Noah denkt™ -
Project for Philosophical Evaluations of the Economy
The shrewd, the slick and the hairy
Dialog with the Alter Ego on the News Corp phone hacking scandal, first drafted on July 19,
published on July 20, 2011
Question by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): Have you followed Rupert Murdoch’s appearance in front of the
British parliament’s culture and media select committee?
Answer by Noah denkt™ (Nd): Yes, we have.
AE: What do you take away from it?
Nd: Obviously, there are quite a few observations that are worthwhile noting here. For instance, it was interesting
to see the somewhat laborious dynamic between father and son; it was astonishing to see how old Rupert
Murdoch actually is by now; it was impressive to witness the civility and competence of the committee members;
and it was amazing to see how self-exculpatory the News Corp leadership is
AE: Okay. But is there an overall conclusion you would want to draw from the above mentioned hearing?
Nd: Well, if there is such a thing as a general conclusion to be drawn it would probably be this: It does appear as
if phone hacking and the use of other illicit methods are pretty much standard practice among tabloid newspapers
AE: Why do you believe that?
Nd: Because one of the MPs (Louise Mensch) referenced Piers Morgan’s published diaries (“The Insider”) during
the hearing where he, apparently, acknowledges that phone hacking, paying the police and using private
investigators were part of his journalistic work both at the Daily Mirror and the News of the World. That to us
suggests that we are talking about a wide spread culture and not about an isolated case here.
AE: Alright. Let’s assume your interpretation is correct.. What then does this tell us about the reality of free
Nd: Obviously, this goes to show that the increased competition and the falling market share that newspapers are
subjected to lead them to ever more frivolous acts in order to secure their own survival.
AE: And doesn’t this demonstrate that the free market reality has long lost its decency, if not to say its ethical
Nd: It certainly illustrates the extreme, existential challenge that freedom and democracy impose onto their
followers. If there is, however, one positive element in this otherwise sad story, it is the fact that it is due to
freedom and democracy itself that the aforementioned wrongdoing has been uncovered and that there is now a
slight hope that things will quieten down for some time to come.
AE: That seems a pretty extravagant hope to us. Isn’t it, to the contrary, more likely that the increased competition
which you have diagnosed above will bread ever more recklessness on the part of market participants? And isn’t
equally true, that politicians and law enforcement officials stand next to no chance to put a stop on this deplorable
Nd: Of course, it is quite possible that your prediction will come true. But does that mean that we should give up
hope altogether? Should we simply surrender and throw away our liberties and our right to self-determination just
because it seems awfully difficult to manage such freedom adequately?
AE: Why not?
Nd: Because adopting such an approach would be very much like killing yourself just because you are afraid to
die. No, if we want to live up to the existential challenge that freedom imposes onto us we have to find the
courage to keep our hope alive even if it, at times, seems far-fetched to believe that such hope might eventually
vindicate itself. After all, this is the lesson that Holocaust survivors are teaching us to this day. So, it seems to us
as if it is our ultimate duty to keep our self-esteem alive even if the circumstances appear to suggest otherwise.
AE: Would it not be better to reign in the freedom beast rather than defending it as you so elaborately do on this
Nd: Well, we are reigning it in by conducting hearings as the one we are talking about here.
AE: But is it enough?
Nd: Well, we have to hope so, haven’t we? After all, hope is all we have.
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phone hacking scandal, News Corp, Rupert and James Murdoch, Culture and Media Select Committee,
tabloid newspapers, Louise Mensch, Piers Morgan, investigative journalism, business culture on Fleet
Street, illicit methods in journalism, committee hearing