Ratings for the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme had already taken a hit of late, and the paradox of the increasingly crochety John Humphrys hanging up his Tory Party subscription is that this may help them to recover. The show’s editor Sarah Sands must be hoping so; it would deflect some of that criticism of right-wing bias.
2007 - the overhyped promotion ...
But she has enough embarrassment in her back catalogue to put her time at the Evening Standard, and indeed the Telegraph, in the shade. It was, after all, Ms Sands who penned a gushing Daily Mail magazine article back in 2007 about a young woman whose penchant for bigotry she failed totally to detect. The woman’s name was Katie Hopkins.
Indeed, Hatey Katie got front page billing in that edition of the Mail’s Weekend mag, with her photo accompanied by the caption “Lock up your husbands … The scarlet woman of the Apprentice is on the loose … and looking for trouble”. A comparison of that photo with Ms Hopkins today shows what twelve years of race hate does to someone.
... an embarrassing by-line ...
The accompanying article, meanwhile, demonstrates how Ms Sands got Ms Hopkins all wrong: “She’s been branded predatory and ruthless - but was a broken heart the real reason why The Apprentice’s Katie Hopkins found solace in a string of affairs?” No. It’s because she is indeed predatory, and not a very nice person. That’s why.
But do go on. Ms Hopkins is “polite, friendly, and in terrific shape” … “it is curiously hard to wish this woman ill” … “Hopkins is determined to turn her celebrity to commercial advantage” [that went well, then] “She plans to set up her own brand strategy business, to assist client companies in finding ways to promote their products so they are distinguishable from similar items in the market”. Hatred, sadly, is always just hatred.
... and so to 2017, and ten years' hatred later
But Ms Sands never saw that. Instead, she gushes “she has an openness, and a refusal to take offence, that are captivating. She is also highly intelligent and brimming with energy”. Nowhere does today’s Today editor pick up on the flip side of the refusal to take offence - the inability to show any kind of restraint in giving it. Ask Jack Monroe.
Instead, readers get this priceless comparison: “Do I think she is good company? Yes. Do I think she is a brilliant operator? Yes. Do I think she is a good role model for women? Probably not, but she is much more fun than a Harriet Harman [my emphasis]. Hopkins is too flawed to be a winner, but she is unmistakably a star”. She really wrote that.
Ms Sands does, at least, get one facet of the Hopkins persona right. “Her adulterous affair with her Met Office colleague, Mark Cross, came to a sudden end after the pair were photographed by the News of the World having ‘alfresco sex’. Hopkins is baffled by the fuss. ‘Doesn’t everyone do that?’ she asks”. Plus a priceless coda.
“My taxi driver is shocked and delighted that I am seeing a genuine husband stealer. ‘It is terrible what she does’, he says. ‘I expect she will end up on a porn channel or something. I would watch that’”. Inadvertently, Sarah Sands got Hatey Katie spot on.
Pity she was the one who set Ms Hopkins on her way, though. Repent at leisure, eh?
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