The Murdoch goons at the Baby Shard bunker moved swiftly to distance themselves from their deeply unpleasant former editor Kelvin McFilth the other day, although questions would still be asked why they did not do the deed rather earlier. And, as I told yesterday, they had good reason to act quickly - Rupert Murdoch cannot allow anything to get in the way of his bid for the 61% of Sky he does not yet own.
So the usual Murdoch way, protecting the intimates of the Cosa Rupra and suggesting that the rest of the world run along and forget about having any influence on the Mafiosi’s decision making, had to be tempered with the thought that what happened six years ago to the late and not at all lamented Screws might happen again - bad behaviour by a Murdoch paper effectively derails a Sky bid. But there is further to go - much further.
For starters, the Murdoch goons can start coming clean and telling readers the truth, unaccustomed though its hacks and pundits might be to such activities. When the Sun issued its statement on the suspension of Kelvin McFilth, they also claimed “The paper was unaware of Ross Barkley’s heritage and there was never any slur intended”. Liverpool’s current Mayor, Joe Anderson, wasn’t too sure about that one.
This is what the Sun said in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: “As a junior, Ross was so keen to play for his boyhood heroes that he used to make a two-hour round-trip, taking four buses, to get to training sessions … He also had the option to play for Nigeria through a grandfather, but picked the Three Lions and made his full England debut last September against Moldova” [my emphasis].
So that’s a straight-A Pants On Fire for the Murdoch clowns, then. And it gets worse: despite all the talk of distancing themselves from Kelvin McFilth, look what today’s bumper Sunday Sun contains … yes, a full page advert for A Spokesman Said. That’s Kel’s piss-poor price comparison website which he plugs incessantly in his equally piss-poor Sun column. Can it get even worse? It certainly can.
That’s a full page advert - costing tens of thousands of pounds minimum. Who paid for it? That matters - because unless Kel’s website paid for it - all of it - then the Murdoch goons have not properly distanced themselves from their former editor. Why might he get the ad at mates’ rates? Possibly because Rupert Murdoch himself has partly bankrolled A Spokesman Said, that’s why. It looks bad - because it is bad.
Campaigning groups like Avaaz, 38 Degrees, Hacked Off and now Media Matters for America will have seen that advert, and the Sun editorial staff blatantly lying about their knowledge of Ross Barkley’s heritage, and will be piling on the pressure, making sure Ofcom know what is going on. Of course, the Murdoch clowns could quit driving this one round the houses and just sack the SOB. So they have to ask themselves one question.
How much do they really want to keep the Sky bid in play? If they are serious, News UK will stop the charade and sack Kelvin McFilth. And stop plugging his website. Job done.