For a time on Saturday afternoon the hashtag #Shakespeare4Murdoch was the leading trend on twitter. Tweeters quoted appropriate bits of Shakespeare or adjusted a line or two to suit what’s become known as Hackgate. Here are a few examples:
Remorse, remorse, my kingdom for remorse
To BskyB or not to BskyB, that is the question
Something is rotten in the state of Murdoch
Reuters picked this story up. It’s a testament to Shakespeare’s universal popularity that he can be adopted almost spontaneously by so many people, but he’d have been mystified by the way in which news is spread today. There weren’t even any newspapers in his time let alone the ability to communicate around the world in seconds.
On Saturday Rupert Murdoch published an apology in the national dailies, followed on Sunday by an explanation of the steps being taken by News International to put the faults right.
He might not have recognised the methods, but Shakespeare knew that those in power could promote their own version of events.
In Measure for Measure, when Isabella threatens to expose his corruption, Angelo, the governor, responds:
Who will believe thee, Isabel? …
Say what you can, my false o’erweighs your true
Several of Shakespeare’s characters who the audience knows to be guilty proclaim their innocence and their desire to be on good terms with everyone. Richard III’s probably the best example:
‘Tis death to me to be at enmity;
I hate it, and desire all good men’s love….
I thank God for my humility.
Not everyone believes him: his mother knows he is lying:
Ah, that Deceit should steal such gentle shape,
And with a virtuous vizor hide deep Vice!
Today the story has been rolling so fast there’s no time for having fun with Shakespeare quotes: at the time of writing Rebekah Brooks has been arrested and the London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has resigned. On Twitter there are further rumours that her arrest has been timed to ensure that she can’t be questioned by the Parliamentary Committee on Tuesday.
There’s already a trailer on YouTube for Hackgate: the first movie: