Pandora: Blackballed: Conrad savages new Murdoch biography

Rupert Murdoch's biographer has found himself on the receiving end of a literary right hook from one of the media tycoon's long-standing rivals.

Conrad Black, the former Daily Telegraph proprietor who spent years locked in a bitter price war with Murdoch's Times, has given a critical mauling to Vanity Fair journalist Michael Wolff's recently published book, The Man Who Owns the News.

Yesterday, Black submitted a detailed review of the tome from the federal prison where he is currently serving a 78-month jail sentence for fraud to the US-based website, The Daily Beast. He writes:

"Wolff wades through a confusing and clichéd account of Murdoch's life, replete with factual errors, serious omissions, mind-reading suppositions, extreme psychological liberties, and the conclusion that Murdoch will be 'temperamentally compelled' to try to acquire The New York Times, and buys newspapers 'to change himself'. I don't think so."

Surprisingly, considering the occasional animosity between the pair over the years, Black offers several points of defence for Murdoch, who at one point he describes as "quite pleasant, though he is also one of the very few completely ruthless and totally cynical people I have known."

Two years ago, Black was the subject of his own, albeit unauthorised, biography written by the investigative journalist Tom Bower. He described that book as "vindictive, high-handed, contemptuous, sadistic, pathologically mendacious and malicious".

Who's not behaving badly?

David Morrissey is considered a shoo-in by some bookies to replace David Tennant as Doctor Who, but one of his co-stars in this year's Christmas special isn't so sure. Dervla Kirwan, who is married to Spooks eye candy Rupert Penry-Jones, reckons it's an open field.

"I don't know if it will be David Morrissey," she tells me. "I think there is a shortlist of six. Possibly Martin Clunes, Paterson Joseph or James Nesbitt. My favourite would be Clunes because he is such a contrast to David Tennant and they need someone different."

Kirwan, who was attending a carol service for Cancer Research UK, added: "I am seeing Russell T Davies this week and I am sure he knows exactly who they want."

Pike's not just a pretty face

Rosamund Pike has been selected to sit on the judging panel at this year's Costa Book Awards.

Usually, such glamorous appointments are met with the sighs and accusations from leather-elbowed literary types that it's another sign of dumbing down. On this occasion, their moans would be misdirected.

"Rosamund studied English lit at Oxford so she's hardly just a token celebrity," says a chum.

"As I remember, she got a pretty respectable 2:1 – she's certainly no dope."

Incidentally, the actress studied under the esteemed poet Bernard O'Donoghue. He was once the recipient of the Costa prize's predecessor, the Whitbread award.

Estelle's no fan of Paxman

Jeremy Paxman may leave politicians quaking in their boots, but not hip-hop star Estelle. She isn't happy about the way Paxo spoke to her fellow rapper, Dizzee Rascal, during a Barack Obama Newsnight special.

"I was like, 'He is taking you for an idiot,'" she tells this week's New Statesman.

"That was out of line. Paxman's not going to get away with asking me do I think I'm British. That's disrespectful – what do you think I am?"

Strachan gets to stretch his legs

Ian Strachan revealed himself to be one of the London social scene's foremost chancers this year when he was sent down for five years after attempting to blackmail a member of the Royal Family.

Surprising, then, to hear rumours Strachan has been seen out and about. According to his brief, Giovanni Di Stefano, it's because Strachan is in an open prison. "As a matter of law he is in custody but as a matter of fact he is within the community more than within the compounds of a jail."

Gordon shuns the Post Office

Not only does Gordon Brown want to chop 50,000 jobs at the Post Office, his party won't even support the workers by sending out proper cards.

This year's offering from the Labour Press Office was sent out yesterday in the miserly form of an "ecard".

Predictably enough, there's absolutely no mention of Christmas in it either.

pandora@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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 People

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future