Mick Hume points out that the recent threat of police cracking down on the press — the Guardian in particular — was illiberal and unjustified, yet quite in line with what the Guardian had encouraged be done to Murdoch’s media empire.
It was, as all liberal-minded people (and Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail) agreed, an egregious assault on press freedom for the Metropolitan Police to threaten legal action to force the Guardian to reveal its sources. So there was much celebration and not a little smug satisfaction in media circles when the Met, under pressure from within and without the legal system, dropped the action last week.
Where, the Guardian editors and their outraged high-level supporters demanded, did the Met ever get the ‘ill-judged’, ‘misconceived’ and ‘perverse in the extreme’ idea that they could order the Guardian to tell them who leaked details of Operation Weeting, the phone-hacking investigation?
It’s a good question. Where on earth could Inspector Censor and PC Prodnose have got the notion that it was their business to investigate, arrest and prosecute journalists, or interfere with the operations of a free press? Step forward the moral crusaders at of the Guardian and its allies.
For years they have been demanding more police and legal action against the Murdoch press and those allegedly involved in phone-hacking, inviting the authorities to police the media more closely. Then these illiberal liberals throw their arms up in horror when the authorities try to take advantage of their invitation to investigate the high-minded ‘good guys’ at the Guardian as well as the lowlife at the defunct News of the World. Their naivety is only exceeded by their elitism. Give the state a licence to interfere with the press, and you should not be surprised if it tries to exploit it — even if today’s spineless state officials ultimately lacked the gumption to take on the Guardian.