? Have to say I don’t really miss it. I’m not suggesting the Guardian and Telegraph are planning a pincer assault on the old Thunderer. Not at all. It’s just what I’d do in their position.

Anyway, enough of that. Time for the inevitable Downfall mash-up.

H/T Harry


  1. “What spell does Rebekah Brooks hold over Murdoch?”

    I presume he just doesn’t want things to change. Probably hoping it will all blow over.

  2. Lynne says:

    I don’t understand the ginger minger effect either. But then, I don’t fund it by buying the rag. Nor will anyone else after this Sunday because its been announced that the next issue of the Screws will be the last issue. Cue empty champagne bottles littering the corridors of the Grauniad and the Blithering Bullshit Cunticulation.

  3. RAB says:

    Cue empty champagne bottles littering the corridors of the Grauniad and the Blithering Bullshit Cunticulation.

    But… but… arn’t they going to wring their hands over all the job losses???

  4. Lynne says:

    Even they aren’t thick enough to believe that nothing will fill the vacuum left by the closure of the Screws. I bet Murdoch is listing his options and plotting revenge as I type this. :0)

  5. NickM says:

    A person unknown yesterday bought the domains


    And it wasn’t me. I almost thought of it. Why? Because there is a UK paper (NE regional) called The Sunday Sun already. Shit. I could have had Becky Brooks crawling to my door with a suitcase full of non-sequentially numbered 20s. Shit. It did sort of vaguely occur.

  6. Sam Duncan says:

    Indeed, Lynne. Place your bets on the launch date for the Sunday Sun

    I’m torn on this one, though. Clearly Brooks is a deeply unpleasant person, and under her editorship the Screws engaged in some pretty unforgivable behaviour, not least the Paedo Panic. It’s not a paper I’ve ever so much as considered buying. But up till now I’d been fairly relaxed about the phone “hacking”. They tried out default PINs. That’s no more “hacking” than looking in ground floor windows when the curtains aren’t drawn: sleazy, but hardly the Crime of the Century. As someone said on Samizdata the other day, journalists have raked through people’s bins for years; nobody likes it, but nobody ever started a campaign to intimidate advertisers either.

    Sure, the Dowler case was a step too far, heads should roll, and I suppose the argument could be made that this is what happens when such an investigative method becomes routine. But the mob has now successfully shut down a newspaper with a 168 year history (a history, no doubt, that includes far worse). That makes me distinctly uneasy, especially when the biggest pitchforks and brightest torches were wielded by that subsidised gang of hypocritical tax-dodgers, the Guardian. As Nick says, are they hoping they can get the Times next?

  7. Kevin B says:

    In a post the other day, Anna Racooon was more outraged at Punchy Prezza making political capital, (kapital?), out of the whole sordid mess than about the so called hacking itself, and sure enough, the fucking beeb has the boozy bruiser first up in it’s coverage of the NotW closure.

    Oh, and Thad over there is pointing out the obvious outcomes; how Offpress will be vetting stories to ensure no dodgy means were used in their production.

  8. RAB says:

    Yes Sam, it’s weird isn’t it, that this story has been around for yonks and as long as it was celebs, footballers and politicians being hacked, nobody gave a toss really, but now it’s real people the shit really hits the fan.

    This one will run and run as they say, and the Times, Sun, Mirror, Mail, Star (garrh! I just had a look in at the Star website and they have video page three’s that you can’t turn off!!) etc needn’t be too smug and self righteous about this, cos I would be very suprised if this vile practice isn’t across the board.

    The world of journalism is very small, people may work for rival newspapers, but they generally know each other on a first name basis and swap notes. “That was a cracking exclusive you had last week, how’d you get it?” “Easy, I know this bloke who unlocks voicemail….” “Yeah! What’s his number?…

  9. RAB says:

    Thanks for the link Kev, excellent piece by Anna Racoon there, which backs up everything I said.

  10. Sam Duncan says:

    Heh. That’s what I get for taking time over my comments. So The Sun on Sunday it is, then. Unless it’s some enterprising domain squatter who’s registered the names. Wasn’t the Screws‘ magazine already called SUNDay? They could use that, at a pinch.

    Bloody hell, KB, but that Anna Racoon piece is brilliant.

  11. Sam Duncan says:

    By the way, let’s not forget that the Guardian has form when it comes to smearing commercial rivals. Remember Tiny Rowland?

    I can’t help wondering if GMG want more than simply to stop News Corp. buying Sky outright, and actually intend to get their mitts on it themselves. It’s just a feeling, but the Observer saga keeps haunting me. The relentlessness of this campaign, and the cleverness of its news management, seems too familiar.

  12. Lynne says:

    Anna Raccoon is bang on the money as usual. Respect!

  13. JohnSF says:

    Why is Rebekah Brooks so valuable to Rupert Murdoch?
    My guess is that she’s the second fuse wire (the first being the NotW itself) between the scandal and James Murdoch.
    If James starts taking heavy public damage, the BSkyB bid is toast, as an Ofcom intervention would be likely inevitable.

    However if Brooks does get the boot, she’s got an obvious career as a comedy straight gal:
    Brooks: “I have to tell you that I am sickened that these events are alleged to have happened.” Yes, obviously.

    Brooks: “I hope that you all realise it is inconceivable that I knew, or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”
    Inigo Montoya:
    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  14. RAB says:

    I suspect that Brooks value is in knowing where the bodies are buried as Nick said. NuLab were thick as thieves with Murdoch as long as they believed that the Sun would support them. Remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth “Et tu Rupert?” and “why hast thou forsaken us?” we got when he came out for the Tories at the last election? And there’s this of course…

    And probably a lot more where that came from.

    Murdoch is utterly ruthless, the bottom line is all that matters to him, and he will sacrifice anyone or thing for it, so don’t expect Rebekah to be around for long. Did she know what was going on? Yes of course she fuckin did. And Anna Racoon’s excellent piece tells you why. The Editor who sends you out on a story, was once a scared eager to please reporter themselves, and know every trick in the journalistic book.

    iDave is equally ruthless (in his own self interest rather than the Uk’s) and has now said she should resign, despite her being a close friend (she is also a close friend of Alastair Campbell too, by their friends shall ye know them, indeed!) He probably figures that the Coalgulation hasn’t had time to bury many bodies yet, so he’s safe ditching her.

    And now the cunt comes on all pious and announces not one, but two enquiries. One into the actual nitty gritty of the phone hacking and Police payments, but another that looks to the whole ethics and standards of the Press, which will undoubtedly lead to regulations being brought in that will mean the end of a free press and investigative journalism as we know it. Huge cheers from the Ruling Elite!

    I mean, christ knows there’s bugger all investigative journalism going on these days as it is, it’s all cut n paste press releases or flat out making shit up. Most journalists never get out of the friggin office.

    So if subdefuge, going undercover wired and camera’d, paying sources for stories is outlawed, and it certainly will be, kiss goodbye to any truth being out there, cos you won’t be reading it in the press or watching it on telly.

    And yes Sam, it was the Grauniad wot done it. They are the only ones who have kept this story alive purely out of their visceral hatred of Rupert Murdoch. Just like Tiny Rowlands, he must be “got” at all costs, whether they be truth or lies. And the reason is to scupper the BSkyB deal, which is the Crown jewels to Murdoch. They may come to rue the day their bloody minded hatred took them down this path.

  15. View from the Solent says:

    I’m looking forward to Sunday, just to see if the Screws has a massive clearout of the skeleton closet. And if so, whose bones they are.

  16. Tim Newman says:

    I imagine she has been kept on because she can shift one fuck of a lot of papers. The public were buying this shit, she kept serving it up. I doubt her career is over.

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