For the past couple of years Telegraph staff have kept track of the internal bloodletting and embarrassing insider secrets recounted in remarkable detail in Private Eye. Eagle-eyed reporters have noticed a pattern. While he has a reputation in the office for being an all-powerful control freak who always gets his way, in the Eye editor Chris Evans is almost always portrayed as an ignorant, innocent party who is far from the scene of the crime.
Take this well-informed Eye nugget about the Telegraph’s infamous election day email urging readers to vote Tory, for which the paper was fined £30,000. Even though Evans’ name was on the email, the Eye write-up generously portrays him as an innocent bystander “without a political thought in his head“, and instead names and shames two other Telegraph journalists, as well as Murdoch MacLennan and Aidan Barclay, as being responsible.
Then there was this curiously briefed story about the Telegraph’s positive coverage of UKIP. The Eye’s piece makes clear that talking up UKIP definitely isn’t Evans’ idea, in fact it is Evans who has been “keeping at bay” UKIP supporter and Telegraph owner Frederick Barclay. Evans is referred to as an “idiot“, but it’s Sir Frederick who is the true villain of the piece.
This Eye story, again very well-informed, derides the decision of Telegraph execs to cut back the Saturday paper. MacLennan and the Barclay brothers are named as the guilty parties, but who was it who bravely tried to fight back against the cull? Chris Evans, of course, alas his efforts were, according to the Eye’s top source, sadly “swept aside”.
What about this Eye hit piece on former Sunday Telegraph editor Ian MacGregor, who is dubbed a “laughing stock” whose job was really being done by – you guessed it – Chris Evans. MacGregor is portrayed as a shameless lackey of Aidan Barclay’s business interests. Who was the man standing up to him? Evans, once again.
Whoever the Eye’s mole is, it seems they are keen to make sure Evans escapes blame for calamitous decision making, as his rivals in Victoria are publicly machine gunned one by one…
“The Telegraph has become the Farage-graph”, declares ConHome this morning, as the paper puts yet another pro-Nigel, pro-Arron Banks story on its front page. The number of pro-Farage stories featuring on Telegraph front pages over the last few months has been notably disproportionate considering the relative size and significance of UKIP, and the fact Nige isn’t leader anymore. Added to that are Telegraph “Breakfast with Farage” events, not to mention op-ed after op-ed by Nigel. The new obsession is going down badly in the more liberal, metropolitan newsroom.
At a recent staff meeting, one brave journalist raised their hand and spoke about the recent Farage-centric coverage. The Barclays may like UKIP and they may host parties for Farage at the Ritz they mused, Telegraph readers however tend to be old Tories who don’t care much for the ‘Kippers. The concern in the newsroom is that the paper is running so many puff pieces for Farage and Banks because Banks is trying to buy the paper. Rumours have been circulating for months that Banks has been putting together a consortium of Brexit-backing donors to stump up the £250 million asking price – rumoured possible backers doing the rounds include Malcolm Pearson, David Stevens, Stuart Wheeler, Peter Cruddas and Michael Ashcroft. Asked if this was a possibility, Telegraph editor Chris Evans avoided the question and told his staff to follow the news. The prospect of a Banks-backed takeover has become the subject of gallows humour in the newsroom, though surely – without a lot of help – Arron just doesn’t have enough money?
Telegraph editor Chris Evans has been described as “the most hated man on Fleet Street”, “horrifically rude” and “the biggest bastard at the Telegraph”. Yesterday he addressed the paper’s remaining staff, telling them “it’s been a difficult week, I’m here to talk about the future”. The changes are wholesale…
Evans told the newsroom the paper would be streamlined so it consists of just five departments, answerable directly to him. The home and foreign news teams – historically both hugely respected in their own right – will now be merged into one department. Personal finance, traditionally one of the most important sections of the paper, will be merged with the City and Tech pages into a Money department. Lifestyle, Motoring and Gardening will become another department. Weekend editor Ian MacGregor – long loathed by Evans – is now the Culture editor as well, the fourth department. This is not a demotion says the TMG press office. The fifth department is Sport. Evans tried to spin senior job losses as meaning hacks would have to deal with “fewer chiefs”…
‘Digital media director’ Malcolm Coles has been given a new desk in the middle of the newsroom – he will be in charge of “innovation and search engine optimisation” and answer to the editor. Evans said Coles will be “at the heart of the new strategy and the new newsroom”. As you can see from his Twitter, Coles’ main interests lie in ‘viral content’, gifs and animal pictures.
During the half-hour address Evans is said to have lost the room. At one point a disgruntled journalist confronted him and asked: “How are we supposed to produce quality journalism if we keep firing people?”. Evans replied: “By doing everything I’ve just explained to you”. He will go down as the editor who changed the Telegraph beyond all recognition, from the paper of Bill Deedes and Charles Moore to cheap clickbait about child pole dancers…
UPDATE: The Telegraph Media Group’s press office write: “We have not merged departments.” Our newsroom source says “they definitely have”.
A week after the “social responsibility” credentials of bookmakers had been demolished by the actions of Paddy Power pursuing and pushing a problem gambler into abject poverty, Malcolm George the CEO of their trade association (ABB) told his members “In everything we do, every action we take, we must ensure that we are focused on our number one priority – protecting shops…”. No mention of a recent spate of suicides among their FOBT customers.
Quickly bypassing his Irish members’ debacle, Malcolm turned his attention to the other gambling sectors – bingo, amusement arcades, casinos and online operators, which up to now have left the bookmakers besieged in their FOBT bunker to fend for themselves. “We are all stronger if we act as an industry and I say this with sadness – to those of you in other sectors who consort with the sources of these attacks, who provide them with support – stop now,” begged Malcolm.
So far no white knight from a bingo hall or anywhere else has come galloping to Malcolm’s aid and what his speech underlines more than anything is that the bookmakers are not just at war with politicians, the media and the public, they are also at war with their industry colleagues – even among their own gang.
If all this isn’t bad enough, the bookmakers’ only vociferous cheer leader in the House of Commons was this weekend floored by the Times who revealed cozy deals on his betting account with Ladbrokes and more jolly jaunts with the other big bookies.
Is it time for little known Labour MP Chris Evans to fill Davies’ void? Malcolm welcomed Chris with open arms at the ABB’s annual general meeting last week. What are the odds on him being floored by the Times at some point, too?
Some surprise names on the list of celebs who have written in the Telegraph today calling on everyone to “leave the BBC alone”.
Why would they bite the hand that feeds them?
Other shock signatories include:
Almost as if they’re worried about bumper Beeb salaries being in the firing line…