Two of several from the new Eye, out today...
Having forced through a below-inflation licence fee agreement earlier this year, Gordon Brown last week added insult to injury for the BBC by appointing James Purnell as the new minister for culture, media and sport.
Not only is Mr Purnell a former apparatchick of the loathed John Birt, serving under the then director-general in the BBC's corporate affairs department from 1995 to 1997, but his most recent contribution to BBC-government relations was to host the notorious auction last year at which a copy of the Hutton report signed by Cherie Blair was sold to raise funds for the Labour party.
The Sun declared itself its approval of “Gordon’s Young ‘Uns”, praising every member of the new Prime Minister’s “youthful cabinet”… except one.
“Why the hell has he picked a ferocious anti-American as Minister for the UN?” the paper’s editorial column demanded, homing in on an obscure junior minister, Mark Malloch-Brown. “Nobody here knows Lord Malloch-Brown. But the White House is acutely aware of his bitter personal attacks on Mr Bush and his tirades against the Gulf War. Malloch-Brown is entitled to his opinion. But he should not be a member of the British government. His appointment casts a shadow over Mr Brown’s new-broom Cabinet.”
While most other publications seemed to agree that the new Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN was a relatively blameless herbert, the Times was equally outraged. “This self-promoting former Deputy UN Secretary-General has made some crude public remarks about the US Administration along with the slightly unhinged assertion that the UN’s failure to act decisively on Darfur is partly the fault of the US and UK for invading Iraq,” its leader column huffed. “It will be interesting to see what is uncovered by investigations into the UN Development Programme under his tenure. Lord Malloch-Brown’s elevation is believed to be part of the Prime Ministers’s scheme to bring in ‘all the talents’. He should approach this venture with far more caution. It may sound noble in theory but it could easily result in crass tokenism in practice.”
Could this vitriol be in any way connected to Malloch-Brown’s very public complaint in June 2006 that the UN failed to receive fair coverage because “much of the public discourse that reaches the US heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors, such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News,” which was determined to keep “the UN's role in effect a secret in Middle America”? Presumably not – for Rupert Murdoch, who just happens to be the proprietor of Fox News as well as the Times and the Sun, has on several occasions given assurances that he never interferes with the editorial lines of his newspapers.