Matthew Norman's Media Diary

With genuine regret, we return to the vexing matter of Gerald Kaufman.

With genuine regret, we return to the vexing matter of Gerald Kaufman. While Gerald's stewardship of the Commons' Media Select Committee continues to delight, his personal behaviour raises concern. The old sweetheart seems incapable of appearing in public these days without getting into a scuffle.

Last week's ruck, in Brighton, involved pro-hunt protesters ("a baying mob", as this sworn enemy of hysterical overreaction put it), whom he accused of being partly motivated by anti-Semitism. You can see why he might believe this. Fox is a very common Jewish surname, for one thing, while the resonance of men in bright red jackets on horseback needs no spelling out to those of us who are descended from victims of the Tzarist pogroms.

Were the famous Stamford Hill Hunt still going, things might be different. But they're not, and whatever the provocation, it does nothing for the dignity of our industry that its overseer was heard telling these latter-day Cossacks to "fuck off" a reported dozen times. Not so long ago, Gerald was involved in a skirmish with a group on whom even he might struggle to make the anti-Semitism charge stick, when worshippers took against his anti-Sharonist stance at St John's Wood Synagogue.

I know Gerald will take it in the right spirit if I point out that there are scores of excellent anger management courses available. Or, failing that, non-addictive tranquillisers. It would be a disaster if all the tremendous work Gerald does for the media became submerged by this swelling tide of public disorder.

* This will doubtless prove to be cobblers, but, according to a whisper in the States, Matt Drudge is poised to unleash another scoop - namely, that US forces have captured Osama bin Laden, and that Mr Bush is saving the announcement for the days before the election. Logic suggests that the converse conspiracy theory - that Osama may be planning an electoral contribution of his own, along the lines of Madrid - is equally credible. Even so, if Drudge does stick the claim on his website, it is worth noting that he has a more impressive record of accuracy than this column is ever likely to achieve.

* I am besotted with the website of that energetic PR firm, Freud Communications. Flashing across the home page are four testimonials designed to entice potential clients. That three of them come from executives at papers owned by Matthew Freud's father-in-law, Rupert Murdoch, we may pass over as a minor instance of Jungian synchronicity. The question is how they came to be given. "We trust them and that is what really matters," declares a Sunday Times man, while Dominic Mohan of The Sun has this to say. "What makes FC stand out from their so-called rivals is that they actually know what a story is. They don't just simply demand a shameless plug." As so often, Dominic puts his finger on it. A shameless plug is the last thing Freud would demand. Meanwhile, the editor of a non-Murdoch title receives an unsolicited request to supply words of praise for the website.

I've asked it many times before, and in the absence of an answer I ask it again: would Steve Jones, Richard Dawkins or any other leading geneticist please explain how we went from Sigmund to Matthew, via Clement, in three generations? And at this rate of anti-evolutionary progress, how many more generations will it take before one of the family sires a caveman?

* With Peter Wilby away from his desk, the scrap for the non-existent vacancy in his New Statesman editor's chair intensifies.

A while after pressing his claims over dinner with the owner, Geoffrey Robinson, political editor John Kampfner switches strategy from ingratiation to mordant wit. Mr Kampfner has taken to telling a joke about the barely less ambitious Christina Odone, Mr Wilby's deputy.

Q. "How many Christina Odones does it take to change a light bulb? A. Ten. "One to change the light bulb, and nine to ring the gossip columns to tell them how John Kampfner has been trying to stop her changing the light bulb."

It would seem political punditry's gain was the stand-up circuit's loss.

* Our thanks to Alex Brummer, the Daily Mail's City editor, for his thoughts on the effect of moving from broadsheet to compact on coverage of the Middle East. Foreseeing The Independent "peppering the front page with statistics and quotes from the Gaza Strip", this Tiresias of the fiscal press ends an article in The Jewish Chronicle on a sombre note. "Unfortunately, in recent times, black and white attitudes in much of the British media have cast Israel as the bad guy and the Palestinians as the injured party. So don't expect balance." No one likes to be lectured about impartial reporting, of course, but when it comes from the Daily Mail, it's very hard not to listen.

* Finally to Alastair Campbell, who sent us scurrying for the Kleenex when telling the Radio Times that he wonders if he'll ever do anything worthwhile again. He's too harsh on himself. Not long ago, Alastair presented the prizes at The Lawyer magazine's annual awards, and that was worthwhile. Not only did he get an agreement that he wouldn't be photographed handing an award to James Dingemans, counsel for Lord Hutton's inquiry; he also picked up £12,000.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Graduate Print Producer / Account Executive

£18 - 25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Graduate Print Producer / Account Execut...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Digital Marketing Assistant - Wimbledon

£18000 - £19000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Digital Marketin...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'