The Feral Beast
Sunday 24 February 2008
Dr Phil misses the symptoms of anonymity
Stethoscopes at dawn. An awkward moment on Channel 4's 'Richard and Judy' when Dr Phil Hammond (pictured) tried to "out" rival media doctor Max Pemberton as a fraud. "Who are you anyway?" he suddenly asked. "I've looked you up and you're not listed on the GMC website." Pemberton is known for his 'Telegraph' column "Trust me I'm a junior doctor", but as everyone in the media knows, Max Pemberton is a pen name. "It was a bit surprising when Phil deviated from the script," says 'Pemberton'. "It was nice that he had looked me up before the programme, but everyone knows Max is not my real name. It's not a massive secret."
Water way to run a paper
In a week when everyone, from ministers to the BBC, piled into the bottled water debate, calling the £2bn industry an "ecological nightmare", how outré of 'The Daily Telegraph' to run a promotion for free bottles of, er, water, while also printing articles calling for readers to switch to the tap. Fortunately, Julia Hailes, author of one, has an explanation. "This sort of thing happens all the time, not least in government. One minute they're signing Kyoto, the next they are planning a fifth runway at Heathrow. This is a small example of a wider problem."
Ed avoids rubber cheque
Still no white smoke at the 'New Statesman' on who will succeed John Kampfner as editor. Rumour has it his departure was scheduled for a month ago, but was postponed after talks with proprietor Geoffrey Robinson. The good news is that Kampfner has secured himself a decent payout, to be paid directly into his bank. When Peter Wilby left, his farewell cheque bounced.
Not Business as usual
A sad farewell to 'Spectator' deputy editor Stuart Reid, who stood down after this week's edition had gone to bed on Wednesday. Reid, who joined the Speccy from 'The Sunday Telegraph' in 1999, will now rejoin the 'Telegraph' comment desk. A farewell tea was laid on, where Reid paid tributes to colleagues, including those leaving the company now that 'The Business' has folded. "There's no business like no business," quipped Reid.
Cycle rage at ‘Guardian’
The relocation of 'The Guardian' later this year to swanky new premises in King's Cross will shorten the commute for staffers from north London. But an outcry has arisen as the new site has rack space for only 200 bikes, and pedestrians have been up in arms over the closure of the pavement while the new building is being constructed, which has forced them on to a road thundering with lorries. It's not easy being green.
‘Flat Earth’ sells mountains of copies
Nick Davies's book 'Flat Earth News' has been selling like proverbial toasted teacakes despite hostile reviews. It is about to enter its fourth print run after online booksellers sold out within days of its launch on Thursday 7 February. A particularly scathing review by Peter Preston appeared in that Saturday's 'Guardian', and by the afternoon the paper's online bookshop had sold out. "It has been moving very fast," says Davies, "despite a campaign to pour scorn on the book." A more effective campaign might have prevented reviews appearing at all.
Seasoned journalist Boris Johnson had no trouble handling the feral beasts of the Commons press gallery over lunch. "How are you going to address the fact that a lot of voters will worry that a man who lies to his wife will lie to voters?" asked one female beastie. A good call perhaps. "I don't think that voters really worry about these things in the way the media do." One nil to Boris. But a question from Kevin Maguire of the 'Daily Mirror' sent Bozza into orbit. "The Mirror!" he cried. "I refuse to answer any questions until you apologise for that front- page story you wrote about me." When asked what story he meant, Boris faltered: "Er, I can't actually remember." Alas, he was thinking of 'The Guardian'. Too much politics can do odd things to the brain.
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