After the latest series of BBC motoring show Top Gear ended, Chris Evans volunteered his resignation. The show had not worked as well as he had hoped, and although he had given it his best shot, ratings had fallen during the series run. He was perhaps also affected by the tsunami of vicious knocking copy from many in the press who were not interested in what he was doing, but just wanted to target him out of spite.
I read the Mail Online story, and then laughed so much ... that I almost shat myself
Two papers that had been in the vanguard of the Evans baiting were the Murdoch Sun, who were batting for Jeremy Clarkson, who was one of their own, and had been sacked by the Beeb for an act of gross misconduct, and the Mail, which was in it just for the BBC bashing. By the most fortunate of coincidences, both have now happened upon another way to bash Evans - using Clarkson’s new show.
First with the story was Mail Online, which has posted an alleged story from northern Italy claiming “Former Top Gear presenter James May says he is ‘chuffed’ Chris Evans was forced to quit after his first, disastrous series in charge of the show”, although May later warned his Twitter followers not to believe anything the paper puts out.
The thought that this story may have been at the limits of the most elastic definition of creativity entered when the May quote was followed by this observation on the arrival of Clarksom, May and Richard Hammond in central Vicenza: “Crew working on their show claimed Clarkson intentionally staged the scenes of chaos in the stunning piazza as ‘a two fingers up’ to his TV rival, Evans … ’Jeremy’s been trying to keep quiet about it, but he’s pleased as punch,’ one unnamed cameraman said”.
See the switch? The crew of The Grand Tour, Clarkson’s new show, said their man staged the scene in Vicenza’s Piazza del Signori - factual and true, Jezza Tweeted out the venue the previous day and invited all who were in the area to come along. Then the Mail invents the “two fingers up” quote and tacks on a comment form “one unnamed cameraman”, who, it is implied, was part of the same crew - but most likely was the one used by the Mail.
This enables the “one unnamed cameraman” to slag off Evans, while all the time the impression is given that Clarkson’s team are behind it all. Sure enough, the “one unnamed cameraman” then tells “‘He’s kept his mouth shut about Evans the whole time, and now Evans has hung himself by his own rope without Jeremy getting involved … ’It’s ironic because Evans was a massive Top Gear fan, but he’s ruined it for himself by taking the top job job on the show.’”. Ker-ching! Just what the Mail ordered. Journalism, eh?
The Sun then comes along and inflates the story a little more, telling their own readers “despite his lack of comment, crew working on the show revealed that Jeremy arranged the scenes as a ‘victory lap’ and ‘two fingers up’ to his failed successor”. Wallop!
This is what passes for journalism today. And it’s not good enough. No change there, then.