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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

"Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue"

Nobody was better placed to define hypocrisy than Oscar Wilde. At the very time he was imprisoned, the prime minister, Lord Rosebery, was widely believed to be homosexual

I wonder what Oscar would have thought of the great phone-bugging hoo-ha.

The newspapers have always used any and all means to get information. Think of the late Diana. Or Prince Charles' phone calls. Or going further back, the Profumo scandal.

Forty odd years before Wilde, when the Victorians were busy inaugurating the great age of hypocrisy, Macaulay wrote, "We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality."

But the public have nothing on the newspapers themselves. The News of the World was built almost entirely on weekly dollops of false indignation.

So there is something pleasingly ironic about the way non-Murdoch press is busy whipping itself up into a frenzy of false indignation - whilst licking its corporate chops.

Cosi fan tutte.

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