Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Will Fox come out of its lair and go where 'The Sun' already shines?

There is nothing for it, once again, but to bow down in fealty before Rupert Murdoch's preternatural fluidity. Seldom has any political candidate been better designed than Barack Obama – whose views on Iraq, gay marriage, reversing tax cuts to billionaires (like himself), talking directly to nasty foreign tyrants (not like himself; Rupert is very keen to chat with him, and is a naturalised US citizen anyway) and much else – are anathema to the old goat who brought us Fox News. Yet here he is swinging the empire behind America's most liberal senator.

Last week, the Drudge Report highlighted the front page ("He Has A Dream") of a Sun edition that carried an astonishingly warm leader article. The Sun, which employs a phalanx of columnists to reinforce its loathing of immigrants, has fallen in love with a candidate whose message is predicated on his status as the son of an African immigrant. Mr Murdoch admits instructing the New York Daily News, The Sun's closest US equivalent, to support the Illinois senator, so we needn't hold a seance to ask Doris Stokes who played Cupid between Obama and Rebekah Wade. The truth of Rupert's conversion is almost too obvious to state. He reckons that Obama will win handily in November and, just as with Mr Tony Blair in the mid-1990s, wishes to gain leverage by hijacking what he calculates to be an unstoppable bandwagon.

Mr Blair sold whatever passed for his political soul by flying off to that News Corporation pow-wow, of course, and it cost him control over European policy. Mr Obama is a bigger and braver figure, and will doubtless treat Mr Murdoch's request for talks with the froideur it demands. In the meantime, it will be fascinating to learn whether Fox News will follow The Sun's lead by putting its formidable weight behind the candidate who represents almost everything it and its owner passionately loathe.

When the Daily Mirror tarted itself up a while ago, it was generally assumed that this would remain the high point for disastrous newspaper redesigns for decades to come – the industry's equivalent of the long-jump record Bob Beamon set in Mexico City in 1968. So a rousing hats off to The Times for setting a new mark so quickly. We always moan about revamped papers until familiarity breeds acceptance. But this would appear to be the work of a coalition of the blind, the deranged and saboteurs from rival papers, all the way from the page two leaders to relegating the outstanding Jane Shilling to a backwater at the rear of times2. A shocker of a rare order indeed.

Still with times2, what a blow-out it served fans of physical beauty last Tuesday. As if the cover snap of Simon Barnes holding a turkey – a fiendishly droll visual pun on the country he's adopting for the Euro 2008 championship – wasn't delight enough, a host of staff writers were featured inside in other national football strips. Now, myself, I can't get enough of David Aaronovitch's mind, but the appetite for his body is sated by the picture byline above his weekly musings. Enough with the staff pics. More than enough.

Over at the Mirror, meanwhile, what a week for sporting revelations. Over three days, the back page carried exclusives not only about Alex Ferguson's interview with David Frost (covered by every other paper) and Ronaldo's wish to go to Madrid (in The Sun the same day). It also hosted John Cross's exclusive that Saturday's Austria vs Croatia match would bring a keenly awaited punditry debut. "Former England coach Steve McClaren joins BBC Radio 5 Live's coverage of Euro 2008," he began. "His first commentary game will be Austria v Croatia on 8 June." Sorry, I must have mixed up my notes. That wasn't John at all. That was the BBC press release issued on 23 April.

I am increasingly distressed by sniping, on theatrical blogs, at the work of Sunday Telegraph critic Tim Walker (in the manner of my colleague Stephen Glover, I must declare an interest and mention that he replaced my wife in that post). For such paltry reasons as his genius for confusing very minor characters, such as Othello and Iago, certain so-called rivals never leave Tim alone. I would remind the Sunday Express's Mark Shenton and others that Kenneth Tynan himself was prone to this sort of trivial slip. He once wrote that Julius Nyerere was stabbed on the Ides of March, and frequently referred to productions of Falstaff and Juliet, Titus Bramble, Cory Aquino and, of course, Henry the Ford Parts I, II and III (the "histories are bunkum" trilogy, as Ken collectively knew them). Now let the poor lamb be.

Worrying further evidence, finally, of Jon Gaunt's solitary flaw. You will recall how Gaunty avoided confronting "feral youths" on a train, and cancelled the performance of his one-man Q&A for which I'd bought tickets at very short notice ("recording commitments"). Now he's surrendered meekly again after being phoned by John Terry, whom he lacerated the previous week as a "crybaby" for weeping after missing that penalty. Following their chat, Gaunty has gone into reverse once again, declaring that Mr Terry "could become a real leader of men". No one could ever supplant him as my favourite columnist, so I trust he'll take this for the friendly advice it certainly is. The juxtaposition of all the tough talk and the incessant raising of white flags is sending out a dangerously mixed message. Gaunty, boy, you've just got to do something about this yellow streak.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before