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Friday, July 15, 2011 

The cancer remains.

So. Farewell then to Rebekah Brooks. When someone described by the Graun as a "ruthless, charming schmoozer", the kind of individual who previously considered prime ministers past and present to be friends is only paid tribute to by a couple of Murdochs and err, Giles Coren, you know there's been a very sudden sea change in attitudes to those at the top of the media pile.

Despite everything, we still don't really know why Keith was so intent on keeping dear Rebekah at the top of NI. It's true he feels a special affinity with those who have dragged themselves up from under-privileged backgrounds and share his love of newspapers, qualities which Kelvin MacKenzie and Andy Coulson both had in common with Brooks. It still doesn't explain though just how she came to be seen as being part of the extended family, or how someone on the surface so ill-suited to the job of chief executive came to helm his UK operations. Brooks, like most tabloid editors before her operated a policy in the newsroom of apparent friendliness combined with moments of fury and extended bawling out of those judged to have failed in some way, the latter of which it seems increased as she approached the end of her tenure. Inspiring fear in those you come across while chief exec simply doesn't work, nor does telling lies which can be easily found out, as she did when she claimed the Guardian had "likely deliberately misled the British public".

Last week the obvious thing to have done would have been to accept Brooks's resignation and keep the News of the World open, even if last Sunday's edition was to be an extended mea culpa with those involved in the cover up also falling on their swords. The Murdochs not only did the opposite, sacrificing a paper and loyal workers in a desperate attempt to save both Brooks and the BSkyB bid, Rupert then went on his bizarre walkabout at the weekend, saying to the press that his first priority was his flame-haired CEO. Even if propping up Brooks was a ploy to direct flak away from Murdoch junior, the very person who authorised the payment to Gordon Taylor in a failed attempt to hush up the spiralling scandal, then subsequent events and the failure to get a grip meant that her departure was an inevitability, later if not sooner.

Her resignation letter, decoded by the Graun, says it all. She says she feels a "deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt", yet only last week she was blaming a BBC-Guardian witch-hunt instead of her own failings for the closure of the Screws. Unlike the hacks left without a job, it's apparent that she'll remain on the NI payroll, although in what capacity it remains to be seen. Equally clear is that falling on her own sword now solves absolutely nothing: the attention has immediately shifted to James. The investigations now under way in America suggest it could soon move to KRM himself. After suggesting only "minor mistakes" had been made by News Corp, to then issue such a craven apology as will be published in newspapers tomorrow indicates that those who have never felt the need to say sorry before still don't genuinely mean it now. Brooks may be gone, but the cancer remains.

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