tv [untitled] May 16, 2012 2:30am-3:00am EDT
sun" was. they'd made it abundantly clear. he didn't have to speak to mr. purchase dak, he could pick up a copy of "the times." >> pick up a copy of any of the papers around the world. >> yes, yes. >> yeah. no, i can see why you ask that. but i think that -- it is important as well to remember that -- we're looking at this now. you're asking me to -- people are making -- it's odd that i don't remember something i've written about, but i just don't. for me as well, there was so much else going on at that time. but it doesn't strike me as that odd. not least because by then, i think it's fair to say tony blair had very few strong supporters in the media left. and so whether one of these calls came from him to -- i have no idea. i have no idea. whether one of them was actually about placing the call, i don't know. i don't know. >> well, there's a limit to how
far we can go with it and i recognize that. but i read into what you're saying to me that i should not read too much into the fact that the worthiest cause, notwithstanding the pressure on the prime minister's time and all the other pressures he's facing. >> yeah because even at times like this, he would have spoken to all sorts of people. and i think it's -- no, i wouldn't -- i wouldn't read too much into it, to be honest with you. and i know that one of your previous witnesses has said that, you know, without rupert murdoch's support we couldn't have done the iraq war. complete nonsense. tony blair believed in what we were doing and the government supported what was being done and so did parliament. and that was way, way, way more important than any newspaper support.
>> all right. that's probably convenient then to take just a break. >> all rise. >> i think you want to correct something you said in relation to the five pledges in the labor party -- >> yeah, five pledges, i checked, it was not. but it was announced before the article. >> okay. i have 53 of your statements. the back door point. you say, there tends to be a media presence in downing street most of the time. there's no particular need or desire to advertise a meeting. makes sense to avoid the front door. but not transparent, that, some
would say. >> i'd accept that. >> then you say, slightly tongue in cheek, partly our thinking was for the rest of the media, murdoch was uniquely newer ral jurisdiction. >> it's not tongue in cheek, it's what we thought. rue better murdoch went into the building, you started a whole flurry of what's he doing there, what are they talking about? i made the point when i left in 2003, whenever i went back, i tended to go in the same door. it's just a way of avoiding attention, i guess. but i take your point. >> do you think there's something about the fact that we now make it -- we, the government, now make their links with senior proprietors much clearer, that you're going to get rather more concerned that some proprietors get rather more access than others, and that's not fair? >> i would hope that what comes
out of all this is not just a greater openness and transparency that you were talking about this morning. but also perhaps a greater distance in between the two sets of people. now, i think, as i say in my statement, i think there is a real public interest in politics and other walks of life, having relationships with the media that allow them to debate, be challenged, so forth. but i think we could get to a situation where there wasn't this sense of it being rips that get -- that just get mangled. the political, the personal, the commercial. i can see why you might think they're all just interwoven. >> well, it's a topic i would certainly welcome your view on. but we'll let mr. jay take his own course. then if it's not covered we'll come back to it. >> so there's one further point
that is a footnote to page 634 in one of your diaries. you describe him as rupert murdoch's economic guru, often described as rupert's representative on earth. the second point i'm sure is flippant. the first point, murdoch's economic guru. you were making a serious point there, weren't you, mr. campbell? >> i promise it's not passing it off. i didn't write all the footnotes. i think he was an economic adviser. guru, one of those words. but you know, he was close to him. he was close to him. still is, i think. >> when mr. murdoch was not around and someone was talking to mr. stilt, is there a sense you were talking to mr. murdoch in some way? >> no, i wouldn't say that. i wouldn't say that. he wasn't, as it were, a spokesman. so no, i wouldn't know that.
>> tell us about mrs. brooks. obviously we've seen recently -- you say in your statement that you attended i think both her weddings -- >> no, it's only the reception of the first, the wedding of the second. and just on the first one, i was, as it were, independently friendly with the husband. >> would you describe it as a friendship or a relationship born out of circumstances? >> i think it's difficult, once you're at a certain level in politics -- in fact, again, in one of these books, tony blair and i have a discussion about this -- i think it's difficult to develop friendships with people from any walk of life, where they might feel they can get something from you. i think we were friendly, very
friendly, and i liked rebekah. but i think friendship overstates it. most of the friends i have are journalists and people i used to work with when i was a journalist. but i liked her and obviously because of my job and her job, we spoke a lot. >> many people have observed and some witnesses have said these a consummate networker. is that something -- >> yeah. and i think she would see that as part of her job. >> in the late 1990s, did you assess that her star, as it were, was clearly in the ascendancy, and therefore it was important that mr. blair and the labor government become close to her? >> no, not particularly. i think she was obviously very bright. you always had a -- i had a sense very early on rupert murdoch really liked her. and i think within the rupert
murdoch setup, you know, there's that sense of, as it were, bestowing his favor upon. and i think rebekah was a rising star. and i think we would have ensured that tony blair, as i say in my statement, right across the piece of all the media type, not just news international, that over time he would see most of the key people. i think that's what we did. >> on paragraph 64 of her statement she referred to being almost a constant presence in and around mr. blair's senior cabinet ministers and special advisers. would you agree with that assessment? >> i mean, look. even in all the papers, the prime minister and the government are probably the most covered people, even in the tabloids. so in a sense, what i would say is we were a constant part of
her life, everybody else's life. i wouldn't overstate that. and it's -- no, i think that's -- i think that does overstate it. >> in terms of your mobile phone contact with her, we know mr. blair didn't have a mobile phone. about how often a week was it? >> that i would speak to rebekah? >> yes. >> when she was editor? some weeks none, some weeks every day. it would depend -- really would depend what was happening in the news agenda. average, probably once or twice. >> if she wanted personal access to either mr. blair or a senior cabinet minister, did she tend to organize that through you or not? >> cabinet ministers i can't speak for. in terms of tony blair, probably through me or angie hunter or sally morgan or one of the people around the prime minister. >> did she manipulate the increasingly fractious relationship between mr. brown and mr. blair?
>> i don't think so, no. in fact, i think she was -- i mean, it was a very difficult part of my job. the fact that the press were writing about the difficulties in that relationship all of the time and i was having to be out there as an advocate for the government, explaining what we were trying to, do focusing on the important things, so forth. no, i don't think she did. i think -- i knew she spoke to gordon and the people who worked for him and perhaps they sometimes said things to her that they wouldn't have said to us. >> was she increasingly seen as having influence over mr. murdoch? >> i think i -- my sense always was the most influential person in terms of influence upon murdoch was rupert murdoch. was she increasingly important in the organization? yes. >> were ministers afraid of her?
>> i don't -- i'd say ththey sh have been. >> do you think they were? >> i don't think so. one of the reasons why, even though it's fairs to i think i'm somewhat png at national now, rebekah was always very, very straightforward to deal with. there were a number of stories i dealt with her, very difficult for individual ministers. robin cook was one. steven buyers was another. where she was always -- we had a sense of, i had a job to do, she had a job to do, but we could be straight with each other. >> was "the sun" ever fed stories by you? >> yeah. so were other papers. i would say we were one of the prime sources for every media organization in the country.
>> so it wasn't a question of prioritizing "the sun," you feel, it was just part of your job to -- >> well, look. most -- we made a lot of changes from 1997, the biggest of which was putting the briefings on the record. most of my contact with the media was on the record-briefing. every single paper thought we favored other papers. "the mirror" thought we favored "the sun," "the sun," thought we favored "the mirror," "the telegraph" thought we favored "the times." you wouldn't win, really. >> in terms of "the mirror," at least 60 meetings he had with mr. blair. when mr. blair was prime minister. and you were often present at those meetings. would that be right? >> it might be. i think piers would also accept some of those would be receptions and what does that work out? six a year? is that a lot?
piers was the editor of the one labor supporting newspaper. there was an annual lunch that we had at the labor party conference. but certainly i would be present at some of the -- most of those meetings, probably. >> obviously they were on-site. save of course in relation to the iraq war when mr. morgan in particular was hostile. was it a question of enabling "the mirror" to put the best possible gloss on stories? >> this whole thing about spin is overcome. the public aren't stupid. most of the presence of the prime minister in people's lives would be what they saw on the television. and when they saw him on the news and the house of commons. and so most of the discussions i would have had with piers would actually -- i mean, certainly during the iraq war, we had a fairly fundamental disagreement.
and other situations, he would be and was often angry because he thought we favored "the sun," just as "the sun" sometimes thought we favored "the mirror." he was an editor, i was the prime minister's director of communications and strategy. it was, you know, an up and down but pretty good relationship. >> paragraph 46 of your statement, you deal with contacts with other parties as well. interestingly, you recall that. the middle of 46, page 00821. which his wife complained express newspapers intruded on their privacy. >> as i say, an irony lost on all but her and her husband.
>> i'm sure this is an example of genuine amnesia. but i'm not suggesting for one moment that you might be misleading us. but anyway. paragraph 26, please. >> 26? >> 26 now. moving away from proprietors. moving to the more general. let me just ask a question about them. there's obviously much, much more contact, understandable between proprietors and senior editors with very senior government ministers and people such as yourself. than there would be for other interest groups. is there a risk, do you think,
that that access can indeed work the other way so that therefore, there is a risk, which has to be guarded against -- i'm not saying it can't be guarded against -- that their particular interests, and that could be commercial or personal, by which i mean the paper, or it could be that which they are campaigning -- achieves a greater prominence than would be achieved by somebody in a quite different situation who doesn't have the same sort of access? approximate absolutely. i totally accept that. >> is that a problem? >> yeah, i think it is a problem. i think it means that the interests of one section of the
national makeup does have greater access than others who probably should have just as good access to government. so i think that the fact of businesses owning media does give them a disproportionate access. i don't ca i don't think that's the same thing as power but i think that gives them disproportionate access. >> once you've got disproportionate access, the risk is -- >> yeah. >> -- that the influence is that much more potent. >> i agree with that. >> now, using your experience, both as a journalist and as somebody who's worked in government and the rather higher grade view you've been able to take of life since you ceased, how can that be fixed?
>> i think openness is an important thing. and transparency. so when mr. jay said it's a bit odd they come through the back door, i think that's right. i think that -- i think i'm right in saying that, for example, the american president's diary is published. so that people can see what he's doing with his time. but i do think that it has to be -- it can only be fixed -- i say this when i address the point in my statement -- i think it can only be fixed if both sides of this acknowledge the problem is not just the other side. there is a tendency for those of us, if you like, on the political side to say, it's all your fault. there's an even stronger tendency on this side to say, it's all your fault. i think we can get beyond that. we're not going to get anywhere.
so openness, a greater explanation i think from the -- see, i think the politicians have done a very, very bad job in standing up for themselves in terms what was their legitimate role is, what their legitimate functions are, how they have to engage with the media because if they don't, they're going to get blown away. so there's got to be a proper reckoning of each other's power and each other's status. and i think that where we've got to is a position where some elements of the media kindly think they're above politics. and they're even even above the law. >> it's the point -- slightly different, though. i suggest to you it might be possible to articulate it slightly differently by saying this. that if the story's big enough, the rules don't count. >> again, anything to get a story. >> well, it's actually not quite -- >> a lot of the phone hacking
stuff wasn't about big stories at all. >> i agree with that. and i'm not actually talking about what might be criminal. i'm talking about a slightly different idea. possibly i'm borrowing mr. morgan's phrase. i'm taking it out of context. let me start again. let me say this. we, the press, are not necessarily bound by the same rules that govern other behavior. approximate extension of that, going back to what we were talking about a moment earlier, the sense that they don't think anything will happen to them as a result of going beyond those boundaries. because the political class, the police as we've seen, and other parts of our national life,
don't treat them in the same way as they treat other organizations and people. and i think that's the bit we need to talk about fixing, that has to be fixed. >> let me add one other element to it. because i am going to ask you about fixing it. the other element is that whereas the press will look to hold col pigss to account, they'll look to help educational authorities, the judiciary to account, with rare exceptions, nobody is holding what they are doing to account. >> correct. correct. and i've addressed that in parts and when we get on to the future -- >> yes, yes. >> but i think that is the point. they sit in judgment on and expect openness and transparency
from every other part of our national life, apart from themselves. and that's i think why they're in the mess they're in. >> we have moved on. before you left the proprietors i wanted to elicit your view and i've got it. >> right. >> i know you dealt with this first in your statement, the concept of newspapers and power that i was seeking to bring the strands together at the end of this little section of your evidence. paragraph 26008 and 9. >> yep. >> paragraph 26 in terms of daniel easily statement of your view. what about the thesis that we've had advanced by mrs. brooks, mr. day, various others, newspapers simply derive their power from their readers. do you agree with that or not? >> no. >> why not? >> partly they do.
but for example, some of the smallest papers are the most influential. i think within any newspaper can at a certain point pick up a campaign, provided they do it in a professional and sophisticated way, they can make that campaign work. so i don't think it's just a question of circulation. and also, i think that the newspaper editors make huge assumptions about their readers. and describe them almost as a homogeneous block. when rebekah talked about following their readers in shifting from supporting labor to supporting conservatives, or back the other way, the idea their readers are sitting there, moving in the same direction at the same pace, is nonsense. they've made that decision. then through their coverage they
try to lead their readers in the same direction. >> i think perhaps in response to a question i asked, mrs. brooks accepted there was an element of leadership there. >> yeah. yeah. so -- and they're very good at marketing themselves. "the daily mail" presents itself as the voice of middle england. "the sun" presents itself as the voice of the kind of white working class man. "the guardian," the liberal intel gent yeah. that's the perfect thing for them to do. but i don't think that's in a sense where what you call their power necessarily comes from. i think it's a useful thing for them to say. i'm not sure it's necessarily right. >> a reader wouldn't of course necessarily have a view on a particular issue, especially of some complexity, until the agenda's set to describe, at
which point opinion's moving in the direction the paper's taken. looking at paragraph 26. you say, your own assessment, this is three lines down, is they have more influence on the terms of the debate than actual power to dictate policy. >> yeah. >> so the determine terms of the debate were into areas such as the culture of negativity and matters you've outlined elsewhere. >> it's also what's important. i mean, a news bulletin running order is a set of decisions that are made by executives. if a -- at the moment, pornography on the internet, for example. "the daily mail," very involved in a campaign. perfectly legitimate, serious issue.
is that more likely to make the politicians think that they might look at it, try to address it? yes. is there anything wrong with that? no. but that's what i mean by the terms of the day. i don't think they will necessarily then decide the policy. but i think in terms of where the debate is, what is deemed to be important. i say elsewhere in my statement, for example, the fact that issues like industrial action are almost always covered from disruption. the welfare debate. that's what i mean by setting the terms of a debate. >> although the terms of the debate having been set, the political response which is policy, may reflect on that, may it not? >> sorry? what do you mean by that? >> if the newspapers have set the -- >> yeah. >> then the political response, which is the setting of policy,
may have been determined by the terms of the debate. would you agree? >> it might have been, but not if the policy-making processes are working properly. in other words, you can get -- i think it's always important to differentiate between a media-driven campaign on something which they say is important, which they say needs addressing, then whether in reality it does when all the other issues are there. i think it is important to accept -- i think this goes for david cameron, gordon brown, tony blair -- that the amount of time and energy that they, not just the people who work for them, but they as prime ministers have to devote and dedicate to kind of dealing with what are ultimately media management issues. it's grown. it's grown and it's growing because of the way the media has developed. i think that's a problem too. >> then you continue, they only have power if politicians let them have power. >> yeah. >> by which of course you mean
it is within the gift of politicians to prevent press having power. but that might of course have obvious ramifications for free press. it also presupposes politicians are not going to yield to the obvious influences and powers which might intrude on their decision-making. would you agree with that? >> well, i think a lot of this started under margaret thatcher. i think that newspapers were given a sense of power. the numbers that we see, the peerages and the knighthoods and the sense they were almost part of her team. i think it changed under john major. i think when we were in power, i think that we -- i think we maybe did give the media too much of a sense of their own place within the political firm at. when we should have challenged it more. >> talking about the conferment
of power, one of the reasons why the newspapers have such power is the good reason you've identified, namely free press, i understand that. but the bad reasons, and you list three of those at the end of paragraph 26, you refer to the patronage system. the evidence on that you set out. but then the second and the third aspects. the privileged access governments of both colored allowed, the point lord leveson made, the reasons politicians allowed press to have power. is that right? >> yes. >> the efforts made to win media support. which is again another aspect of the same phenomenon, isn't it? >> yeah. i think we might disagree on the word power. because as i say, ultimately the politicians do have the power. i think all three there are factors within this that have led to a change that is probably unhealthy.