There is a fair amount of utter cock on the Top Tory Boy Blogger's sites today. But they all seem to be hesitating to "clear" Andy Coulson from having the slightest clue what was really going on in his newsrooms. And, to be fair, throughout the newspaper industry. And broadcast too, allegedly. And had been. For yonks. Just ask Andy Coulson's old mucker Piers Morgan. He doesn't suffer from amnesia.
Whereas the new editor wallah, that's Colin Myler, who opened the batting with a wily old barrister-person, that's Tom Crone, talked of forensically going through every story and spending more time with lawyers than with journalists Coulson seemed to imply he was ever so ever so busy, yet oblivious to the realities of the game at the News of the Screws.
And forgetful. Oh my god, forgetful. Let's not forget much of this was three years and more ago!! Three years. And more. Although, to be fair, again, we were fortnightly and had less news pages I reckon I can still remember the stories of most of the news stories in City Life Magazine from 1984 and 1985. Some of which went to Law. I tended to get to lead on clearing that edgy stuff. One of which stories was literally taken off the page at the printers and left as blank space.
The pictures and I think captions were certainly allowed to remain. Possibly the headlines too. Which was an interesting decision from the printer's lawyers. The story had been cleared at our end as I recall. But they made us take the text away, leaving the names and photographs of some local characters, about whom our readers could (rightly) assume we had several hundred words of suppressed but damning reportage. Result!
Coulson's "shotgun", a Mr
CutlerKuttner, seemed like he might be a barrister too at first sight and first sound. But he quickly identified himself as a journalist-cum-manager Managing Editor. Mr CutlerKuttner seemed to be there to take any fall that was eventually needed. He seemed to know this. A bit like the fairly innocent yet busted police captain in The Wire last night. How appropriate. And not out of the woods yet. I'd say he incriminated himself more than anyone, being unable to fake sincerity, and also volunteering answers to unasked questions. CutlerKuttner had been pushed "by mutual consent" as the Guardian story broke. he insisted so testily that this was not connected to the story that this achieved the opposite of his intended disassociation. A bit like all that blank space in City Life.
This departure had been under discussion for "weeks, months even". He would rather have stayed on, yes. The contents of his pencil case were pushed around the desk, his eye contact was at best almost non existent, and there were moments when he seemed likely to explode with indignation. Possibly with some MP or other. Or with News International who had it seemed gently sacked him. Or with that damned protractor and set square that never seemed to be in quite the right place on the desk.
Coulson got a bit cocky towards the end I thought. With his digs at Watson over the McBride emails penned one lunchtime and one tea time, suggesting that his complete and utter ignorance of the workings of his newsrooms for four years as editor and two more as deputy was in any way equivalent to Watson not knowing what had happened during the secretive composition of a couple of 15 minute emails.
Best questions I thought were perhaps from Mike Hall MP whose patch is out Frodsham way. "Have you heard the saying that you should never put anything in an email that you wouldn't want to appear on the front page of the News of the World?" he retorted at the not very impressive news that the NOTW new broom had looked at "up to 2,500 emails" many months after anything tasty was long flushed.
Sheesh, there have been days, single days, when I've had a similar volume of incoming and outgoing email to that. On my own. Certainly there have been phases of my working life in certain roles where this would be the typical weekly tally.
Why is anyone supposed to be impressed at an investigation covering say 200 journalists and several years looking at 2,500 emails?
Journalists could delete emails and be sure they were completely flushed from the News International system within a month. The internal investigation was after the police one. That mysteriously did not seem to widen beyond the poor Royal Correspondent. Emails stayed three years if they were not specifically deleted. And isn't it just about possible that any journalist or investigator capable of hacking phones, diving bins and blagging confidential data might also be entrepreneurial enough to get a yahoo account, or indeed to avoid incriminating correspondence altogether.
Mike Hall MP followed up with a question about any attempts to trace any other payments to the criminal investigator person and his many and varied companies. Strangely enough, and horribly predictably the NOTW people hadn't thought to follow the money any more than to marvel at how searches for stories about footballers' organisers, super models, editors or politicians might have been commissioned by someone other than their Royal Correspondent.
It is just about possible that tomorrow morning's papers will include someone or other bubbling Andy Coulson. Perhaps the Guardian have saved up a follow up or three to follow today's hearing? Who knows? Perhaps Conservative Home know? Perhaps Iain Dale knows? Perhaps Guido Fawkes on his French beach? Or young Phil Hendren aka Dizzy Thinks?
Not a word of coverage or analysis between them last time I looked. The professionals cannot be so coy of course. "Cool" opined Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph; "unscathed" was the word at The Spectator Coffee house blog.
We'll see fellas. We'll see. If "cool" Coulson is still "unscathed" in a week or a month or a year that still won't be it. "When is someone going to bubble him?" we'll all wonder. It will be the uncertainty that keeps on giving. It was telling that the NOTW talked a lot about "evidence" as in: "You can't prove anything, there is no evidnce, narr, narr". There is no evidence ... yet.
FOOTNOTE 13:25. Cutler corrected to Kuttner, pictures and some nuance added, discover Peter Burden site which looks rather promising. Perhaps a bit driven by an anti- Screws agenda. Always a shame when that happens. "Cool" is all. Ask amnesia Coulson. Or scuttler Kuttner.