Testifying Monday before a government-sponsored ethics inquiry investigating tabloid press behavior, a former British TV anchor detailed the invasive and abusive coverage she and her family suffered for years at the hands of Rupert Murdoch's tabloids. Journalist Anne Diamond claimed Murdoch had encouraged his editors to target her because the anchor had been rude to the press baron when she pressed him about his company's lack of ethics.
Diamond's stinging testimony about being "targeted" came the same day that former child singing star Charlotte Church claimed that when she was 13 years old, she had been asked to perform at Murdoch's wedding. At the time, Murdoch representatives informed her that in exchange for singing at the wedding free of charge, she would receive favorable press coverage from Murdoch's media outlet. (Church accepted the quid pro quo but was soon hounded by Murdoch's tabloids.)
In the wake of the phone hacking scandal that has enveloped Murdoch's News Corp. in Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron created an on-going investigation, known as the Leveson Inquiry. The inquiry has been hosting testimony from major players in British media and entertainment who have recounted abusive treatment they have suffered at the hands of tabloids, and in particular Murdoch's properties.
Diamond became British media star in the 1980's as anchor for TVam. In 1985, Diamond confronted Rupert Murdoch and asked him why he allowed his tabloids to invade people's privacy and destroy people's lives. According to Diamond's testimony, Murdoch replied that if people sought publicity and celebrity status then they forfeited their right to privacy. He added that his tabloids don't ruin people's lives, they ruin their own lives.
Quickly following her pointed questions, Diamond found herself a permanent target of Murdoch's media wrath.
From The Scotsman:
The former TV-am presenter told the Leveson Inquiry that The Sun - one of Mr Murdoch's titles - ran an article headlined "Anne Diamond Killed My Father", offered her nanny £30,000 for a story and infiltrated the hospital where she was giving birth when one of the newspaper's reporters posed as a doctor.
She also spoke of her distress when the newspaper published a front-page picture of her and her husband carrying the coffin of their baby son Sebastian at his funeral in 1991.
When Diamond saw a documentary this year about phone hacking that contained an interview with one of Murdoch's former butlers, she made the connection between her brutal treatment from the tabloids and her brief exchange with Murdoch. In the documentary, Murdoch's former butler recalled that in the wake of the Diamond confrontation regarding News Corp.'s lack of ethics, he overheard Murdoch talking to his editors and denouncing her as rude.
"The way it is described in the documentary is that Murdoch's call to his editors left them in no doubt that they were to 'go after' me," Diamond testified:
The implication was very plain - that he had implied they should attack me in their papers
Having asked that one question of Murdoch, I was hounded and vilified on newspaper front pages for many years. The effect upon me and my family truly cannot be overstated. In my view it demonstrates a part of the press with neither conscience nor human values.