It has come to a pretty pass indeed, when we have to rely on the New York Times to report a British political and media scandal, while much of the UK media is absorbed with triviality. The NYT reported comprehensively on the pre election activities of Prime Minister David Cameron’s principal press spokesman, Andy Coulson, when he was previously employed by Britain’s principle muck spreader, the Murdoch owned News of the World. Admittedly the claims were not new, but the New York Times brought added authenticity. Namely that Coulson had known full well that some of his reporters were involved in extensive phone interceptions, and not of the Watergate variety. Mobile phones were bugged and broken into in order to access private personal information, as befits a Sunday newspaper that thrives on low grade salaciousness.
Coulson denied the allegations, but then as Mandy Rice Davies so famously opined, he would wouldn’t he. The Prime Minister maintained his customary silence, for Coulson is too important a hatchet man to lose.
But where was the British press, possibly with the honourable exception of The Guardian, which faithfully reported on the NYT report?
Why it was obsessing on tittle tattle inherited from the Right wing blogosphere, that Foreign Secretary, William Hague, had, ‘nudge, nudge’ shared a hotel bedroom with a young researcher, whom Hague subsequently gave a job to. The inference of course being that married Hague is gay. Now there are some serious issues attached to this saga, although not as serious as those surrounding the NYT story. Hague should not be showering jobs around like confetti to young researchers who have absolutely no experience or background in foreign affairs is one of them. If Hague is gay or bisexual, there must surely also be question marks as to whether he gave the job to someone on their merits, or because he wanted to, or was having a liaison with him. If Hague is gay or bisexual, there is also the issue of his voting record on sexual equality issues, and on this score Hague has been found wanting.
But for large sections of the British media, the real story is of course is whether Hague is gay or bisexual, and causing him maximum embarrassment. The United States has largely grown up from all of this. Britain, or rather sections of the British media on today’s evidence, is still wanting.