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Daily View: Will the relationship between politicians and the press change?

Clare Spencer | 09:56 UK time, Thursday, 7 July 2011

As accusations about the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World continue commentators ask about the friends politicians keep.

The Telegraph's Peter Oborne says David Cameron has ruined his reputation by being friends with Rebekah Brooks but he isn't the first to be dragged into the "sewer" by his friends:

"From a popular and respected national leader, he will come to be defined by his ill-judged friendship with the Chipping Norton set. This kind of personal degradation has happened before. By the end, Harold Wilson was irreparably damaged by his friendship with dodgy businessmen such as the raincoat manufacturer Lord Kagan. The Macmillan premiership fell apart under the weight of revelation from Lord Astor's Cliveden set.
 
"So what must Mr Cameron do? First, he must speedily turn his back on Rebekah Brooks."

However, in the blog Political Betting Mike Smithson thinks Oborne may have judged the situation too quickly:

"He suggests that if the Prime Minister plays his cards wrong, his public image will change in a matter of a few days.
 
"As ever Oborne's article is powerful, insightful and entertaining but is it too early to draw conclusions on the scale of the damage? The critical thing for the PM, surely, is how he moves on from here and we've only just seen the first phase of his response."

In the Independent Andreas Whittam Smith gives a rather unflattering international comparison to the relationship between the press and politicians:

"Unchecked, News International's illegal practices would grow ever more far reaching, more police officers would be suborned, more trials ruined. And more politicians would be bent to Mr Murdoch's will. For, just as Italian politicians have courted the mafia, so British politicians have fawned over News International executives and editors. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, even brought a former editor into Downing Street who, it is now alleged, authorised the payments of bribes to the police."

Mehdi Hasan wonders in the New Statesman if the saga will see the end of politicians "sucking up" to Rupert Murdoch and questions whether the belief that the Sun wins elections is even true:

"Why has the political class been seduced by Murdoch? Fear? Deference? Awe of his wealth and power? Murdoch, it is often remarked, spots and backs winners - but nowadays he seems to have lost his Midas touch. In September 2008, the Murdoch-owned New York Post enthusiastically endorsed John McCain, who was defeated by Barack Obama two months later. In September 2010, the Sun came out in favour of David Cameron, who failed to win a parliamentary majority less than than nine months later. 'I think the Murdoch press has less influence than it used to,' the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, told me in August 2010 in the midst of his leadership campaign. 'I don't think the Sun had a particularly good election. Twenty-three front pages supporting the Tories and the Tories got 36 per cent of the vote.'"

A bleaker prediction is cast by Brian Cathcart. He says in the Guardian he wouldn't be surprised if, because of close alliances, some tricks are used by politicians to wiggle out of an inquiry:

"It is a measure of the insidious influence of Rupert Murdoch that his company's shame has the capacity to embarrass not one but three prime ministers, all of whom, miraculously, have counted Rebekah Brooks as a friend, while cabinet ministers going back a dozen years or more (some of whom were hacked themselves) have as much to fear. None of them fancies a trip into the witness box.
 
"So we may expect plenty more wriggling and squirming, ducking and weaving."

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