Those who look regularly on Zelo Street will be familiar with Sun editor Tony Gallagher and his deeply unpleasant behaviour, but that was, in the past, kept within the offices of whichever newspaper was unfortunate enough to have engaged his services. Now, it seems, he’s used his faux hard man persona to kick the BBC.
The Corporation’s Neil Henderson, who with his team brings us Tomorrow’s Papers Today™, has told “A quick note from the team. We've been asked by the Sun not to tweet their front or back pages in future. Sad, but we're happy to continue to promote and cheer on all the other great papers and journalists that make up #tomorrowspaperstoday #embargocat”. The Embargo Cat certainly improves on the average Sun front page.
Spot the howler (England v Croatia is on ITV)
So what’s the problem here? After Kevin Palmer simply asked “Why Neil?” there was a straight bat displayed by Henderson. “I feel that's for The Sun to explain”. It was only after another question that he gave an idea of what had been going on.
Andrew Teacher had tried a different angle, asking “What about the “public interest” defence?” Ho ho ho. But it was at that point that Henderson gave his strongest hint: “I don't want a scrap with @tonygallagher mainly because he'd win”. Well, well.
And despite James O’Brien trying to make light of that by responding “It's like being savaged by a dead sheep. Have a butcher's at my profile” (the Sun has previously called O’Brien “a smug, sanctimonious, condescending, obsessively politically-correct, champagne-socialist public schoolboy Remoaner”), we can see Henderson’s problem.
The BBC does not seek confrontation with the press establishment, and despite all those falls in circulation, the Corporation knows that the organised backlash from Gallagher and his pals in the Murdoch press and elsewhere will do them no good at all.
After all, as Private Eye pointed out not long ago apropos Gallagher’s tenure of the editor’s chair at the Telegraph, “When Tony Gallagher raised his fist to a female journalist in 2007 and threatened to ‘smear you all over that wall’ unless she wrote a story he was demanding, she was quietly paid off to the tune of £100,000 to avoid any scandal”.
There was more. “And when, in 2011, the Review section editor Tom Horan was arrested after knocking his mistress (a subordinate at the paper) to the ground during a violent row at Victoria station, Gallagher not only declined to take any disciplinary action against him but also intervened to ensure that no details of the incident appeared in rival newspapers”.
Yet he is prepared to go on the BBC and whine that others are “menacing papers”. So we won’t be getting an honest answer from The Great Man as to why he has threatened the Beeb. But threaten the Beeb, if only by implication, he certainly has.
The really odd thing is that there is next to nothing of any great consequence on the average Sun front page - bar the lies, smears and faux laddism. Oh, and howlers - like the Sun on Sunday claiming the England v Croatia World Cup semi-final will be broadcast on BBC1 next Wednesday. It’s going to be screened by ITV.
The Sun - pretend journalism overseen by a pretend hard man. No change there, then.