19/07/2011 11:43 BST | Updated 18/09/2011 06:12 BST

A British Spring? Phone-Hacking Scandal Threatens Murdoch Media Empire and British Government

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to hold an emergency session of Parliament on Wednesday to discuss the growing phone-hacking scandal that has threatened Rupert Murdoch's media empire and rocked the British government.

Democracy Now! hosts an extensive interview with Ian Katz, deputy editor of The Guardian, the British newspaper that has broken many of the Murdoch stories, and Sarah Smith, correspondent for Channel 4 News U.K., based in Washington, D.C.

Here is an excerpt of the transcript:

DEMOCRACY NOW!'S AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of the Prime Minister, Ian Katz, calling for an emergency session of the British Parliament Wednesday?

IAN KATZ: Well, I think that's terribly significant, because it gives you an indication of the way in which this scandal is really increasingly lapping at the doors of Downing Street. I think a lot of people, when we began reporting this story two years ago, thought it was a kind of internecine media spat, and maybe it spilled over a little into the issue of press regulation. But what you saw with the resignation of Paul Stephenson yesterday is this goes right to the heart of other institutions, like the police. And inch by inch, this is now closing in on Downing Street. I think David Cameron realized that if he didn't come and give a statement to the House on Wednesday, probably the opposition would have demanded that Parliament be recalled. The real question is, is he going to submit to a grilling as well as just giving a statement?

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Sarah Smith in. Ian Katz, I'd like to ask you to stay with us. The significance of this, what this means for the relationships between the media, the government, the police in your country, in Britain?

SARAH SMITH: It's going to change everything. It's going to change how things work inside Britain. It's going to change, I fear, how Britain is perceived outside, as well. You could call this the British Spring, as you watch every part of the British establishment being tainted by this scandal, as Ian Katz was just saying. It's clearly reached the police already. It is lapping at the doors of the Prime Minister's office. It's being heavily debated in Parliament as they get sucked into it. There's no part of British public life that isn't being touched by this scandal now.

So it's bound to change the relationships -- people hope, for the good, a less cozy relationship between politicians and the press. Hopefully in the future, no press baron will ever have the power to bully politicians into doing what they want, to render them so terrified of bad publicity that they don't even dare investigate things, like this hacking scandal, in the first place. We could have been dealing with this years and years ago if it weren't for the fact that people were too scared to take on the power of Rupert Murdoch. That's not healthy for any kind of democratic society. And people very much hope that's something that will fundamentally change -- but not before a lot of British institutions have been very, very badly damaged in public perception nationally, and probably internationally, because what's Britain about? We don't have a commanding military that can go around the world changing things. What we have is diplomatic soft power, a large part of which is built on respect for our institutions, our democracy, our parliament, our free press, our upstanding police force and the rule of law. And all of that has been so badly undermined by this scandal, one wonders what element of British public life will not be touched by this by the time it's all over.

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