The iron code of the Daily Mail has one rule above all others: the decision of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is not only final, but also right, and beyond criticism. Once the Vagina Monologue has made that decision, and instructed the attack doggies to go after the selected target, there must be no going back until that target is brought down. To do otherwise is unthinkable.
Backing down doesn't mean I'm f***ing retiring, c***
So today has brought yet another broadside against Channel 4 over the Big Fat Quiz Of 2012, for which the broadcaster has not only not apologised, but has repeated, will repeat again, and about which it has declined to comment. And all the while, the hoped-for barrage of complaints from that army of Mail readers that propelled Sachsgate into the news has failed to materialise.
“Silence of Channel 4 bosses: Board refuses to respond to viewers' fury over obscene quiz” thunders the headline, backed up by talk of “vile sexual slurs” and the faux astonishment that “Both Channel 4 and members of the board have so far refused to comment”. The Mail is like the slobby pub bore who appoints himself saviour of every woman in the bar, only to find himself ignored and unwanted.
And what is remarkable about the continuing determination of the Mail is that no other paper is interested. Nor is any other broadcaster, which should surprise nobody, given the venomousness of past Mail attacks on all of them. On top of that, compared to the same point in the gestation of Sachsgate, the number of complaints isn’t pushing 10,000, but has barely reached 250.
Moreover, the characteristically bullying trawl through the Channel 4 board reveals not some band of lavishly funded luvvies, but after the CEO and Chairman, seven people who are each paid an annual amount of just £22,000. And all but one of them saw the Dacre attack doggies coming and made sure they didn’t get a comment. So there was more bile: “Top Brass Whose Lips Are Sealed”.
Set against that, the Mail’s only talking head willing to be quoted is opportunist Tory MP Conor Burns, backed up by “A media source”, which means someone at the Mail with an opinion – could have been Dacre, of course, but with the effing and blinding edited out. Either way, it is clear that this campaign is running out of road, and that somehow the Mail will have to admit defeat.
Problem is, Paul Dacre is like the figure of Nikita Khrushchev at Stalingrad, ready to order the summary execution of anyone wanting to withdraw from the battle. The abandonment of the attack on Channel 4 will not be a pleasant experience for anyone labouring within Dacre Towers, but for those of us outside the wall it will make for more of that excellent spectator sport.
And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving editor. Retirement comes ever closer.