A word on Roger Alton's shambolic appearance on Newsnight last night. I was surprised that the Times wheeled out its decrepit executive editor to counter the suave super-hero of the hour Hugh Grant on the topic of phone hacking. At one point Lord Fowler dismissed Alton's lame attempts to defend the press as 'rubbish'. And cringe-worthy was Alton's fake justification for hacking when he asked rhetorically whether it had value as an investigative tool if it exposed a paedophile scandal.
Like many other journalists he seemed oblivious to the small matter of illegality.
Alton himself is a curious sight, part Harry Hill, part fall guy in a Benny Hill sketch. The late comedian would have patted Alton's bald head and sent him on his way with a kick to the arse. How such a man lacking in any obvious sign of intellectual accomplishment, any philosophical coherence whatsoever, or just plain street-smarts, came to edit the Observer and Independent is well beyond my understanding.
Only the other day, he made a complete fool of himself on TV when he attacked Mumsnet for its campaign against the late News of the World. Instead of expressing proper regret over Milly Dowler and other cases, he ridiculed Mumsnet members as 'yummy mummies' and 'organic shortbread' eaters, and castigated them for making poor hacks unemployed. All very Alf Garnet.
This is the man - Roger, not Alf - who of course at the Observer cosied up to Blair and Campbell and supported the Iraq War, all because he was flattered by their courting of him. That such an oaf of a man splutters on in a senior role at The Times is itself yet further evidence of the mental rot in British print journalism.