Diary: Thompson extends seasonal goodwill to old pal Murdoch

Matthew Norman@IndyVoices
Monday 20 December 2010 01:00

At this time of year, it behoves us to forego the cynicism and embrace child-like romanticism. So hats off to Mark Thompson for lighting that path with the most touching show of faith since Clarice Starling led a census-taker into the sitting room with a cheery: "Now Hannibal, darling, you will play nice, won't you, while I pop down the offy for a nice bottle of Chianti. I've left the fava beans in the saucepan by the stove to soak."

The BBC director-general shows his support for Fox News-style channels over here, on the grounds that TV impartiality rules are passé in the internet age. "Why shouldn't the public be able to see and hear," he mused last week, "as well as read a range of opinionated journalism and then make up their own mind?" With uncanny timing, a University of Maryland study reveals that frequent Fox viewers were the most misinformed segment of US society on matters relating to the 2010 election cycle. Given that Thommo also claimed that Rupert Murdoch personally informed him of his desire to Foxify Sky News, something which his editors had "brushed off", Scrooges may wonder whether this is a brazen crack at ingratiation aimed at persuading Rupert to temper the campaign to destroy the BBC. This is just the kind of sneery cynicism with no place in our festive wonderland. Mark Thompson believes in Father Christmas, even when he departs Lapland disguised as Davros, and if that doesn't restore a little seasonal faith in the essential goodness of man, can anyone tell me what will?

On Wednesday, meanwhile, Thommo is schedule to release a statement about the loss of significant emails, during transportation to India, between News of the World executives and reporters regarding the bugging of phones. "In any large media organisation," the D-G is expected to say, "these accidents will happen. It's time to stop paranoid fixating on what was, at worst, a minor misunderstanding, and move on." So say all of us.

As for Mark's decision to let Huw Edwards anchor the Beeb's royal wedding coverage, this also receives the Paul McCartney thumbs-up. The opportunity to plap platitudinous drivel for hours is an honour to which no one is better suited than Huw. Rumours that Jim Naughtie will present an irreverent neo-punk wedding broadcast on BBC 3, styled after the C4's Alternative Queen's Speech, remain resolutely undenied.

* In his first outing since retiring as a blogger, Iain Dale takes Mail on Sunday space to attack Julian Assange. Ian makes some clever points, not least by directly equating WikiLeaks' revelations (such trivia as footage of US fighter pilots mowing down Afghan civilians) with papers hacking phones in pursuit of randy footballers. Equally hard to argue with is his closing call for Assange to turn himself in to the Swedes. "If he's as innocent as he says, what does he have to fear?" Searingly original, and absolutely right. It's hardly as if the Swedes would come under fearsome pressure to extradite him to the US. And even if they did, what could he possibly have to fear in Washington? The blogophere's grievous loss is the mainsteam media's bounteous gain.

* How splendid to find Ed Miliband carving time to Tweet about a new Blue Peter presenter. We wish Little Ed the most fraternal of Yuletides, and reassure him that even if his current trajectory is maintained in 2011, Labour MPs will not despair. All they will do is glance covetously along the back benches towards his loving brother, and console themselves with a cheery: "Now there's one we prepared earlier".

* Elizabeth Hurley: an apology. Last week, I warmly praised Ms Hurley for self-sacrificially pulling Shane Warne in London to prevent him flying home to rescue Australian cricket. After yesterday's Ashes denouement in Adelaide, we unreservedly withdraw that praise. Clearly the Aussies concluded that, if they raised their game to Warnian heights, they would be similarly rewarded. That affair has now ended after she caught Shane saucily texting another (this increasingly piscine tale might have been scripted by Max Clifford). If she wants to redeem herself, she'll take the first available flight to Melbourne to establish a physically draining ménage a trois with Mitch Johnson and Mike Hussey (Mr Cricket) forthwith. She owes us no less.

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