I found today’s front page story in the News Of The World concerning George Michael cruising on Hampstead Heath a pretty unpleasant one. Why? Because it’s effectively an anti-gay story, and I really thought we had moved on from this kind of small-minded bigotry. The majority of the British public don’t care about a man being gay, and engaging in practices that are common amongst gay men.
So, the question becomes – should George sue the News Of the World? I thinki it depends on how true the story is. If it turns out they just made it up e.g. they followed him around, and took some snaps of him on Hampstead Heath; and that old ugly bloke had nothing to do with George, I think this is the time to sue them. And sue their arses off. Perhaps start at £10M to £20M pounds damages (or higher, if it’s realistic). For example, he could argue that that prior to this story, he had recovered his reputation to the point of being able to sell out a 50-date European tour this year (grossing tens of milllions). With plans under way for US tour early next year, and a European stadium tour next summer, he could argue that News Corporation have been trying to systematically destroy his career by fabricating exceptionally damaging stories about him and publishing in various of their papers in the UK and the US. In fact, there is strong evidence they have been trying to do this since Shoot The Dog. Sounds like a double-digit million lawsuit to me.
The truth is, while News Corporation can afford to be sued for tens of millions, the editor of the paper would certainly lose his job is the paper was successfully sued for a multi-million dollar figure; and the paper would have to stop making up stories about George. Why? Because shareholders aren’t interested in News Corp taking unnecessary loses; and the News Corp lawyers would have no choice to advise the News Of The World that to continue their attacks on George would likely have further serious financial consequences.
And… why should George take a stand now? Because it’s now clear they are not going to leave him alone unless he takes them on. They don’t seem to get bored. And, if it’s a made-up story, this could be that’s sufficiently big for him to hit them super-hard, right where it hurts. And also because this story is so blatantly homophobic, that it would also benefit the gay community to force the paper to retract its story, and publish an apology.
And, in reality, there’s nothing that the papers can do to him. He’s already achieve legendary status in pop music. He’s not doing anything wrong. The way I look at it, George has a lot less to lose here than the News Of The World, News Corp, and the employess of the News Of The World.
Of course, if the story is true, George probably doesn’t have a leg to stand on…