I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Tickled To Death

Tickled To Death

Enda O’Doherty
Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain, by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman, Allen Lane, 360 pp, £14.99, ISBN: 978-1846146046 Tickle the public, make ’em grin, The more you tickle, the more you win; Teach the public, you’ll never get rich, You’ll live like a beggar and die in a ditch. In April 1983 the distinguished historian Hugh Trevor Roper (Lord Dacre) flew to Switzerland to examine what Stern magazine claimed were Hitler’s lost diaries (Hitler-Tagebücher), allegedly part of a large consignment of documents recovered from the wreckage of an aircraft that crashed near Dresden in April 1945. Trevor Roper, who was acting on behalf of the Times newspaper group, of which he was a director, was not given a great deal of time to examine the diaries yet he concluded quite unambiguously: “I am now satisfied that the documents are authentic; that the history of their wanderings since 1945 is true; and that the standard accounts of Hitler’s writing habits, of his personality and, even, perhaps, of some public events, may in consequence have to be revised.” Almost immediately, however, he began to have second thoughts and anxiously conveyed his concern to Frank Giles, the editor of the Sunday Times, which was about to publish extracts. Giles informed the newspaper’s proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, of the historian’s growing doubt about the documents’ origins. Murdoch famously responded: “Fuck Dacre. Publish.” Later, when the diaries were conclusively proven to be forgeries, he was entirely unrepentant: “After all,” he observed, “we are in the entertainment business.” The periodical newspaper, in something like the form in which we know it today, began to emerge in Europe during the early modern period, notably in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. “News”, or something very like it, had indeed appeared before, though published in book form and often quite long after the events described. There were also many bulletins (in France called occasionels if they were from the court or bureaucracy and canards or lardons if unofficial, polemical or scurrilous), but the seventeenth century saw a proliferation of publications that aspired to be offer more contemporaneous accounts of events, appearing under such titles as coranto or courant, diurnall, mercury and intelligencer. The turbulent period from 1640 to 1660 in England saw the emergence of a huge number of new periodicals, distinguished, in the words of media historian Anthony Smith, by their “rollicking intemperateness” and sheer profusion and variety. There was, of course,…



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