A Toast for the Scumbags

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Everyone of em that I know:


Britain was awash in a new surge of outrage over the phone hacking scandal on Thursday as news emerged that Scotland Yard had added to the list of probable victims a woman whose 8-year-old daughter was murdered by a repeat sex offender in 2000.The tabloid at the center of the scandal, The News of the World, aggressively championed the campaign of the grieving mother, Sara Payne, for a law warning parents if child sex offenders lived nearby. 

Mrs. Payne had written warmly of the paper in its final issue, calling it "an old friend." A statement released on behalf of Mrs. Payne by the Phoenix Foundation, a children's charity she founded, described her as devastated and disappointed. "Today is a very sad dark day for us," the charity added in a posting on Facebook. "Our faith in good people has taken a real battering." 

Other postings noted that she was struggling in light of the July 1 anniversary of her daughter's abduction and from the effects of a stroke she suffered 19 months ago, which paralyzed her left side. 

The Guardian was the first to report Scotland Yard's alert to Mrs. Payne, but the e-mail newsletter Popbitch suggested earlier this month that Mrs. Payne's voice mail had been hacked and that the phone in question might have been provided to her by Rebekah Brooks, then the editor of The News of the World. 

In a statement, Ms. Brooks confirmed that The News of the World had provided Mrs. Payne with a cellphone "for the last 11 years" as part of the campaign for the law, but said that "it was not a personal gift." She said that she found the allegations that Mrs. Payne's voice mail had been hacked "abhorrent and particularly upsetting, as Sara Payne is a dear friend." 

In recent testimony on the scandal in Parliament, Ms. Brooks cited the measure named after Mrs. Payne's daughter, Sarah's Law, as evidence of the good she had done in her years at the tabloid's helm.

At some point you just have to say that, conservatively, a portion of Rupert Murdoch's empire was a criminal enterprise. Always remember that other portions of that empire have repeatedly suggested that this isn't a story and the world should move on.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/a-toast-for-the-scumbags/242748/