He was once a sprightly young man who according to one eye witness ‘would stalk through the newsroom… shouting “what the fuck is this, you cunt, there’s not a fucking brain in this office” – tearing up pages’ and terrifying staff . Yet recent video footage of Paul Dacre has revealed he is a grey, balding, plump-faced pensioner who struggles over basic sentences.
It seems a far cry from the man dubbed ‘the Vagina Monologue because he call[ed] so many people a cunt’ . He also seemed to be obsessed with incoherent ideas and concepts that seldom bore any relationship with reality; at one point he claimed with a straight face and earnest voice that rather than members of public sue the Daily Mail he would: ‘obviously encourage people to go to the PCC [instead] where they get free and instant justice’. As well as claiming that ‘we have, i think, quite an effective system of self-regulation in the media, we come under a lot of scrutiny, rightly’. Amazingly, such was the sympathy garnered by Gollum’s dilapidated cousin, not a single peel of laughter rang out from the committee room. It was clear that Dacre was no longer a feared and powerful newspaper editor, but rather a senile old man who really thought the most useless ‘regulator’ ever created was a great success.
He increasingly looked like the father of Richard Littlejohn (which I really think he does and would certainly explain a lot), and his sense of victimised conspiracy – as well as complete disregard for reality – could have been plucked from any of Littlejohn’s Daily Mail columns.
The above is an attempt at a ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ style article pointing out that someone has got a little older, bolder, greyer and fatter. Something that Paul Dacre’s paper takes great pleasure in doing, as if it somehow constitutes news. Following yesterday’s post on what I consider to be the real outrages of the taboid press – the constant lies and inhumanity – I had a message from Macguffin from Tabloid Watch, who made a small correction: Dacre didn’t provide a written statement to the HoC Culture, Media and Sport Committee, he actually turned up to answer questions. He actually said the following with a straight face:
“It is a matter of huge shame if an editor has an adjudication against him; it is a matter of shame for him and his paper. That is why self-regulation is the most potent form of regulation, and we buy into it. We do not want to be shamed.”
So I was curious to see what else Dacre said, so the above quotations are actually transcribed from his grand day out, yes, he actually said those things with a straight face as well. Dacre goes on to say far more completely hypocritical things, like his statement on the human rights act.
The ‘Human Rights Act was a very well intentioned act, I mean who could deny human rights to anybody’ he says, seriously (15:58), which is presumably why the Daily Mail has spent years campaigning to have the act scrapped. In a typical Daily Mail article entitled: ‘What about OUR human rights‘ the Mail reported that a poll showed 61% of people where in favour of scrapping it, largely thanks I imagine to the negative reporting of the tabloid press towards the HRA. The Mail also stated that the act had caused many ‘affronts to natural justice’, listing numerous cases of criminals not deported, bombers let in and so on to support their view that the HRA was an act of madness. However, as the Guardian pointed out: the majority of those cases had nothing to do with the HRA and everything to do with legal loopholes. The HRA was a convenient target because the Mail does not support equality or basic rights to ‘others’ such as ethnic minorities.
He also bangs on about privacy – of course, that is the point of the committee – but here he again seems to be a complete hypocrite. As the Guardian points out, ‘until recently, Dacre has studiously avoided the public gaze’ and enjoys his perceived right to privacy. That is why I took a small delight above in looking at the man behind the hatred, judgement and bullying articles that make up such a huge bulk of Daily Mail content. He is, after all, a human being, as frail and as flawed as anyone. I would argue, though, that he deserves more limelight for most after his years of editorship of the Daily Mail, he dishes out the abuse but rarely seems to be on the end of it.
1 & 2 – Nick Davies, Flat Earth News, p379.