Compare and contrast Rachel Sylvester’s drive-by shooting of Boris two weeks ago – branding him an “international joke”, a “wally”, an “irrelevance” – with today’s piece coming to BoJo’s defence: “It is legitimate for the foreign secretary, who has been criticised for his lack of seriousness, to express his opinion on the biggest diplomatic dilemma facing the country in a generation”. What could possibly have caused such a sudden change of mind? Surely nothing to do with the fact that Rachel’s husband, Patrick Wintour of the Guardian, is off to New York to interview Boris…
Westminster’s favourite wit Matt Chorley writes in his Little Read Box email this morning:
“Next month it will be 13 years since I joined Twitter.”
Odd since Twitter was only founded 11 years ago and Matt’s own feed says he signed up in 2009:
On the other hand, colleagues remark it feels like he’s been on WhatsApp forever…
When I’m not writing high-minded articles, it is the tabloid-style political gossip blog that I edit that pays the bills. Just like newspaper tabloids we face editorial dilemmas almost daily.
Can we risk cracking a joke at the expense of a supposedly suicidal politician? Is it in bad taste to run a picture of the empty booze bottles overflowing from the dustbin of an alcoholic MP who claims he is on the wagon? Is it fair to use an old Facebook picture of a young girl in a bikini who is now a parliamentary researcher and said to be carnally linked to a politician? More importantly, was she over 16 in that downloaded picture? Those are much tougher dilemmas than worries about classified e-mails from Downing Street advisers, stolen ministerial documents and purloined computer-disk evidence of expenses fraud.
There is no doubt in my mind that my readers are as interested in the former type of story as the latter. If the blog were subject to the rules of the Press Complaints Commission, I wouldn’t be able to run many of those stories on privacy grounds, because despite the widespread interest of the reading public they would not pass a public interest test.
My experience tells me that the old adage that a politician who lies to his wife is more likely to lie to the voters is as true today as it has always been: it tells us something worth knowing about his trustworthiness. But does it tell us anything about a footballer? Judges seem to believe that we should not be told the embarrassing marital secrets of the football stars so admired as role models by team-strip-wearing young boys. That is a dangerous extension of judicial press censorship.
Our blog is deliberately published offshore to make it more difficult for lawyers to enforce judge-granted superinjunctions; it also protects us from any media regulator planned for the post-News of the World future. Every year our readership grows, partly because we are happy still to use entrapment and agents provocateurs, as well as trample on the undeserved privacy of wrong ’uns, grab camera-phone paparazzi pictures of MPs with their mistresses and generally play merry havoc with people in public life who misbehave, lie, cheat or act hypocritically.
I do not claim to be philosopher king. I know that my moral code is not to the taste of everyone. When the blog has overstepped the mark, our readers have let us know; in that sense they are our true regulators. When on rare occasions we face sensitive judgment calls about the most difficult ethical editorial dilemmas we call on a higher authority — a former editor of The Sun. We ask ourselves: “What would Kelvin MacKenzie do?”
The Times has been running a series of tendentious and tenuous Brexit scaremongering stories. Now one of the paper’s journalists has gone so far as to claim that “it’s going to have a calamitous effect on the price of prostitutes”. This is just more scaremongering.
Giles Coren may famously know more about tarts than most men, however his understanding of the post-Brexit border control policy is sketchy. There is no reason why key workers from emerging markets like Brazil and Russia will not find it easier to come into the UK. In any event why does Coren think it a good thing that British working girls should have their prices under-cut by cheap Bulgarian hookers? It is just this sort contemptuous attitude towards the working classes that drove them to vote leave. Coren’s just another debauched, out of touch member of the remoaning, metropolitan media elite…
Unfortunately for Moran, this makes 80% of her Times readers c**ts, as only 20% of Times readers voted for Labour in 2015. This figure pales in comparison to the 55% who voted for the Conservatives in that election.
Even worse for Moran, The Times today officially endorsed the Conservatives this morning.
Can’t wait for her defeat column on Saturday…
UPDATE: Moran has now deleted the Tweet, possibly after a stern word from the boss.
What is it with the LibDems and telling straight lies on their leaflets? The above was delivered in Hornsey and Wood Green over the weekend, quoting an article in The Times as saying “Only the Lib Dems can stop a hard Brexit”. A quick Google reveals this piece was not written by a Times journalist, but instead by the Lib Dem candidate for Manchester Gorton Jackie Pearcey. This leaflet is carrying a straight untruth: these words are from a LibDem candidate and the LibDems are falsely attributing them to the Times. You just can’t trust those lyin’ LibDems…