It worked spectacularly well for the appallingly clueless Tim Montgomerie, who misunderstood the phone hacking scandal comically badly in a Guardian Comment Is Free piece, but used the same article to sing Murdoch’s praises. He has since joined the Times and even allowed to write leaders for the paper. This example has not been lost on others, even those whose previous service at Rupe’s papers has not been successful.
Hence we see the loathsome Toby Young browning his nose in no style at all as he simpers “Delighted that @thesunnewspaper is now campaigning to persuade @David_Cameron to admit child refugees”. Then comes the Telegraph’s not celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, and “The Sun has called on the government to help the refugees. Just for once could we put down the pitchforks and say ‘well done’”.
Is Hodges’ comment an isolated incident? Well, no it isn’t: following that one, he left his audience in no doubt that what the Sun had done was A Good Thing. “We don't want Sun readers helping migrants do we. We've got a political point to make” he chided one Tweeter. “Don't want Sun readers helping refugees do we. Wrong sort of reader” he sneered at another. Yes, the Sun was OK, right?
And then, after another snipe at someone of differing opinion “Don't want Murdoch's readers wanting to help save refugees do we”, came this highly revealing coda: “They've said we need to take in more refugees. As a result we will take in more refugees. That's good and we should say so”. In Hodges world, the Sun makes Government policy.
This is not an isolated occurrence. When the Sun splashed its alleged Royal Nazi salute story, and was much ridiculed, there was Dan in support, telling “If the Sun reported the second coming people would attack them for an intrusion of privacy. That film is an important piece of our history”. Two days later it was “Right or wrong, Rupert Murdoch is one of the only people in journalism who looks like he believes in something”.