A pie-to-the-face is not crucial to a good farce but it certainly helps; most particularly if the farce lacks wit, health care oxygen or much of anything beyond a load of rich old plonkers sitting at on bench and saying, neuropathologist “I really can’t remember anything at all”.
Thank goodness for the pie-in-the-face.
At eight-jillion o’clock yesterday Australian Eastern, a comic of little note aimed meringue at Murdoch Senior. An act that might have otherwise seemed silly was gratefully received. For hours, we’d been watching mass media’s most historic scandal sink in a bog of “I didn’t know. I wasn’t there. A few rotten apples spoil our barrel of evil.” Oh god it was dull.
First, we met former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson. To bring you up to speed in this made-for-TV melodrama, he was the chap that resigned “honourably” from his position earlier this week over hiring a former Murdoch deputy editor as a public relations consultant for the Bobbies. PR mandarin Neil Wallis was arrested last week in connection with the News of the World phone-hacking scandal which turned from shady to seven-shades-of-hell when it was revealed that the publication (by which we mean bog roll) had intercepted voice-mail messages to the mobile telephone of schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
In the days following the 13-year-old’s disappearance in March 2002, NoTWjournalists (by which we mean lavatories) deleted messages in order to make room for new ones. Upon finding a cleared mailbox, Milly Dowler’s parents, rather naturally, assumed that their daughter was alive. Milly’s bones were found six months later in a wood.
Exactly when this evildoing came to Sir Paul’s attention is unknown. What is known, however, is that in February of this year the former Commish accepted $18,000 worth of free accommodation at a luxury spa, Champneys, to which Wallis was a public relations consultant.
Are you still with me? No? Buck up sunshine. I stayed up and watched this shit.
Back to the site of Sir Paul’s rehabilitation: at Champney’s we also find that Charlie, the husband of former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, runs a crackpot clinic in the complex. As I was watching Sir Paul and reading these perverse facts at The Guardian I wondered when a horned beast whose stone heart was etched with the Illuminati eye would arrive.
Well, it took a while for Rupert to appear. I promise. I’ll get to the pie in a minute.
First, we heard from former Scotland Yard exec, John Yates. John, as I understand it, is in the poo for (a) doing a crap job in phone-hacking investigations of 2006 (b) trying to find Neil Wallis’ daughter a job and (c) calling himself a “postbox”.
Yates’ testimony was followed by seven years of blah blah blah. And then, dressed in identical suits just like Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger inTwins Murdochs Rupert and James appeared from a cloud made entirely of New World Order money.
The first few minutes of this testimony was riveting. And not only because James had the most uneven spray tan I’d ever seen; seriously, can’t wealth buy you decent carotene, these days? Murdoch Sr uttered, “This is the humblest day of my life.” He looked like a husk made only of money and absolute deniability. Ialmost felt pity as he appeared to have vascular memory lapses. But, lucidity returned frequently enough to let us know that this snaky sophos can spell “prejudicial” in his sleep.
James was remarkable for his creaseless forehead, stunning manicure and ability to say nothing for very long periods of time. Rupert was momentarily remarkable for invoking the memory of his father, Sir Keith, and the role he played in changing the course of the Gallipoli campaign. While it’s absolutely true that the Gallipoli Letter altered the course of history through its fearless if questionable style of investigation, I REALLY DON’T SEE YOUR POINT, RUPERT. Perhaps it is: my father was an early hacker and he saved the lives of Australian soldiers. I sell papers by hacking the telephones of “love rats” and young, murdered white women. Can you spot the difference?
Throughout all of this, the glamorous Wendi Deng seemed restive. Perhaps she was distracted by her blue nails (yes it was so effing boring I looked at everyone’s manicure) and fuchsia suit. Or, perhaps she just wanted some biffo because BAM when the pie-comic lurched toward her husband’s head, she became Neo from The Matrix and totally Jedi-mind tricked the pie off her husband’s Sith robes and back into the face of the assailant. And, yes, I know that’s a mixed sci-fi metaphor but I haven’t slept and it was nine million o’clock by then.
Finally, Rebekah Brooks appeared. I’d been waiting for this. Much as one sits through the Formal Wear in Miss USA hoping for a glimpse of swimsuits, I’d suffered. Here’s the short version: she said nothing with all of the conviction and Received Pronunciation of a media toff who believes she can do no wrong. We’re The Meeja. And we know What’s Best.
How much will change is uncertain. How many incremental or extreme changes will occur in our consumer understanding of top-down media is unknown. One thing is clear, though. David Cameron must be on in a bit and I am not getting any effing sleep.