Socialist Worker

News of the World: Right wing rag that waged war on poor

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2260

Protesting against Murdoch

Protesting against Murdoch's empire (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The News of the World hated working class people.

Headlines it left out of its special tribute issue included “Life’s a ball on benefits”, “Gipsy blings” and “Breeding scrounger”.

Some claim the Sunday red-top was a campaigning newspaper, exposing the exploits of the rich and powerful.

Its political editor David Wooding wrote, “Villains, paedophiles and corrupt politicians will be able to sleep more soundly now that the greatest investigative newspaper on Earth has gone.”

But what, exactly, were these great investigations?


Was it “Hide ’n’ seekers”, the “News of the World investigation into the booming numbers of asylum seekers” trying to “smuggle themselves to our shores”?

Maybe it was “What the Halal?”, where the paper “found that more than 200 schools use only meat from animals slaughtered to meet Muslim religious beliefs”.

One of the paper’s few worthwhile “investigations” was when one hack decided to prove that mobile phones fry people’s brains.

He rang the speaking clock on his mobile and left it in a cupboard with an egg. Three months later, he got a phone bill for £8,000—and the egg had done nothing but start to smell funny.

Many obituaries of the paper have noted its 168-year history of making cash out of people’s misery.

But when Rupert Murdoch took control in 1969, the nastiness stepped up a gear.

Just a few weeks ago, in the run-up to the 30 June strikes, “the world’s greatest newspaper” ran an editorial headlined “Strikers set us on road to ruin”.

“Don’t let them win,” it told its readers, “or we’ll all be losers.”

This is nothing new. Murdoch cemented his reputation as a union-buster in the 1980s Wapping dispute (see below).

After he turfed out the unions, his paper was free to pick on anyone it thought wouldn’t fight back.


It ran headlines slamming “extremist Muslims”, “bogus asylum seekers” and those it deemed guilty of “benefit scams”.

Rebekah Brooks, in her time as editor, launched what will be perhaps the paper’s best-remembered campaign.

Exploiting the murder of schoolgirl Sarah Payne, it launched a “name and shame” campaign against paedophiles.

Brooks ignored warnings that the campaign would drive paedophiles underground. Vigilantes drove people out of their homes—including several who had nothing to do with paedophilia.

Sometimes the paper was able to combine its hang-ups.

After police shot Mohammed Abdul Kahar during a “terror” raid in Forest Gate, east London, the paper reported there were “vile kiddie sex pictures” on his computer. The claim proved entirely groundless.

There are thousands more examples. The News of the World never cared about the truth.

Its role was always to pick on the poor, afflict the weak and sow division.

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