The story now would be about David Cameron overruling his coalition partners as well as his officials, shunning the need for an independent assessment of a complex competition issue, all in order to intervene on behalf of the most powerful media dynasty in the English speaking world.
Did Cameron really think that was a better outcome? Would it be worth weeks of negative headlines (in the non-Murdoch press, at least). Would it burnish his credentials as a prime minister of integrity, who takes the right decisions through the right process?
He may be telling Murdoch his hands were tied by the stubborn Lib Dems. But in truth there was probably no political alternative. This was the only decision Cameron was ever going to take as a coalition prime minister. And there is a better than even chance he would have done the same, even with a Tory majority of 100.
Now I’m sure there will be plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth, at least in private with the Murdoch family. As the FT reported this morning, the cabinet was genuinely split over the decision. But all the Tories opposing this referral would have been doing so safe in the knowledge that their views were never in danger of being acted upon.
These are crocodile tears. And I can’t imagine an old crocodile like Rupert Murdoch will fall for them.