Our free and fearless press has shown signs of tiring in its coverage of the Coronavirus, and as most of the papers lean right, there is a natural reluctance to give too much weight to the row brewing around Home Secretary Priti Patel and her Civil Servants. If only someone were to deposit a big enough dead cat on the Top Table of News™, there would be something, anything, to wave at readers and get them to Look Over There.
And so it came to pass: by complete coincidence, although with impeccable timing ahead of deadlines for the Sunday papers, Carrie Symonds decided to share a little information on her private Instagram account. As this was a private account, there could be no chance of her news being all over the Sunday front pages. Oh all right, it could. And it was.
All it needed was Ms Symonds to tell - totally privately, you understand - “Many of you already know but for my friends that still don't, we got engaged at the end of last year... and we've got a baby hatching early summer. Feel incredibly blessed”, and to accompany the news with a photo showing alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson giving her a slobbering peck on the cheek, and whap! Dead cat is served.
So who would like to grovel first? Form an orderly queue, obedient hacks … yes, it’s the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph. Well, they didn’t want to cover Priti Patel’s little local difficulty, did they? “No 10 wedding - and a baby too … Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds to marry … Couple expecting child in Summer … Bride-to-be says she feels ‘incredibly blessed’”. Aw, a baby! Look over there! GAWD BLESS ‘EM!
Also grovelling enough to induce projectile vomiting was the Daily Brexit, still calling itself the Express, with “BABY JOY FOR BORIS AND CARRIE … and the happy couple are engaged too”. And hopefully to one another. Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday was in one-upmanship mode with “CRIPES! As Boris and Carrie reveal she’s pregnant, the exclusive inside story of their love … SIX PAGE SPECIAL”. Which prompts one question.
Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street may recall the MoS miraculously assembling a multiple-page exposé on John Whittingdale, in the days following the revelations about his relationship with a known sex worker. As soon as the Whitto dominatrix story was out there, the MoS had a five-page splash ready to go. Which it is highly likely they had prepared some time before, to use in case he incurred their bosses’ displeasure.
What’s the relevance of that? Well, the Carrie-is-preggers rumour had been circulating for at least two weeks. Ms Symonds admitted that she and Bozo got engaged before the end of last year, and if the baby is due “early summer” she’s known about that for a few weeks, too. Moreover, she is a former SpAd and Tory Party spinner, and knows all about deploying dead cats in order to take the heat off the party leadership.
Which is exactly what she did yesterday. In the morning, the Government was pitched into a potentially explosive row with the Civil Service. By late afternoon, Carrie had slung her dead cat on to the table and the terminally useless management of so many mass market newspapers was sitting there transfixed, dribbling “Ooh look, a little baby”.
What you will not read in our terminally useless press. No change there, then.
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