Was absent from the House of Commons today (for entirely unalarming personal reasons). So missed the 'high temperature outrage' which led to agreement that the Standards and Privileges Committee should hold an inquiry into 'phone hacking' by the media. All I've actually seen was Tom Harris and Kelvin Mackenzie sparring on Newsnight. I really dislike the smugly arrogant cockiness of Mackenzie, but he was making some reasonable points. Personally, I find it difficult to generate great excitement over this issue. OK, so I don't think journalists should be 'phone hacking', or breaking the law, and if they are caught, should pay the price. And I would have voted in favour of the inquiry. But the outrage is being overdone. I have not met a single person (outside 'the bubble') who cares.
Anyway, I just do not think people believe what they read, or at least they take it with a huge handful of salt. And I speak as one who knows what its like to be on the wrong end of a media witch hunt. I've read stuff in newspapers about myself (all inspired by politicians, which it usually is) which was deliberately aimed at giving an entirely misleading opinion of me. At the time, I maintained a cheerful 'facade', but decades later, I'm willing to admit that it brought me to a pretty low ebb. I decided not to bother defending myself, knowing that as a former quango chairman, I would not be believed. I just said nothing, preferring to not read newspapers, or watch and listen to news programmes. And do you know what? A few months later, everyone had moved on. I was the only person still festering over it. Mind you, there are one or two who will never be forgiven.
But back to today's sputtering 'outrage'. I reckon that most people outside the political village will not give a monkey's. The media is not as powerful as it thinks. It's only power is rooted in, and fed by the attention we give it. I enjoy reading newspapers, and Dan Brown books - and attach about the same degree of credence to both. Its like the BBC maintaining that it's politically balanced. Personally, I think that the BBC is well left of centre. But I know that, allow for it, and still love it anyway. This inquiry will produce a lot of heat and noise, will excite the village people, and in the longer term will make very little difference.