Former Telegraph publisher Conrad Black took a spin in the Financial Times today to chastise British officials for their cowardice in the face of Rupert Murdoch. It augmented News International’s firepower and enabled their journalists and editors to exploit the immunity, he argued.
According to him, Mr. Murdoch was a formidable adversary:
He has difficulty keeping friendships; rarely keeps his word for long; is an exploiter of the discomfort of others; and has betrayed every political leader who ever helped him in any country, except Ronald Reagan and perhaps Tony Blair. All his instincts are downmarket; he is not only a tabloid sensationalist; he is a malicious myth-maker, an assassin of the dignity of others and of respected institutions, all in the guise of anti-elitism. He masquerades as a pillar of contemporary, enlightened populism in Britain and sensible conservatism in the US, though he has been assiduously kissing the undercarriage of the rulers of Beijing for years. His notions of public entertainment and civic values are enshrined in the cartoon television series The Simpsons: all public officials are crooks and the public is an ignorant lumpenproletariat.
He added that it is unlikely that James Murdoch or Les Hinton (who is a “very decent” man, he wrote) committed crimes.
The irony of course, is that readers would trust Mr. Black as a credible source on corporate governance. For Mr. Conrad’s rap sheet, one only has to look at his author’s bio.
The writer is the former chairman of the Telegraph Newspapers and of many other newspapers. He was convicted on four counts of fraud and obstruction of justice in 2007. He served 29 months in prison until the Supreme Court vacated the convictions. An appeal court restored two counts. He will return to prison for 7½ months. He continues to assert his innocence. He is a biographer and weekly columnist for the National Review.
Is there some kind of Megan’s Law for disclosing the convictions of columnists?