Hack: Sex, Drugs, and Scandal from Inside the Tabloid Jungle
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Graham Johnson was a fresh-faced journalist with an ambition to break the big news stories and make his name as a star reporter when an offer came in to work at a leading tabloid… he couldn't say no. Instantly, he found himself drawn into a world of sleaze, spin and corruption - where bending the law was justifiable in the hunt for the big-selling story and bending the truth was the norm.
Against his better judgement, Graham found his niche in this new world and, what's more, he found that he was good at it. In his time at first the News of the Worldthen the Sunday Mirror, he made a name for himself as a man who could deliver the story, no matter what - a kind of tabloid terrorist who rifled through celebrity's rubbish bins, staked out politicians' hotel rooms, and paid-up page three girls to seduce Premiership footballers, all in the name of selling newspapers.
Hackis a compelling and intoxicating story of one man's time in the tabloid jungle - a world that in its heady mix of sex, drugs and casual immorality is reminiscent of the City - and how he ultimately saved himself.
An elite corps of reporters and execs, rapidly coming up through the ranks. Who championed near-saturation celebrity news. Building empires within newspapers based on the magic they could conjure up. Basically out of thin air – literally nothing. Energising impressionable followers with their showbiz expertise. A coup against the old school was underway. To overthrow the greying editors who still valued a version of hard news. Warped, tabloidy and fake though it may have been at the core of their papers.
The salesmen, with their tedious lives, shuffling about. Mugs who didn’t know the score. As we got off, Steve seriously hoped that, in the end, it wouldn’t have to come to down to Plan B. ‘Maybe,’ he mused, ‘Ray has calmed down over the weekend . . . and it’s all been forgotten about now, d’youknowwhatImean? Hopefully, when you speak to him, we’ll get pulled off. ’ But checking in with Ray was a brisk formality. During the call, he still sounded pissed off. Rebekah was still keen on the Beast, he said. Obvious that she still wanted a picture of a mystery cat.
Ray asked me to close the door – must be on top. ‘This girl’s just been on to me,’ he said. ‘This tart. She’s alleging that you didn’t make your excuses and she performed oral sex on you. ’ Alleged! Already all the jargon was coming out. All those terms they use in disciplinary hearings before they whack you. He was making it sound as though I’d fucking raped her or something. ‘Fuck off, Ray, she’s blagging,’ I rebutted. ‘She’s just trying to get the story spiked. Yesterday she was threatening to do herself in.
An abscess had exploded under a rotting molar, decayed by too many years of Mars Bar breakfasts on the road. My mouth was drenched in brown tooth tincture. I battled to plug a hole in the stinking enamel, the edges blackened, with a sodden ball of cotton wool. Crunching Anadins three at a time. But taking the pain because Rebekah was the emir and if she asked me to run into Jerry’s and blow myself up, I would have. I was determined not to show-out in Jerry’s leafy road so I hung well back from the house, a large detached where he stowed his wife and three kids.
OK, mate. No sweat,’ I said. ‘So where are we now? ’ ‘I told her all about Ray and him putting us up to it. ’ To me, it seemed silly to do that. Why bother blaming Ray? Yes, he did ask me to engineer a pic. But at the end of the day, I was thinking about doing that anyway. And it was me who decided to go along with it once he’d given us a steer. It was me. My fault. No one else. But Steve was older than me. I still didn’t trust my own judgement as much as I did his. He was a veteran of News Int. corporate politics.