Saturday, October 28, 2006

Express' Nero strikes again

Ordinarily I would offer my sympathies to those who face redundancy. In the case of the egregious UK Daily Express, Sunday Express and the Star titles, which are about to shed a tenth of their editorial workforce, I'll make an exception. To be free of the scandalous Express owner Richard Desmond is a blessing - a liberation from tyranny and a Nero-esque management.

This is the man who sponged £52m - or £1m a week - off his own newspapers in 2004-5 and has given back to the Daily Express a succession of fabricated Diana death splashes despite the actual news agenda on any given day: an insult to its readers, an insult to the memory of Diana whose name alone is now used by Desmond for those micro-sales spikes (usually on Mondays) that fail to disguise circulation decline.

The sadness is that the Express titles can still boast considerable editorial talent dispersed here and there. But to what end? Desmond must be some kind of karmic punishment on the Express for the sins of the great and over-powerful Beaverbrook - a demented, pointless howl before oblivion.

How right the Mail editor Paul Dacre was to denounce this useless, leeching, pornographer in Press Gazette this week. Even the lying grim reaper David Montgomery would have been preferable to Desmond - at least he has some semblance of understanding of newspapers and some concern for what readers appreciate; even if he too despises journalists.

If the law took its course without partiality Desmond would be in jail now for his physical assaults on his staff - all documented elsewhere. Who will ever forget reports of his Basil Fawlty-style Hitler goose-stepping in front of Telegraph executives a few years back?

Thank you New Labour for waving through this unreconstructed hooligan's ownership: his money on you was well spent even if he now reviles you. What is it about Blair that everything he touches turns to shit?

I asked a friend this week, who's unconnected with newspapers: What do you think of the Express? "It's an after-thought, isn't it," she replied without taking breath. That said it all.

PS On Oct 15 the Sunday Express reported that Liz Taylor was to marry for the ninth time. Her intended was her long-term photographer and pal, Firooz Zahedi. This news was repeated all over the world, and by the BBC which still cravenly repeats whatever emanates from anything that has the status of a "national newspaper".

Yesterday Miss Taylor denied she was planning to take a ninth husband. Of Zahedi she said: "We are not, never have been and will never be romantically involved."

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