Our Mrs Brooks arrested again in UK .. Hamm slams Kardashian, Axelrod stalks Mormons, and “robocalls” lingers in British North AmericaMar 14th, 2012 | By Dominic Berry | Category: In Brief
The counterweights editors have just informed me that a piece I did last summer — “Catching up with UK hacking scandal .. Rebekah Brooks (nee Wade/Mrs. Ross Kemp) and Wendi Deng Murdoch!” — has been receiving some striking fresh attention from readers. And the editors have asked me to quickly update the ongoing adventures of the remarkable Mrs Brooks, in the old imperial metropolis across the seas.
In the process I have also bumped into three more strictly North American imbroglios, that seem to vaguely parallel Mrs Brooks’s latest adventures (in spirit if not at all, in most cases at any rate, in their proximity to actual alleged “white collar” crime).
The first is Jon Hamm’s recent criticism of “Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton or whoever,” in an interview with a UK publication — and the droll response of a dumb-blonde-wigged Ms. Kardashian herself (all nicely timed for the premiere of the fifth TV season of “Mad Men,” starring Mr. Hamm, a week this coming Sunday evening??).
The second imbroglio involves some provocative recent twittering from Obama strategist David Axelrod on Mormonism, the ostensible religion of Mitt Romney (whose chances of becoming President Obama’s opponent this fall may be somewhat less since the Alabama and Mississippi primaries last night, but …).
The third focuses briefly on the latest twisted developments in our own very own “robocalls scandal,” in the federal politics of Stephen Harper’s back-to-the-future revival of the old British North America Act — complete with a new Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, and assorted other attempts to recover what the late great Rene Levesque used to call the colonized mind in Canada.
I must of course start with my update of the ongoing adventures of the remarkable Mrs Brooks, in the revived (second or is it third?) Canadian Mother Country. Having now carefully studied my own Top Ten List of recent press reports on this subject, I have awarded first prize to a succinct blog on the New Yorker website, posted yesterday by Lauren Collins:
“CAMERON IN AMERICA, BROOKS UNDER ARREST … David Cameron, the British prime minister, has a knack for being out of the country when trouble flares … Early this morning, his friends Rebekah Wade Brooks, the former News International executive, and her husband, Charlie Brooks, an Eton contemporary of Cameron’s, were arrested at their home in Oxfordshire on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice [an offence that could bring 10 years in jail] … To give you an idea of the incestuousness of the relationship between News International, the police, and Cameron’s government, it emerged earlier this month … that Cameron had gone riding with Charlie Brooks on a horse, named Raisa, that Rebekah Brooks had on long-term loan from the Metropolitan Police Force. At the time of her arrest, Cameron was heading to Washington … for a three-day visit with Barack Obama.”
I can confirm myself that PM Cameron has now safely arrived, having seen him with President Obama at a press conference on CBC TV this morning. For a complete documentation of my Top Ten List on Mrs. Brooks’s latest arrest etc — and some further details on Hamm-Hilton-Kardashian, Axelrod on Mormonism, and Robocalls in the Vast Northern Wilderness, read on. (Or not, of course: the decision in this cybernetic democracy is always yours alone!)
(1) Jon Hamm on “Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton or whoever”
Last Friday it was reported that in an interview with ELLE UK, to be published next month, “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm (also in “Bridesmaids” and much else lately) declared: “Whether it’s Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton or whoever, stupidity is certainly celebrated. Being a (expletive) idiot is a valuable commodity in this culture because you’re rewarded significantly.”
Three days later, we heard that “Kim Kardashian is sounding very much like an adult, after Jon Hamm slammed her … Kardashian addressed Hamm’s statement Monday on Twitter, saying ‘Calling someone who runs their own businesses, is a part of a successful TV show, produces, writes, designs, and creates, “stupid,” is in my opinion careless … I respect Jon and I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that not everyone takes the same path in life. We’re all working hard and we all have to respect one another.’”
You might almost be impressed by these words — but only if you have never actually seen the “successful TV show” to which Ms. Kardashian alludes. As it happens, I have (as part of my ongoing project to keep in touch with all forms of American popular culture). And my view is that if you have seen this TV show (“Keeping Up With the Kardashians”) — even just once — you will have no trouble understanding what Jon Hamm means when he says “stupidity is certainly celebrated. Being a (expletive) idiot is a valuable commodity in this culture.”
For further support of this view, see today’s (or is it yesterday’s?) edition of the “Hollywood Grind” website: “Kim Kardashian Went Blonde for Jon Hamm … Kim Kardashian went to a book store with a blonde wig on to send some sort of message, but before she got there the wind blew her skirt up as if on cue, and Kim said “Oops, I dropped my brain.” Great, the wind has herpes now, so stay indoors for a while. Kim should know hiking her skirt up to her neck will not help her sagging chest. Every step Kim makes, and every word she speaks, she just keeps proving Jon Hamm right.” (I should add at the same time that I do think Kim Kardashian is a bit interesting myself, and certainly hot in at least some “full figured” respects, and there can be no doubt that her use of the word “careless” is somewhat clever, as she is too — though I also certainly agree that in the end Jon Hamm is as right as it is possible to be “in this culture.”)
(2) Axelrod on Mormonism …
The Atlantic Wire for this past March 12, 2012 asks: “Obama strategist David Axelrod tweeted a not-quite-decipherable message Monday that included a link to a story about Mormon women being erroneously barred from some official ceremonies because they were menstruating. Then he deleted the tweet. What does it all mean?!” One possibility: “ It was an on-purpose accident: Axelrod wanted to promote the idea that Mormons are weird (which the campaign supposedly considered promoting) and tie it to the Republican war on women.”
This, I confess, does make sense to me. Some time ago an older family member, rationalizing his book collection, brought me a Book of Mormon he wanted to get rid of. I have glanced through the thing a few times. And as far as I can see it IS “weird” — at the very least. Mitt Romney may not take his Mormonism seriously. It may just be the card he was dealt at birth, and so forth. But the thought that someone who just might take the Book of Mormon seriously just might become President of the USA certainly alarms me. Of course, a number of actual US presidents in my lifetime have alarmed me as well. And of course too I absolutely believe that everyone is entitled to whatever religion they like. But I’m not altogether certain that the Book of Mormon actually is a religion … and the excellent now defunct TV series “Big Love” only added to my doubts …
(3) Is the robocalls scandal in Canada all that serious?
I am still sceptical about all this — as I guess I was about the so-called sponsorship scandal back in the day, until it finally started to draw some real political blood. So I’m at least trying to retain an open mind.
The latest as I write seems to be “Elections Canada sifts through Tory database to identify Pierre Poutine” and “Robocalls: Liberals release telephone information in hopes Conservative Party will do the same.”
The latest attempt to argue it could prove momentous seems to be Linda McQuaig’s “Scale of robocall scandal … Widespread voter suppression big league for Canada.” She writes: “The Conservatives, who’ve been fending off charges of trying to deter non-Conservative voters from making it to the correct poll on election day, are presumably hoping that the voter suppression can be blamed on a rogue operating without the approval or awareness of the Conservative party … Of course, the rogue theory is possible. But it does run into problems.”
I’m usually somewhat sceptical about Ms. McQuaig’s arguments too. But then I read “Rebekah Brooks, five others arrested in UK phone hacking probe.” And this part makes me think again that you can never be too careful about what seem like scandals in a teapot at first: “An inquiry panel appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to determine why an initial police investigation into phone hacking in 2006 failed to reveal the scope of the problem … At the time, Mr. Murdoch’s executives claimed the wrongdoing was limited to one scurrilous reporter and an unprincipled private detective, both of whom were jailed.”
(4) Top Ten Recent Articles on Rebekah Brooks and the UK phone hacking probe … a haphazard personal selection
“Phone hacking: ‘I could have asked more questions’ James Murdoch admits,” March 14, Toronto Star.
“Rebekah Brooks and husband arrested in new twist in phone-hacking inquiry,” March 14, The Guardian (UK).
“Rebekah Brooks and husband arrested over hacking cover-up,” March 14, The Independent (UK).
“Rebekah Brooks among six arrested in UK phone-hacking raids,” March 13, Toronto Star.
“Rebekah Brooks re-arrested in hacking probe,” March 13, Reuters Video published in The Globe and Mail (Canada).
“Rebekah Brooks among six arrested in phone-hacking investigation,” March 13, The Guardian (UK).
“CAMERON IN AMERICA, BROOKS UNDER ARREST,” March 13, The New Yorker.
“How a horse named Raisa connects the British PM to phone hacking scandal,” March 2, Toronto Star.
“Bryan Adams shocked by stalking story, UK phone hacking inquiry told,” February 29, Toronto Star.
“Long-term bribery allegations raise stakes in Murdoch tabloid scandal,” February 15, The Globe and Mail (Canada).