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Wednesday 14 March 2012

Spicing Up The Pesto

It is rare for BBC bashing stories to appear only at the site of one of the usual media suspects: if the Telegraph has it, the Mail has to follow, and at some later time, the Express too. The Sun and Daily Star can be expected to be in hot pursuit. But the Telegraph’s latest, er, expose has failed to garner much follow-on enthusiasm, despite the subject being a favourite target.

That subject is the Beeb’s less than totally modest Business Editor Robert Peston, he of the uniquely penetrating vocal delivery, whose adoption by a spoof Facebook page (“Robert Peston, we know that’s not your real hair”) has sent the Telegraph into a frenzy of less than original investigative journalism. “Peston accused of dying hairthundered the headline, to very little interest.

This may be because the story is not new news: the same paper was reporting onPeston, whose inky black hair has been the subject of some comment” last July. And two years before that, the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not) told that “Peston’s foes snipe that he ‘almost certainly’ (keeping on the right side of the defamation line there) dyes his hair” during another of his tedious and jealous hatchet jobs.

So what’s the Tel’s Beef? Ah well. There is a longstanding grudge held by editorial staff at the paper towards the man from the Beeb, and this involves a third party, one Will “Thirsty” Lewis, now at the Murdoch Times. Lewis and Peston go back a long way, and along that way have shared a lot of information, much of it when Lewis was at the Telegraph.

This, too, was picked upon by the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre: “Is the BBC’s Robert Peston too close to Rupert Murdoch’s man Will Lewis?” came the rhetorical question last July, in a piece which offered as its clinching argument the fact that Peston’s father is a Labour peer. Oh, the shame of it! Only later does it mention that Lewis formerly edited the Telegraph.

And it was while Lewis was in the editor’s chair at the Tel that the Vince Cable sting was pulled, with the paper omitting one key detail, that of Cable telling that he had “declared war on Rupert Murdoch”. Telegraph Media Group had objected to Rupe taking over that part of BSkyB that he did not already own, and Cable getting kicked sideways over his comments was not in their interests.

So management at the paper were distinctly unimpressed when Peston got the full transcript – since ascertained to have been an “inside job” – and blew the gaffe live on air, and to an audience rather larger than that enjoyed by the Tel. Lewis departed before he could be fingered, and bosses at the paper have harboured a seething hatred of both men ever since.

Hence today’s repeat hatchet job.

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