As if to confirm the claims made by Brian Cathcart and Paddy French this week, in their report “UNMASKED - Andrew Norfolk, the Times Newspaper and Anti-Muslim Reporting - A Case To Answer” (read it HERE), that editorial standards at the Murdoch Times have declined significantly in recent years, the paper has this morning embarked upon a smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. A totally fictitious campaign.
Under the pretentious banner of “Times Investigation”, a contradiction in terms if ever there was one, the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker tell readers “Corbyn too frail to be PM, fears civil service … Concern Labour leader ‘propped up’ by advisors”.
So let’s see what the Murdoch goons have to say. “Senior civil servants have become increasingly concerned about Jeremy Corbyn’s health and warned that he may be forced to stand down as Labour leader because he is not up to the job ‘physically or mentally’ … the future of Mr Corbyn, 70, was openly discussed at an event attended by mandarins this month amid suggestions that he has become ‘too frail and is losing his memory’”.
Ho yus. Do go on. “They say they are increasingly worried about the prospect of him becoming Prime Minister because he is being ‘propped up’ by his advisers , and lacks a firm grasp of both foreign affairs an the domestic agenda … one senior civil servant said ‘When does someone say [he] is too ill to carry on as leader of the Labour Party let alone Prime Minister? There must be senior people in the party who know that he is not functioning on all cylinders’”. “Functioning on all cylinders”, eh? There is more.
“Another said: ‘There is a real worry that the Labour leader isn’t up to the job physically or mentally but is being propped up by those around him. There’s growing concern that he’s too frail and is losing his memory. He’s not in charge of his own party’”. And to that I say bullshit. This is a cheap and crude smear with zero basis in fact.
But how does the Times get those quotes from “Senior civil servants”? Simples. The term “Civil Servant” is one that can be used in a highly elastic manner. It can, indeed, refer to career civil servants. But my suspicion is that, under John Witherow’s editorship, the Times is also prepared to stretch that definition to include political appointees - like SpAds working for, oh I dunno, the Tory Party. Hence the quotes provided to order.
Likewise with the claims that the paper “spoke to dozens of Labour figures including members of the shadow cabinet”. The quotes actually come from “A former cabinet minister” (note: not a former Labour cabinet minister), “Another leading figure”, “Another Labour source”, “One ex-official” (note: not necessarily a Labour ex-official), and “A recent visitor to the Leader’s office”. Recent visitor? Recent Murdoch hack visitor, perhaps?
Times editor John Witherow - overseeing another turkey
See how it can all be cobbled together to look authentic, while being nothing more than a cheap hatchet job produced to the editor’s order? That this is an organised smear is confirmed by the Sun running the same story, although is is not signposted on the paper’s front page. which is given over to Dan Wootton inventing another Royal “exclusive”.
Worse for the Murdoch mafiosi, this story is a prime example or rank hypocrisy. Remember that the Murdoch press enthusiastically backed the Presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan, almost 70 on inauguration, almost 74 on re-election, and whose memory was most definitely failing him before the end of his first term. And there is more.
As Private Eye magazine has told in its latest issue (#1499), under the heading “Fox Flap”, all may not be well with Rupe himself. “DARK murmurings from News Corp suggest that while 88-year-old executive chairman Rupert Murdoch is still with us physically, his mind may be increasingly semi-detached”. What has caused this concern?
“The murmurs took on a new significance last week after filings with the US Securities & Exchange Commission revealed that on 14 June the Dirty Digger personally spent more than $20m buying 600,000 shares in his company Fox Corp - only a week after he had bought exactly the same number but then promptly sold them”.
The filing explained that Murdoch had bought the first lot of shares by mistake. As the Eye muses, “If, while having a senior moment, Rupert can absentmindedly spend more than $20m on shares he didn’t mean to buy, what eight-figure errors will he commit next?”
So when Rebekah Brooks and her editors play the “look at the doddery old bloke who’s losing his marbles” card, they are standing in an increasingly draughty glasshouse.
The Times was once a paper of record. It isn’t any more. Sad, really.
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