Richard Littlejohn is not pleased. His brow still furrowed despite the million quid a year the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre bungs him for churning out two tediously unfunny, unoriginal and un-researched piles of steaming bovine by-product every week, this resident of his gated Florida compound whines “My invitation to appear before the Leveson Inquiry must have got lost in the post”.
Still, he’s not short of comment on proceedings: “the picture of the popular press which is emerging ... is not one I recognise” observes Dick, who uses the diversionary tactic of reminiscence about “the wacky world of Seventies red-top journalism”, and projects opinions onto former journalist Sue Carroll, who died last month. He also paints a picture of hacks agonising over their research.
“Mistakes are made, but never underestimate the agonising and dedication that goes into the business of getting it right” asserts Dick. So we should assume he stopped to think before kicking South West Trains (SWT) over their dismissal of clerk Ian Faletto, saying that SWT were “beyond disgusting”? SWT were later shown to be correct in their actions.
Maybe Dick has also forgotten his vicious attack on the disabled last October, when he told readers that the Motability scheme meant that folks were awarded “free BMWs” (they weren’t), that 3,000 with a “made-up disease” were also involved, and that they were all “swanning around” on the taxpayer? He was agonising so much over that that he did a follow up, talking of folks in free Nissan Qashqais.
Or perhaps he’s had a memory lapse over the totally fictitious story asserting that the BBC had dropped the use of BC and AD in describing dates? The Beeb told the Dacre press that the story was guff, but they still ran it, with the original in the Mail On Sunday then being riffed upon by Peter Mullen and “Mad” Melanie Phillips, and even George Carey, who should have seen the Mail coming.
Not much agonising on view there, Dick, although plenty of dedication – to attacking those that Paul Dacre dislikes, that is. Like the Guardian, of which Dick tells “it continues to lionise Julian Assange”, when the paper has distanced itself from him. And the assertion that “Fleet Street is far more sober ... than I have ever known it” only stands up because no papers are still based on Fleet Street.
But Dick is sure that his view is the right one: “we have to answer to our readers” he points out, and asserts “The press has to reflect the tastes and mores of the age”, rather than the more factual “tastes and mores of the target audience as laid down by Paul Dacre”.
And he offers the kind of whopper that only comes from someone totally divorced from the real world: “We have to stand for election every single day”. If only.