Thursday, July 14, 2011

We were no match for their untamed wit

Newspapers, after all, are very sensitive to the moods and prejudices of their readers. It was because such papers as the News of the World knew that their readers were much more interested in eavesdropping on Prince Charles's pillow talk than bothered about how the snooping was carried out, that they felt able to get away with publishing such stories in the first place.

On one analysis, it is easy to see why all this was judged fair game, while the hacking of Milly Dowler's voicemail was considered so heinous that the News of the World was immediately deserted by its advertisers and wound- up by its owners. The paper was widely seen as read by the working man and woman, people who would never empathise with the sufferings of hacked princesses or pop stars (how can the rich really suffer, with all that money?); but when the phone of an "ordinary" girl – one of their own– is hacked into, at a time when she was actually dead, the readers' empathy with the victim is overwhelming.
Ah yes, that would be it. Poor Milly Dowler was a working class heroine and thus the labouring class revolted on her behalf, whilst enjoying lurid tales of the sexual adventures of their betters. It was nothing to do with the perversion of the police investigation into her disappearance and the suffering of her family by the hacker's act of deleting messages to make more space for incoming. It was nothing to do with the facts of Milly Dowler's family being unknown and of their agony being exposed to public glare. It was nothing to do with the fact that she was actually dead. No, no, it was all about class solidarity, envy and the hypocrisy of the groundlings.

Dominic Lawson, son of Nigel and brother of Nigella, is an Old Etonian. As this old Daily Mail article explains, Eton is an absolutely splendid place whose old boys have achieved so much because of the character-building education they received:
Try being 13 years old and walking through Windsor, the nearest town, wearing a tailcoat and stiff collar, while all the locals stare at you and the tourists frantically take photographs. After that, any other form of public appearance is a doddle.
See, it is not about money and privilege at all, which will be a relief to the lower-middles and upper-workings of the Daily Mail's readership. Turned out nice again, missus!

John Oliver and John Stewart, next exit:

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