Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Soaraway satire of Sun's editor

Ever since the early hours of 3 November 2005, when she terrorised television's hardest man Ross Kemp (Ross Wade as was, before the estrangement) into summoning the protection of the local law, there's been no gainsaying the bravery of Sun editor Rebekah Wade. Even by the standards of that hilarity, however, the raw courage she showed last week on a rare foray into the public domain demands attention. It isn't every editor who openly challenges her proprietor, let alone with the savage, satirical edge Rebekah unleashed before the House of Lords communications committee.

Without calling Rupert Murdoch a liar, she cast doubt on his own evidence to that committee last September, when he described himself as "a traditional proprietor" who lays down the line for his tabloids to take on party political and EU matters. This Rebekah countered by insisting that he never interferes in her running of the paper. While some will be impressed at how swiftly she reinforced this notion (by mentioning that he rang her at 1.30am with an inside steer on the recent New Hampshire primary), others may, depressingly enough, be reminded of the phrase "working towards the Führer", popularised by the historian Ian Kershaw, whereby officials acted on what they perceived to be Hitler's wishes without needing to be told.

Apart from being distasteful, the analogy is nonsensical because Rebekah also revealed that she wilfully ignores Mr Murdoch's "dismay" at all the celebrity guff she runs (not that he doesn't have reason to be shocked: when he went off to America, the Sun he left behind was still engaged in a vicious turf war with Granta and the London Review of Books). Despite the obvious friction between them, and regardless of having just shepherded the Sun's sales below three million – how these titles survive on such tiny circulations, I'll never understand – Rebekah reassured their lordships that she remains "quite upbeat about the future". No wonder. If and when Mr Murdoch finally tires of her rebelliousness, there will be an empty chair awaiting her at the top table of British satirists.

****

Happily things go more smoothly for Mr Murdoch on another front. The contemptuous defiance he endures from tabloid editors remains thankfully hard to detect among cabinet ministers, especially Culture Secretary James Purnell. In public, he has always seemed touchingly matey with Rupert's son James, and any friendship can only have been strengthened by his hint on Thursday that the forthcoming legislation may oblige the BBC to share its licence-fee income with commercial networks. Any weakening of the Beeb's dominance is, it needs no stating, to the enormous benefit of BSkyB. Mr Purnell's major contribution to the empire to date was a background fixer role, as Tessa Jowell's junior, in the governmental reneging on its pre-existing agreement to keep live domestic Test cricket on terrestrial TV ... a useful start, certainly, but possibly no more than the amuse-bouche for the banquet of Murdochian fealty yet to come.

****

A brief but spine-chilling silence afflicted Radio 5 Live's breakfast show on Friday morning when one-time BBC strike-breaker Shelagh Fogarty teased co-host Nicky Campbell about his singing. You may recall from Celebrity Fame Academy, when he produced what's widely regarded as the finest cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water since Linda Rondstadt, or possibly the Arthur Mullard and Hilda Baker duet, that Nicky treats his voice with the seriousness it deserves, and for a crackling split second you had to fear for Shelagh. Yet it's a sign of how much he's mellowed since the day he reduced our beloved Fi Glover to tears live on air, that the moment passed without incident. Well done, Nicky!

****

Before we come to our own leading radio shock jock, TalkSport titan Jon Gaunt, a brief word about one of America's. The endlessly engaging Rush Limbaugh is accused of using, and reusing, the word "spade" in its racist sense in reference to Barack Obama. If so, give praise that such nastiness doesn't afflict the mainstream media here. It is several years now since the columnist Taki, whose thoughtful weekly musings continue to grace The Spectator (he is currently embroiled in a row with Bernie Ecclestone, whom he called a midget), twice referred to a black man of his acquaintance as "sambo". All a long time ago, as I say, and we won't hear another word on the matter.

****

And so, finally, to favourite columnist Jon Gaunt, a doughty enemy of racism in its myriad forms who uses another otherwise excellent column in Rebekah's Sun to launch a perplexing attack. "Snobby writer Matthew Norman has spent weeks trying to slag me off in The Independent," writes Gaunty, "and now reckons he deserves free tickets to my show in Southend on February 27. Fat chance, Fathead!" Passing lightly over the inventive alliterative wordplay and Gaunty's clever avoidance of witless stereotyping ("Surely that's much too far away," he posits, of Southend, "from your comfort zone of Islington and your skinny lattes"), I'm astonished at this. A few weeks ago, I gladly recorded a message of seasonal goodwill for Gaunty and his TalkSport listeners, at his producer's request, and now this.

Evidently there's some farcical misunderstanding at work, and I look forward to resolving it as a paying visitor (I'm organising a coach trip for the fast growing Leftie Liberals For Gaunty fan club) to the Q&A roadshow, be it in Southend, Bromsgrove, his native Coventry, or even at the Shaw Theatre on the outskirts of London's skinny latte-suffused Islington on 26 April. We're coming for you, Gaunty boy. Be prepared.

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
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
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
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

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn