Matthew Norman's Media Diary

I can't say fairer than this, Sir Richard

I AM DEMENTED with glee to welcome, as an ally in this column's most obsessive cause, Sir Richard Branson. Regular skimmers of this page will have noted the frequent references to the amazing power exerted over Britain by Rupert Murdoch, but rather than anaesthetise you with more blethering about the News Corp-New Labour cabal that runs the country, let's celebrate Sir Richard's conversion to the cause. Let us also make it clear that it was only his fabled reticence that prevented Sir Richard highlighting the matter before last week, when Mr Murdoch ruined his plans to merge NTL with ITV.

Exactly why the man who controls a huge chunk of British newspaper circulation and television output was permitted to buy almost 20 per cent of the ailing network, purely to ensure that it remains weak and no threat to Sky, it feels futile to ask. The one consolation is that, even if we did have some competition law capable of nipping this embryonic commercial TV quasi-monopoly in the bud, Tony Blair and Tessa Jowell would have wasted no time exempting News Corp from it. And we may be equally confident that when Gordon Brown moves into possession of No 10, and if and when David Cameron follows him, both will also take possession of the holiday home Mr Blair has enjoyed for so long - the one located two inches to the south of Mr Murdoch's colon.

If Sir Richard cares to put his money and his mouth behind a movement lobbying for legislation to end such democratic highlights as Mr Murdoch dictating British policy on Europe, I and others would be overjoyed to publicise its work week after week after week.

As for the decision to abandon publication of If I Did It, OJ Simpson's book on how he would have killed his wife had someone not beaten him to the punch, it's important to acknowledge what drove Mr Murdoch to take it. Let's never forget that he's a born-again Christian whose deep religious beliefs inform every aspect of his life. For as Jesus himself said: "Lo, verily shalt thou censor the scrolls, speak they of Chinese human rights abuses or hypothetically icing the missus, without thought for the commercial implications, but because it is the way of thine heart (Matthew, 4, viii)."

Not everyone agrees that Rupert Murdoch is a malign influence, and Jeff Randall was quick to ridicule the Branson attack in his Daily Telegraph business column. Jeff is famously on the friendliest of terms with Mr Murdoch (he even wangled a rare interview with him for his Five Live show), and whether he might have followed my colleague Stephen Glover's example and declared an interest is entirely a matter for him.

* THANKS TO THOSE of you who have e-mailed a quote in response to last week's appreciation of David Aaronovitch's Times article that dismissed as childish fools those who regard our politicians as a bunch of mendacious rogues. Here is the quote, from a Guardian piece under David's own byline in April 2003, a few weeks before the invasion. "If nothing is eventually found, I - as a supporter of the war - will never believe another thing that I am told by our government, or that of the US ever again," wrote David. "And, more to the point, neither will anyone else." Ah well, they say consistency is a virtue of the mediocre mind.

* ANY OF YOU looking for a stocking filler for a football lover this Christmas is hereby directed to Hold The Back Page! Football's Tabloid Tales by that workaholic seeker of exclusive back page leads Harry Harris - an entrancing collation of snippets, in alphabetical order, about all the football and media folk Harry has known. We may dip into it in the weeks ahead, but for now here's an hors d'oeuvre. "Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality: Herman has been extremely active as the leader of the Kick It Out campaign to eradicate racism from the national sport ... It is an issue upon which I have told him that he will have my total support and commitment." That'll mean the world to him, Harry, what with you working for those anti-racist powerhouses, the Star and The Express.

* FINALLY, AND WITH regret, I must rebuke my favourite columnist, Jon Gaunt of The Sun, for a savage attack on the police. Unleashing the full might of his forensic intellect on the question of whether a teenage boy who sleeps with a pubescent underage girl should come under the same header of paedophile as the groomer of seven-year-olds, and concluding that he most certainly should, Gaunty has a right old pop at Chief Constable Terry Grange, who suggested the distinction.

The problem, I think, is that very much like Esther Rantzen, the lachrymose Gaunty simply cares too much. Even so, this sort of attack is offensive to officers who risk their lives to keep us safe, and to such relatives of theirs as my friend Simon Heffer. What possessed Gaunty to play the metrocentric, smart-arse, police-bashing liberal graduate like this I can't imagine, but I do not expect to see it again.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

Software Developer / Software Engineer

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: Combining a passion for Softwa...

Lead Software Developer / Senior Software Developer / Technical Architect

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: Lead Software Developer / Seni...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried