January to June 2013
The Guardian in a leader on Margaret Thatcher: "Her legacy is of public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed, which together shackle far more of the human spirit than they ever set free."
The Daily Telegraph in a leader: "Despite the widespread tributes on her passing yesterday, Lady Thatcher, of all people, would not have expected her enemies to wipe the slate clean in death. To paraphrase the words of St Francis of Assisi which she quoted on entering Downing Street, she certainly brought truth where there was error, but to deliver harmony was never her fate."
The Daily Mail in a leader: "She was a giant, beside whom other peacetime politicians of the 20th and 21st centuries look like mere pygmies."
Simon Kelner in the Independent: "Above anything else, Mrs Thatcher implanted the gene of greed in the British soul. And, in the end, that is the poison of her legacy."
Harry slams press
Prince Harry in an ITV News interview slams the British press: “All it does is upset me and anger me that people can get away with writing the stuff they do. My father (Prince Charles) always says don't read it, everyone says don't read it, because it's always rubbish. I'm surprised how many in the UK actually read it.”
Mark Ogden in the Telegraph on Alex Ferguson and the press: "Many reporters have been banned, myself included, for a vast number of random reasons. They have been banned for getting stories wrong and getting them right. Others have been exiled for writing books about Ferguson or making oblique references that have irked him deep within their articles. Yet Ferguson’s departure will be mourned by those who are employed to report on United, regardless of the bans, the hairdryers and the flying voice recorders. One sentence from Ferguson can carry more weight than a thousand words from his managerial counterparts – which can be a negative as well as positive quality – but being witness to the Ferguson years at United has been a rare privilege."
Private Eye on coverage of Alex Ferguson's retirement: "Perhaps the most spectacular example of Stockholm syndrome was displayed by the BBC. Having been sent to Coventry by Ferguson for a full seven years after daring to expose his son Jason's activities as a football agent - a ban which ended only in 2011 - the corporation found the perfect pundit to pay tribute to Sir Alex on Radio Five Live. Step-up long-standing Fergie friend and fellow Labour stalwart Alastair Campbell, the man whose rabid desire to 'fuck Gilligan' over the BBC's WMD story in 2003 brought the corporation as close to extinction as it has ever been."
Snowden snooper scoop
|Guardian Edward Snowden scoop makes four splashes|
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in the Guardian: "I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me."
Matthew Ingram on PaidContent: "The fact that both Greenwald and the Guardian are to some extent 'outsiders' may have helped them land what could be one of the biggest national-security stories since Watergate. And the stories — a series that Greenwald says has only just begun — will undoubtedly burnish the Guardian‘s reputation in the U.S., not to mention its web traffic."
Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog: "The breaking of the Snowden revelations story must surely put The Guardian in line for a Pulitzer, making it the first British newspaper to win the award."
Ben Brogan in the Telegraph on Edward Snowden: "A close reading of his manifesto, with his talk of a “federation of secret law” ruling the world, CIA hit-squads, surveillance nets on the verge of activation and his right to act against a duly constituted, democratically elected government, suggests he has spent too much time watching Hollywood DVDs on his laptop and studying conspiracy theory forums on the web. Whether he is naive, deluded or malicious, he has generated a drama that is more about the fantastical steps he took to put himself beyond America’s grasp than the content of the classified information he released."
Boris Johnson in the Telegraph on the NSA allegations: "I think if I were Shami Chakrabarti, or my old chum David Davis, I might get thoroughly aerated at this point; and I have some sympathy with their general position. But then I am afraid I also have sympathy with our security services, and their very powerful need to use the internet to catch the bad guys – the terrorists, the jihadis, the child porn creeps. There is a trade-off between freedom and security, as Barack Obama rightly says; between the citizen’s right to total internet privacy, and the duty of the state to protect us all from harm."
Bell on Bondage
Cartoonist Steve Bell in a Guardian video on his portrayal of George Osborne: "Why is George in bondage gear? Well, I was having a bit of a problem drawing George. The whole point about George's stance is its about restraint, restraint, restraint, cuts, cuts, whips, whips, straps, straps, chains, chains... "
People Nigella scoop
Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog: "A couple of weeks ago I asked whether there was any point to the continued publication of the Sunday People. Ever since – and I know it's not because of what I wrote – the paper has been coming up with must-read stories. But none was more spectacular than yesterday's old-fashioned Fleet Street scoop – the pictures of Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi. Talk about agenda-setting. The Twittersphere went crazy. News website hits went off the scale. Every newspaper followed it up. It went round the world because Nigella is a global brand."
Downfall of Chris Huhne
The Sun in a leader: "Be in no doubt. Were it not for The Sunday Times, lying Lib Dem toad Chris Huhne would be sitting bold as brass in the Cabinet today. Indeed, he might have been Deputy PM. He was a whisker from beating Nick Clegg to the Lib Dem leadership in 2007. Those urging a Leveson law to muzzle the Press should reflect hard on yesterday’s sensational events."
Good news vs bad
Charles Moore in the Telegraph accusing the national press of being dominated by bad news compared to the local media: "Local papers and broadcasters are unashamedly on the side of the areas they serve. Of course they relish scandals, but they also delight in successes. At flower and dog shows, if local papers are to be believed, rain always 'fails to dampen the spirits'. National papers only really get interested when every exhibit is swept away in a tidal wave or, as happened recently at a dog show in Kent, people start punching one another."
Peter Hirsch posts on Charles Moore's article : "Thank you, Charles. Now perhaps you could just post the link to that dog show in Kent?"
Fox reveals face
Susie Boniface (aka Fleet Street Fox) reveals herself in The Times [£]: "It’s funny, my real name, Susie Boniface, has been in papers for 18 years and Fleet Street Fox has been around for five minutes, but she’s better known than I am. Recently someone told me: 'Wow! You’re Fleet Street Fox! If anyone can be trusted, you can.' Very flattering, but it puts a dent in your self-esteem when your creation is more popular than you are. Added to which, my — her — story is about to be read by more strangers than ever. It’s a bit like being married, only she is someone I can’t divorce."
Harolds Evans on 'arrogant' press
Sir Harold Evans giving the Hugh Cudlipp Lecture: "As depressing as exposure of the dark arts has been, it is deepened by the cynicism and arrogance of much of the reaction to Leveson, coming from figures in the press who did nothing to penetrate - indeed whose inertia assisted - the cover-up conducted into oblivion by News International, a cover up which would have continued, but for the skill of Nick Davies and the courage of his editor."
Mair bashes Boris
|Mair and Johnson (Pic: BBC)|
Eddie Mair to Boris Johnson on the Andrew Marr Show: "You're a nasty piece of work, aren't you?"
John Kampfner in the Guardian: "Many on the liberal-left sense a once-in-a-generation opportunity to 'tame' the unruly papers. They believe a more decent society cannot be achieved with the media we currently have, so it's time to act. Rather than seeing free expression as the bedrock of a strong society, they see it as providing an opportunity for nasty people to bludgeon nasty views on to a vulnerable public. They cannot tolerate an intolerant press."
Congregation of 'bastards'
|St Bride's Fleet Street|
Sexism in the City newspaper office
Cathy Newman in the Telegraph: "Some of the most glaring instances of sexism directed at me took place in newspaper offices or at the hands of newspaper executives. When I worked for the Financial Times, I confronted a senior executive about the fact that a man who was significantly junior to me was getting paid a lot more. The executive asked me what I needed the money for, since I didn’t have a mortgage or a family. I laughed it off and made sure I got a pay rise. Slightly more intimidating was the time, ironically at a political party conference, when a man who was then the editor of a national newspaper started propositioning me in the bar, despite knowing I was in a long-term relationship, and despite my making it patently clear that I wasn’t interested."
Guardianistas vs Mail
Zoe Williams in the Guardian: "The Daily Mail reminds me a little bit of climate change: you think you've got the measure of just how bad it is, but every time you look it's taken another appalling leap forward. Yesterday, following the conviction of the Philpotts for the manslaughter of their six children, it called Mick Philpott the "vile product of welfare UK". The cynicism, the lack of respect for the dead, the dehumanising terminology (he "bred" the children, it says); the front page alone told us all we need to know."
Daily Mail in a leader: "As the debate over welfare reform rages on, one mystery increasingly perplexes and infuriates the Guardianistas of the well-heeled, middle-class Left. Why, they ask over the Chablis, do the working-class poor so stubbornly refuse to share their enlightened belief in the wonders of the welfare state? To their bemusement, poll after poll has shown that three-quarters of voters (including most Labour supporters) want benefits reined in, with the clamour for cuts at its loudest among workers at the bottom end of the pay scale."
Caitlin Moran on her family values
Caitlin Moran in The Times [£]: "My father raised eight children on welfare benefits, and didn’t kill any of us. I feel I should say that this week. I feel I need to firmly point to a large family raised on public handouts who were normal, and gentle, and never set fire to their house during a personal vendetta against a former lover."
Murder in Woolwich
Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger in the Guardian on the paper's front page on the Woolwich murder (above): "This was an extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented, event. In broad daylight on a British street a man was hacked to death allegedly by someone who then essentially gave a press conference, using Islamist justifications. It was, by any standards, a unique news picture – but in a new media context in which the killer's message had already been distributed around the world virtually in real time."
Guardian readers' editor Chris Elliott in his Open door column on the same front page: "It was right to use the picture and the video, as both were crucial to an understanding of the event. It's not the first time shocking images have been run on the front page. However, the effect of the quote embedded in the photograph meant the message was unmediated."
Ben Brogan about Twitter on his Telegraph blog: "Politically, the micro-blogging site has become a weapon of mass destruction. Where Alastair Campbell complained about the drumbeat of the 24-hour news channels, Mr Cameron must contend with the minute-by-minute verdict of social media, where his performances and policies are scrutinised, judged and discarded instantly. Where journalists used to meet in the bar, they now exchange gags and gossip on Twitter. It is a political accelerant."
When interviews go bad...
Michael Hann on the Guardian's Music Blog on interviewing drummer Ginger Baker (top) in front of a live audience: "I've had peculiar interviews before. I once sat on the floor in the dressing rooms at Spurs' training ground to talk to Sol Campbell, while John Scales stood just to my right, listening in. He was naked. His penis kept dangling in and out of my eyeline at disconcertingly close range. But I've never had any interview experience quite so unsettling as half an hour with Ginger Baker in front of a couple of hundred people. It's not something I want to repeat."
Janice Turner in The Times: "I’m not sure where it started to go wrong with Rhys Ifans. A truly awful interview can catch you like a cloudburst in August. How quickly his answers escalated through disdain to disgust then mad-eyed vibrating hostility until he announced 'I am bored with you' and stalked out, leaving his publicist hand-wringing and ashen."
- Quotes of the Year Part 2, next Friday