I detest the paparazzi. I want to say hate, but hating is a sin, so let’s say I detest the paparazzi. Why? Because I hold them directly responsible for the death of Princess Diana, who I loved.
I used to “like” Fox News, which is owned by Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch. I actually never gave Rupert Murdoch much thought, except as a family historian and a Murdoch descendant, I regarded Rupert as possibly one of my far-flung cousins. Now my “like” for Murdoch has turned to detest (I no longer regard him as a possible cousin), and I am greatly, enormously, disappointed in Fox News. I now feel this way because; I recently came across a fascinating news story, which I believe has been under-reported here in the US; well, at least on Fox News.
This tale is about the Murdoch empire, the paparazzi, and a seemly unlikely real life hero, the British actor Hugh Grant, (who I also love) star of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, About a Boy, Music and Lyrics, and many other films.
Hugh Grant, a London resident, was out driving his new “mid-life crisis car” one evening last December, when his Ferrari broke down in remote Kent. Mr. Grant, who has been relentlessly pursued by the paparazzi, was rescued, as luck would have it, by Paul McMillan, a former journalist of The News of the World tabloid press. McMillan, now a local pub owner in nearby Dover; immediately began to snap pictures of the already irritated Mr. Grant. Mr. Grant swore at McMillan, but soon realized McMillan was his only hope of getting help, resigned his fate, and accepted a lift into town.
While engaging in conversation with his nemesis turned rescuer, Mr. Grant found that McMillan was notorious for blowing the whistle on an early investigation on phone hacking by the British tabloids. The Metro Police investigated McMillan’s claims, a couple of arrests were made, and then corrupt police officers buried the larger scope of the investigation. McMillan also confirmed that Mr. Grant’s phone regularly had been hacked. McMillan, unrepentant of his former profession, stated, “Phone hacking was a price you had to pay for living in a free society”.
Their conversation was short, but Mr. Grant continued to be curious about how this nasty business of phone hacking was accomplished. So later that spring, Mr. Grant stopped by McMillan’s pub to have a repeat conversation, except this time, our hero, unknown to McMillan wore a hidden wire. As Mr. Grant put it, “The bugger bugged”.
In the course of the conversation, McMillan verified Princess Diana’s phone had been hacked, implicated high-level employees of Rupert Murdoch, high-level politicians, and corrupt police. As dastardly as this all was, even more sinister information was revealed. The tabloid press has bugged the phones of murdered and missing British citizens. One case in particular, involved a missing 13-year-old girl named Milly Dowler, who was later discovered murdered in 2002. McMillan revealed in the days Milly Dowler was missing, News of the World journalists hacked into and deleted the phone messages on her cell phone in order to free up space for new messages. Her family believing, it was Milly herself who was deleting the messages, were given false hope she was somehow alive. So while her family and friends left frantic messages begging for her to call them, the News of World press was listening and recording and deleting. Later, the police feared evidence had been destroyed.
Armed with incriminating information, it was our hero, Hugh Grant, who brought attention of the phone hacking scandal to the public by publishing an article in the New Statesman. Mr. Grant also went on national news programs and brilliantly mopped the floor with his opponents, shamming journalists and politicians alike. (for the entire episode go to YouTube and search Hugh Grant Question Time) Now with a growing angry public crying for justice, politicians and the police were forced to conduct real and thorough investigations. Inquiries into an even bigger world of phone hacking have spread in regards to slain British military soldiers and the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attack. To date, there have been more than a dozen journalists arrested, including top-ranking Murdoch employee Rebecca Brooks Wade, and Andy Coulson, a former Murdoch employee and Prime Minister David Cameron’s aide; resignation of two top police officials, and the closing of the News of the World newspaper. Official inquiries have made into how much Rupert Murdoch and his son James was involved.
Perhaps our American readers are saying, “ So? This awful affair does not affect the US”. Well perhaps, dear reader it does. It has been nosed about that shortly after 9/11, the victim’s phones were also hacked. The relatives of the 9/11 victims have demanded an inquiry and the FBI is now conducting an investigation.
How has Fox News, owed by Murdoch, reported these events? Fox News reporter Steve Doocy stated, “…a big hacking problem. It happened at the Pentagon, and Citibank, it’s happened at The News of the World. When are we going to get serious about it (phone hacking)?”
Okay… here is the problem for those of you who are clueless, the Pentagon and Citibank were the victims; the News of the World was the perpetrator. Perhaps one might say, an innocent mistake was made? Well, no. Fox News (aka Fair and Balanced) is owned by Murdoch, as are numerous media companies in the UK, Australia and the US and other parts of the world. Murdoch holdings include 20th Century Fox, Fox Television, The New York Post and the Wall Street Journal (for a complete list). The big question now is, how much did Rupert and James Murdoch know and how much of the phone hacking did he sanction in the quest for the sensationalized news story? Just how dirty is this guy??
Now, dear reader, we consider the here and why of the Hand of G-d in this story. I believe G-d can bring retribution to the wicked in this life. He is capable of using his influence on the hearts and minds of ordinary fallible human beings, like Hugh Grant. So a few questions to ponder; how likely was it Hugh Grant, high-profile actor, would be driving his car in an area of England he did not normally visit, then how likely would it be for his new Ferrari to break down, even more astonishing would be the one person who would show up to help him would be the one journalist who was so willing to reveal the phone hacking scandal? I propose the random meeting of Grant and McMillan to be an unlikely scenario. Could it be possible G-d found one (Hugh Grant) who is intelligent enough (scholarship student at Oxford), well-spoken enough, famous enough, curious enough and really angry enough to take on the tabloid press and the British political establishment? I say Yes!
Could it then be possible G-d in his infinite wisdom was able to influence the minds and wills of these two adversarial gentleman, who were then to both play a role in bringing to pass justice for the victims and their families of tragic events, and to hopefully bring the phone hacking scandal to a justifiable end? I say, yes dear reader, I believe so.
I invite your opinion and civil discussion on either the phone hacking scandal or the Hand of G-d in this situation, because after all, inquiring minds want to know.