Cameron tried to send love to Murdoch editor: FAIL!

I haven’t kept up with the details of the Leveson inquiry into the British press. But I sometimes see headlines of something really shocking, and sometimes of something really stupid. But today’s news takes the biscuit: something potentially shocking but also so hilariously stupid that no one will take it as seriously as they perhaps should.

Rebekah BrooksToday at the inquiry, as the BBC reports, it was the turn to give evidence of Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the Murdoch newspapers the News of the World and the Sun, and then Chief Executive of  Rupert Murdoch’s company News International until she was forced to resign in 2011.

It has long been known that Rebekah is a personal friend of Prime Minister David Cameron. So it is hardly surprising that they exchanged regular text messages, although she has called allegations that he texted her 12 times a day while opposition leader “preposterous”.

But what really seems preposterous is this part of Rebekah’s evidence:

She said the prime minister signed off most texts with the letters DC but occasionally used the acronym LOL.

But she said he stopped this when he learnt the text shorthand stood for “laugh out loud” not “lots of love”.

In other words, David Cameron, a married man, was in the habit of trying to send “lots of love” to this woman friend, but he in fact completely failed to do so! I’m not sure which is more concerning, that he would have this kind of relationship with a newspaper editor, or that he would be so incompetent at expressing his love. I’m sure Rebekah indeed laughed out loud when she found out what was happening.

I hope these revelations don’t cause difficulties between David and Samantha Cameron or between Rebekah and her husband Charlie Brooks. But I would be pleased if they signal the end of the far too cosy relationship between the British government and the Murdoch controlled press.

Murdoch company accused of killing old woman

Rupert Murdoch is in enough trouble here in the UK, mainly with the phone hacking scandals involving his newspapers. But I don’t think any of his UK companies have been accused of causing anyone’s death.

Hallie Jean Mayes Knauss CulpepperBut that cannot be said about his American companies. The US news channel Fox News, which he owns, has now been directly implicated in the death of an old woman, by inciting her to reject the medical treatment which she needed – as reported by Karoli at Crooks and Liars and by Fred Clark at Slacktivist (thanks to James McGrath for the latter link). The old lady’s daughter wrote:

FOX News killed my precious mother, Hallie. She watched FOX religiously. And when she fell ten days before she died, she refused to go to the doctor because, “I don’t want Obamacare to get all of my information! she declared …

It seems that this old lady believed many of the deliberate lies which were being put forward by the Fox News anchor, lies directed at President Obama and at his health care policy. She appears to have thought that if she had accepted medical care, following her fall, her medical information and her money would have been sent to Islamic extremists. This is of course completely false, but a reasonable deduction from the lies told by Fox News.

Like Fred Clark, “I wouldn’t say Fox News is directly responsible for this woman’s death”. But, assuming that the facts as reported are accurate, I would suggest that the Fox campaign of disinformation about Obama and his policies gives them a measure of responsibility, in this case and in any other similar ones.

And, just as Rupert Murdoch should accept personal responsibility for the phone hacking at the News of the World, and probably at other newspapers he owns, he should also accept personal responsibility for all of the consequences of the lies told by Fox News.

Tea Party fulfils Wilkerson economic meltdown prophecy

David WilkersonIn March I wrote here about some of David Wilkerson’s prophecies, including this one from 2009:


There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. …

In comments on that post I was pointed to another prophetic message by Wilkerson, for which I do not have a date but it seems to be quite recent (but before Wilkerson’s death in April): Here is part of that message:

It’s about to happen—very soon, one nation, and I’m speaking prophetically–if I’ve ever heard anything from God in my life, I heard it … Very soon a European or North African or Eastern nation is going to default on its international loan and when that happens, within two weeks, Mexico is going to default. …

And when the banks open the next day at 9 in the morning, $15 billion an hour is going to be withdrawn from our American banks -they’re going to be running our banks—the Arabs—all the Latin American countries, they’re going to be running our banks–and before the day is over, the USA is going to have to declare a “bank holiday.”


And we’re going into six months of the worst hell America has ever seen—there’s going to be chaos—not even the National Guard’s going to be able to quiet it down—we’re going to have to call out the whole U.S. Army. …

There’s going to be fear like we’ve never known—judgment at the door. When I was at Macy’s Dept. store in a vision and I watched people walking around stunned, they didn’t know what to do, they didn’t know what was happening; then a bunch of people walked into Macy’s and suddenly went wild and began to steal and within an hour everybody—I saw the spirit of everybody in the store—they were robbing and stealing—they raped Macy’s and destroyed five floors—Macy’s was raped and ruined in a period of an hour or two.

That’s just the beginning. Folks it’s all in this book (the bible) —we’ve been warned and warned and warned—you can’t tell me God hasn’t warned us. …

As I wrote in a comment about this message, much of this looks like an economic prediction rather than a prophecy. Indeed it looks remarkably like the completely non-prophetic message from Will Hutton in today’s issue of UK newspaper The Observer, also published on The Guardian’s website (The Observer is in effect the Sunday edition of The Guardian). Hutton even puts a specific date on his prediction: this Friday, 22nd July:

For months, Republicans have used their new majority in the House of Representatives to block any move to lift the artificial cap on the amount the US government can borrow. If by this Friday they still refuse – insisting on up to $4trillion of spending cuts, excluding defence, and no tax increases as the price of their support – then the US will be unable to service its public debts. The biggest economy on Earth will default.

The results will be catastrophic, argues JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon – a warning repeated by Obama. The US government will have to start to wind down: soldiers’ wages and public pensions alike will be suspended. But in the financial markets there will be mayhem. Interest rates will shoot up and there will be a flight from the dollar. Banks, uncertain about their expected income from their holdings of US Treasury bonds and bills, will call in their loans, creating a second credit crunch. Some may collapse. …

The main difference here is that Hutton names the USA as the first nation to default on its debts. His language is not quite as apocalyptic as Wilkerson’s, but this kind of economic meltdown will surely lead to widespread looting.

Hutton puts the blame for this partly on Rupert Murdoch, currently a convenient whipping boy for rival newspapers, and partly on the intransigence of the right-wing Republicans of the Tea Party, who he describes as follows:

These are politicians who in some respects have more in common with Islamic religious fundamentalists than the Enlightenment tradition which gave birth to western democracy. The Tea Party sees neither virtue nor integrity in any position but their own. … They have been sent by God and their electors to bring down Washington.

Yes, Scott, even in the USA there are people, elected politicians, who reject the Enlightenment tradition. But I wouldn’t disagree if you called this lot “delusional”.

Do some of these Tea Party fundamentalists actually want to provoke the kind of economic meltdown which Wilkerson prophesied and Hutton predicts? Do they think that by doing so they can provoke Jesus into coming again? But if so, have they considered the human cost of this? Have they even realised the effect it would have on their own prized prosperity? Whatever their rhetoric might be, few of them are really ready to live off the land.

Politicians of the USA, if you know what love is, back down from your threats and agree a reasonable budget. And if you don’t know what love is, whichever side of this dispute you may be on, you should drop the claims so many of you make to be Christians.

Thanks to Shoq as retweeted by Joel Watts for the link to Hutton’s article.

Is Rick Warren still Rupert Murdoch's pastor?

Rupert MurdochRick WarrenA few years ago a story was going around, for example as reported by Richard Bartholomew, that the megachurch pastor and best-selling Christian author Rick Warren claimed that he was the pastor of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. This was based on a quote from a 2007 story at WorldNetDaily:

In the New Yorker interview published in September 2005, Warren is quoted as saying: “I had dinner with Jack Welch (former chief executive officer of GE) last Sunday night. … And he said to me, ‘Rick, you the biggest thinker I have ever met in my life. The only other person I know who thinks globally like you is Rupert Murdoch.’ And I said, ‘That’s interesting. I’m Rupert’s pastor! Rupert published my book!’”

In fact WorldNetDaily starts the same story with a denial of the most obvious interpretation of Warren’s words:

Rick Warren Chief of Staff David Chrzan wrote to me last week to say WorldNetDaily made “some errors in definition, assumption and application” in our news story about the mega-pastor’s relationship with Rupert Murdoch.

“First, the story is based on the assertion that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., is a member of Saddleback Church, which is not correct,” writes Chrzan. “In fact, he doesn’t even live in Orange County, CA, and has never attended a service here.”

Nevertheless it does seem that in some sense Warren considered himself, in 2005, to have some kind of spiritual responsibility for Murdoch. Warren has also sold at least 30 million copies of his book The Purpose Driven Life, published by Zondervan which is owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation. Warren has profited from his book sales enough to be able to return 25 years of his salary to his church. No doubt Murdoch’s corporation has also made a good profit from Warren’s books.

In 2007 Batholomew and others like Chris Rosebrough called Warren out for failing to discipline Murdoch over his ownership of pornographic TV channels, and suggested that he might have kept quiet because of the publishing relationship between the two.

In view of the latest scandals relating to Murdoch and his newspapers, likened by Ruth Gledhill to the Augean Stables, should there be renewed calls for Warren to discipline Murdoch?

Well, first we would need to ascertain that there is a continuing pastoral relationship between Warren and Murdoch. I have found no evidence of this more recent than 2005. It may well have terminated in the intervening years. Indeed it is quite probable that Warren did indeed attempt to discipline Murdoch about the pornography channels, in private as would have been proper, and at that time Murdoch repudiated Warren as his pastor. But in this case it would be helpful for Warren to clarify publicly that what he said in 2005 is no longer true.

If there is in fact a continuing pastoral relationship, I would indeed expect Warren to discuss the current scandal with Murdoch. But he should do so privately, initially, according to the clear teaching of Jesus (Matthew 18:15-16). As Murdoch is not a church member, the biblical next step of bringing the matter to the church cannot apply. It would be appropriate, if the matter cannot be resolved, for Warren to terminate the pastoral relationship and to announce this publicly. But this should be the end point of a possibly prolonged process of clarifying how far Murdoch’s business practices are compatible with whatever kind of Christian faith he may profess.

Of course there might well be legal reasons, part of Warren’s publishing contract, preventing him from making public statements about Murdoch, similar to what may have kept Wayne Grudem from commenting on the NIV 2011 update. On the other hand, it would hardly be in Murdoch’s interests to terminate such a lucrative publishing contract.

Please note that I intend here no criticism of my friends at Zondervan, who, like Ruth Gledhill, are innocent people caught up in a scandal for which they bear no responsibility.

Thanks to Phil Groom, @notbovvered on Twitter, for reminding me of this story.

Ruth Gledhill on cleaning the Augean Stables

Ruth GledhillRuth Gledhill, Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Times, used to be one of my favourite bloggers. That is, until her blog, along with most other content at The Times, was put behind a paywall. That was reportedly at the insistence of the newspaper’s owners, News International, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. As the BBC reported last year, before the change,

NI chief executive Rebekah Brooks said it was “a crucial step towards making the business of news an economically exciting proposition”. …

Mrs Brooks said the decision to charge came “at a defining moment for journalism… We are proud of our journalism and unashamed to say that we believe it has value”.

Rebekah Brooks? We have heard that name again recently. Is she still proud of “our journalism”?

But back to Ruth Gledhill: she has now started her own personal blog, with an interesting name for someone who I think calls herself a Christian, Goddess of Small Things. She writes that this blog

will be a place for reflections on life as a working mum, as a parent of a chorister, as a breeder of Ragdoll cats, as an Anglican churchgoer, as a photographer of flowers, as a singer and classical guitar player.

But her latest post goes well beyond these subjects to reflect on her life as a journalist at a Murdoch newspaper, as she writes about Milly Dowler? Soham? Dead Soldiers? She reflects movingly on her personal dilemmas as an innocent employee of a company that has been accused of some shocking criminal activities. But I can’t help wondering whether she will get in trouble with her employers for other parts of what she has written:

How could they?


How could WE.

I am a journalist. I work for News International. I am on Twitter. I read The Guardian. I know what is being said. …

The shame. The terrible shame.

She goes on to suggest that the News of the World should print on its front page the Church of England’s General Confession, including

We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable.

And she concludes:

I can’t forget about Milly Dowler. Soham. The dead soldiers.

I don’t want to forget. I will never forget.

The Augean stables are being cleaned at last. Bring on the tsunami.

Indeed. And it seems that the cleansing tsunami will sweep away the News of the World. Breaking news from the BBC:

Breaking newsNews of the World to close amid hacking scandal

This Sunday’s issue of the News of the World will be the last edition of the paper, News International chairman James Murdoch has said.

I look forward to seeing what kind of confession they will put on their final front page.

UPDATE a few minutes later: I posted this quickly to get the breaking news out. But there is a bit more I want to say. First, the BBC breaking news report has already, within 15 minutes, been updated to include a statement from James Murdoch, in which he says that “the good things the News of the World does”

have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong – indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company. …

the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose. …

The company paid out-of-court settlements approved by me. I now know that I did not have a complete picture when I did so. This was wrong and is a matter of serious regret.

Not yet quite “The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable”, but a major step in that direction.

But I note a tweet from @subedit that

Sun staff have been told they are moving to a 7-day operation.

So perhaps what will really happen is that the News of the World will be rebranded as the Sunday Sun, as @subedit and Lord Prescott have already suggested.

I was also going to link to the campaign by Avaaz and 38 Degrees to stop News International from taking over BSkyB. Apparently the decision is to be delayed, until September according to @subedit. So it looks as if the campaign is having its effect, but we await further details.