Bankers were thrust unwillingly into the role of national pariah by the 2008 banking collapse and have been forced to endure three years of ill-informed judgments about their salaries from people who can barely add up their score in darts, punctuated with hysterical media demands that the government ‘do something’. Many have had to resort to smart-casual clothing guidelines issued by their employers as a disguise to avoid being spat on for wearing a pin-striped suit which has led to a sharp rise in sales of polo shirts, chinos and deck shoes.
Following the News of the World phone hacking scandal, journalists have been passed the baton of pariahdom and are currently trying to work out what to do with it. Broadsheet journalists were quick to distance themselves from their tabloid cousins and the Guardian in particular, having been the outers of the NOTW, is positively aglow with self-satisfaction. Well, more than it usually is anyway. When it was only celebrities having their private phone messages used as headline fodder, the British public lapped it up in a guiltily prurient way. As soon as the news emerged that actual real life people had been victims too, Moral Outrage kicked in and everyone denied ever buying the NOTW, despite its previous position as the country’s best-selling newspaper.
In fact, it seems that it would be hard to find someone who wasn’t phone hacked as each day produces a newer and ghastlier incident than yesterday. After showing an interest rating of perhaps 0.001 on a scale of 1-10 in phone hacking, the United States have also broken out in Moral Outrage when they discovered that families of 9/11 victims may have had their privacy breached. Given that the US government routinely snoops on the private communications of its citizens, this wouldn’t appear to be unusual but perhaps it’s different if someone else does it.
Rupert Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB has unsurprisingly died on its arse. After desperately trying to avoid the Competition Commission, News Corporation must have realised that after the phone hacking allegations were revealed, even David Cameron wouldn’t be able to wave the takeover deal through and suddenly wanted to become BFF with them. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is doubtless pleased to have been able to drop that particular political hot potato though he will be forever renamed in people’s minds thanks to a series of gaffes (not Spoonerisms).
The only question that remains is who will write indignant articles about bankers’ bonuses when the journalists are all busy writing about each other.