Friday, December 5, 2014


Is the current squaring up of newspapers and the BBC the sort of spat we all have over the remote control over Christmas - or a more serious Godfather-style falling out of Families ?

You could certainly script the latter. Imagine Chancellor George Osborne yesterday morning travelling in his ministerial car to the Bentley factory in Crewe, chosen by his team as an apposite tv background for his Autumn Statement/Election interviews, which are going to be brilliant even if he hasn't had much sleep. Let's catch up with Today on the car radio. Whoah, it appears we're on the road to Wigan Pier. George, who's been a little wired recently, is furious.

Special Assistant Thea Rogers, ex-producer of BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson, ex-girlfriend of BBC Director of Strategy and Digital James Purnell, and late night confidant of Craig Oliver, former BBC editor-turned-No 10 adviser, suggests George should just get through the warm-up tv interviews, and save his thunder for the one that matters - John Humphrys on Today.

Meanwhile, back at the Broadcasting House Bunker, newly-bearded BBC Director of Communications John Shield has decided the fightback starts here. With skills acquired at the feet of Alastair Campbell in No 10 and Iain Duncan Smith in the Department of Work and Pensions, John and his head of Press Jon Reed put on the tin hats and produce .... a graphic, duly re-tweeted by the Beeb's Twitter army. There. that feels better.

Director of Television Danny Cohen puts his head round the door. Have you seen what The Mirror did to my big tv speech ?  Ignored it, that's what. And worse than that, put a story about Christmas repeats on the front page.  I've already tweeted the so-and-so's a lesson or two about journalism. Noreena helped me write them.

Director of News James Harding is right behind. My mate George has been on the phone - not happy, says there was something on the radio he didn't like, quite early. Has anyone got a transcript ?

What a day.

Today it goes on. Neil Midgley in The Telegraph isn't sure that the graphic is a success. At least one point in the rebuttal is off target. The BBC has increased the number of staff paid more than the Prime Minister since the start of the year.  The Sun, irritated by yesterday's BBC paper review, manages to tweak its editorial on the preposterousness of Russell Brand, into another attack on Auntie.

It's always nasty between politicians, the press and the BBC before an election. It is, I think worse, now we've got a fixed term parliament. If I were Lord Hall, I'd put the BBC on an election footing in all its coverage from today, and start all that boring counting. And get Danny Cohen off Twitter and onto a course about the current economic plight of newspapers and their employees.

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