Yesterday evening, Shippers told the world “Boris Johnson has asked former Mail editor Paul Dacre to run the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. Charles Moore is close to a done deal to be BBC chairman”. He then overreached himself by adding “Dacre will use Ofcom job to tackle BBC bias and bureaucracy - but will also go after internet platforms who peddle fake news”. There are two glaring howlers in that second Tweet.
One, Ofcom does not have the power to “go after internet platforms”. And Two, Ofcom does not have the power to tackle alleged bureaucracy. Broadcasters can structure their organisations as they wish. This is a dead giveaway, and highlights one of the media establishment’s current failings: not interrogating its sources properly, or even at all.
The impression was already being given that the Dacre and Moore claims were yet another effort by chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings to sling a big enough dead cat on the table to “win” the next iteration of the news cycle, and of course “trigger the Libs”. And that impression was only reinforced when Peter Oborne examined the ST claims and concluded that they did not stand up to scrutiny.
“Keep everything in proportion. Dacre would have even less power at OFCOM than Moore at BBC. This is a smart piece of news management to distract media attention from the mishandling of Brexit, the Covid tragedy and looming economic disaster. Don't fall for this confected row” he told, before concluding that the story was not a serious one.
“This is feeding Dacre to the papers to distract attention from lockdown etc. Read the story carefully. Our friend 'No 10 sources' and our other friend 'Whitehall sources' loom large. Note the application process hasn't been opened for either job. Translation: load of bollocks …I smell Lee Cain, former Daily Mirror chicken man, at work here. Maybe he's the Whitehall source and Cummings is the Downing Street source”.
This was then underscored by Peter Riddell, who is currently Commissioner for Public Appointments, reminding us “Public competitions for the new chairs of the BBC and Ofcom, both regulated by [the Commissioner for Public Appointments], have not yet been launched. Each will involve a Senior Independent Panel Member to provide assurance of a fair and open process as in the Government’s Governance Code”.
Shippers and his fellow hacks appear to have taken dictation from the Polecat and his pals, while failing to interrogate those sources, to produce a story that suits the Murdoch mafiosi, but looks too good to be true. Because it is too good to be true.
The claims are in other papers today, too. But they had unravelled just after 2100 hours yesterday. Cummings whistled the press poodles. And they fell for it - again.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at