Matthew Norman: Beware the revenge of the Sky News Ninja
Monday 22 February 2010
Now that she's achieved the dream of all British performers by cracking America, fears mount that we may not be able to hold on to Kay Burley for long. The Sky anchor is currently starring on The Drudge Report and the Huffington Post after musing on Wednesday as to how Joe Biden came by the grey mark on his forehead.
"I'm sure that's what everyone's asking him," said Kay. "He's probably been having a go on those tea trays down the luge. Anyway, no matter". No matter indeed, the day after the fatality in Vancouver. In fact, as Kay perfectly well knew, the VP had daubed ash on his forehead to mark Ash Wednesday according to Catholic tradition. Sad to report, US media analysts interpreted this as ignorance. Cobblers. Admittedly this isn't the first time Kay appeared confused in a human head-religion context. Her critics will point to the time she asked the Hindu deity Ganesh about the make-up challenges involved in playing the title role in Elephant Man: The Musical. But then as now, she was playing dumb in the hope of hurdling the requisite idiocy hurdle for a transfer to News Corp stablemate Fox News ... just as on September 11 2001 when she told her audience: "If you're just joining us, the entire eastern seaboard of the United States has been decimated by a terrorist attack."
That wasn't stupidity either. It was professionalism. Identifying the danger that a story of borderline global interest would soon be relegated to the "and in other news..." bit just before the weather, she was trying to give it fresh legs. Apart from recently enticing Peter Andre into sobbing on air, Kay's other major triumph came in 2008, outside the courtroom in which Naomi Campbell was being tried, when she resolved a minor dispute by taking a photographer by the throat and pinning her against a wall. Kay Burley is more than the smartest cookie in the biscuit barrel of rolling news. She's the News Ninja, and if that doesn't give Fox's Roger Ailes the title for an early evening show, I can't imagine what will.
On the other hand, Kay could decide to sit tight and wait for David Cameron to repay Rupert Murdoch's electoral support by decimating the entire Eastern seaboard of regulations governing impartiality in broadcasting. Then Rupert can execute his cherished ambition to recreate his cash cow Fox News over here – a development to be expected within 18 months of a Tory win. The jockeying for position may already have begun. Kelvin MacKenzie's recent Sun column paean to Fox's Bill O'Reilly looked like a subtle application for the portly, balding, frothingly right wing iconoclast role. Finding our own Glenn Beck, who last week barked on air like a starving coyote, isn't so easy. There was a time when Jon Gaunt seemed the obvious fit, and if Fox's statutory minimum IQ qualification (above averagely bright mountain gorilla) can be waived, he may still have a shot. But exiled at SunTalk as he is, Gaunty wants to start raising his profile forthwith.
In the Daily Mirror, meanwhile, the Prime Minister endured a second brutal inquisition inside a few days. The Torquemada this time was Fiona Phillips, right,who teased from Gordon some insights into motherhood ("Growing up, there's so much that ... your mother does for you ..."; "Your mother is so central to everything that you are ..."; "a mother ... can recognise your talents ..."). Fiona's rigorous interviewing technique, as displayed in a piece carrying the line "This article appears in Tesco magazine" in tiny type at the bottom, earns her Mirror Exclusive of the Week.
Well, I never
Elsewhere in The Sun came a challenge to Ray Gosling for Shock Media Revelation of the Week. It is the sovereign duty of the red-top opinion former to shock the reader, so well done to guest columnist Ken Livingstone on detonating this bombshell: "I never voted for Mrs Thatcher..."
Murdoch, master of new media
However well his masterplan for British Fox News may progress, the rearguard campaign by Rupert Murdoch to master new media continues to splutter.
"The thing that's going on at News Corp right now is total, total desperation over this digital stuff," insists biographer Michael Woolff. "Rupert, the guy who knows nothing about this whatsoever, is suddenly commandeering this whole thing. It's got everybody completely freaked out.
He absolutely has no idea – I cannot stress this enough, how much Rupert is out to lunch on this.
"If people really quite understood how little feeling he has for this business, they would fall down laughing – or crying." Or crying with laughter. One of the three.
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