‘Scousers never buy the Sun

By skepticlawyer

I’m not a folk-singer aficionado, but I have a feeling this particular exponent of the genre has just written himself a number one. What makes the piece especially interesting is Billy Bragg’s awareness that the whole Murdoch blow-up not only reflects badly on media and politicians, but also on us, the (fairly) willing consumers of this kind of prurient ephemera.

That said, it doesn’t need to be like that: sales of what Scousers (Liverpudlians) call ‘The Scum’ tanked after the paper engaged in egregious lying in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. If it’s possible for an entire city — rich and poor alike — to turn away from invasive, pointless crap, then it’s possible for the rest of us to follow suit.

UPDATE ADMIN DEM: Damn SL you nicked my funnie topic… News Corp Executives Resign after new scandal


  1. Posted July 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear dear SL…. so full of hope. Tis a consumer action devoutly to be wished. Yes, it’s possible, but you’d have to turn the dial on the infinite improbability drive all the way around to “she canna handle much more cap’n” levels if one can mix references into “the trekkers guide to the galaxy”.

    Evidence: http://www.businesspundit.com/11-dumb-scandals-vs-actual-important-issues/

    (11? /Just/ 11? Why stop there).

    By the gods I hope I’m wrong and you are right.

  2. Posted July 15, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    I suppose I (and Bragg) are pushing back against the notion that prurient, low-brow tastes must be as tightly correlated with social class as they currently are in Britain (with the exception of Liverpool; the Sun has never recovered from Hillsborough).

    If the nexus can be broken, then what amounts to ‘taste’ regulation by ‘social betters’ will be unnecessary. Make no mistake: Roman-style privacy laws and an Ofcom regulator directed at the print media will kill the tabloids (as it has in France), which makes for a politer, more attractive public culture. And which also means that individuals like Dominque Strauss-Kahn can spend nearly a lifetime before getting caught out.

  3. Posted July 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] : Aaaah, decent regulators, not self-regulators as part of a possible solution. We agree again.

    It’s not a social class problem, it never had to be. One can have sensible proles. A well-informed citizenry is desirable, and would rid us of many evils.

    And if we get that, if taste regulation becomes redundant, if we get a civilized pulic culture, the bogan mindset is also an endangered species – the single instance perhaps of removing a predator immediately diminishing the number of prey.

  4. Posted July 15, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    And DSK never gets found out at home – until he travels to a less polite, less politic jurisdiction.

    I am no fan of the media, and think journalists grossly overplay their hand when they equate a free press with free speech. But the great and the good telling the poor and the under-educated ‘you are not allowed to like that’ makes me feel equally uncomfortable.

    When the legal issues are so finely balanced, lawyers – like the witches in Macbeth – equivocate. I suppose I am equivocating now. I do not like the way French privacy law has allowed DSK to operate with impunity, but I also want people of talent to take their place at the forefront of our society, without minor peccadilloes being used against them.

    I would hate to be the Lord Justice leading this enquiry, or, even worse, a judge in a matter on point. Judges, you see, have to make a decision. They can’t just sit on the fence.

  5. Posted July 16, 2011 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    In NSW we broke one part of the culture that seems to have existed in the UK with the first Wood Royal Commission into Police Corruption. He devoted a lot of time—which journalists these days seem to forget about—to exploring the links between corrupt detectives and crime reporters in the press. The former would take the latter out for drinks and long lunches and give them gruesome stories they could only partially print, and the latter would cover up for the ethical breaches they must have known about.
    It’s only partly about the journalists, and privacy, SL, as you said in your post from before. The effect of the scandal on policing and the workings of the courts should be much, much more serious.

  6. Patrick
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I really like Billy Bragg for all that he and I have never agreed on anything past the fact that none of this would have happened if we’d lived by the sea 😉

  7. Posted July 16, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    SL on DSK and sitting on the fence… Understandable, but there is always that tension whether or not the people discovering wrongdoing are using surveillance and gossip for profit, or a heavy-handed police. And in this case, the reliability (many lies to cops) and motives of the woman (with heavy links to serious criminals including money launderers) makes the cases from prosecution and defence far from straightforward. One can only hope that decent prosecutors uncover the truth, that there are no weasel clauses abused by defenders, and that the US court system works.

  8. Posted July 16, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    (Continental) Europe suffers badly from an over regulated, over “polite” quality press and media. It means a whole lots of issues get dealt with badly, leading to simmering, unvented public resentments, leading to political insurgencies of very dubious types. Tabloid media has its excesses — as Britain so regularly demonstrates. But the lack of them is also a major problem.

  9. john malpas
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    And who is going to control the media? A bevy of lawyers? Politicians!!
    For that matter what is polite?
    The UK does not lack for regulation , state and local control and limited free speach and you dissaprove still.

  10. Posted July 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    It’s only partly about the journalists, and privacy, SL, as you said in your post from before. The effect of the scandal on policing and the workings of the courts should be much, much more serious.

    This is absolutely true, Liam, and is probably the reason why the press is going to finish up regulated over here. You can’t have the justice system perverted like this.

    As I pointed out on one of the other threads, I don’t normally go for ‘lexical priority’ arguments, but I’m reasonably sure the rule of law is pretty close to the primary value in any stable society – Deepak Lal points out that you can have a stable, well governed society that isn’t a democracy, as long as you have the rule of law. Lose the rule of law, and everything else goes down in flames: good, bad and indifferent.

  11. kvd
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Well I just think it’s great that the only news outlet engaging in such activity is News. And it is very reassuring that all sides of politics join together so energetically in the condemnation of such absolute beyond the pale unsporting behavior.

    Now, tomorrow morning I expect we will see the sun rise. Plus other stuff I’m not so sure of. But it will all be good and I hope the total lack of self interest exhibited by all the papers continues.

  12. kvd
    Posted July 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I expect you’ve all read it, but I found this article interesting.

    I’m not one of the “only two more sleeps till Tuesday” crowd, because I find it hard with such a large company to assign blame so easily to the ‘bosses’. I’d contrast this culpability with that, for instance, of the board of Hardie, seemingly actively planning an offshore move to avoid asbestos responsibilities.

    I’m thinking the UK parliamentary enquiry will want this done and dusted asap, with a suitable head on a pike. For entirely selfish reasons, not one of which will be to do with freedom abused by the press.

  13. Posted July 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m not a huge fan of Mr Murdoch or his empire. I don’t like the way he does business (I think he’s a bully) and that Hardie-esque dodge of restructuring to avoid paying creditors is one that I know Lachlan has pulled during his time with News Corp. For me, not honouring a contract is a big red warning marker that these are NOT good people to do business with.

    In terms of journalistic conduct and management it really seems to be a case of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Unfortunately for Rupert he’s so notoriously ‘hands on’ in terms of editorial direction that it’s impossible for the public to believe that he didn’t know, even if that’s actually true. That said, I’d argue that Rupert is only personally culpable if you subscribe to the Yamashita principle.

    The real danger for him and his family is that should the hacking of 911 victims be confirmed I think the only way for News International to survive the public backlash would be a total purge of Murdoch blood from the company. (As a British viewer it just irks me that whilst hacking of 7/7 victims in the UK has been confirmed, only hacking US victims of 9/11 seems to be so unforgivable that it rocks the corporation.) I don’t actually understand why the WSJ chap resigned, unless that’s an admission that the US hacking did occur or a way to force a resignation by James – he certainly can’t stay with both Brooks and the US boss gone.

  14. Posted July 17, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] – the point on the transatlantic victim hacking difference is telling.

    The thing is, newsprint worldwide is 13% of Murdoch empire revenues, sellable (even if only plant – and there’d be lots of employees available for those filling the gap) so losing the lot is a palpable hit, but not fatal.

    The bulk of the earnings are from cable and content, so it’s only if the sly old Fox gets recognized by the US fox viewers that he’ll /really/ bleed.

    I think the politicians starting to condemn him is convenient for them rather than a matter of principle, and perhaps best termed a slaves’ revolt – although Oz politicians are still happy enough, or cowed enough, to wear the chains with smiles on their faces.

    Posted July 18, 2011 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    DEM,14, they could do what they did with the last Czar… “Anastasia screamed in vain”.

One Trackback

  1. By Right penalty for the wrong crime « Balneus on July 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    […] the Liverpudlians who almost as an entire city, turned from a Murdoch tabloid?  (See "Scousers never buy the Sun" by Skepticlawyer 2011-07-15). What makes the piece especially interesting is Billy Bragg’s […]

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