Jon Slattery

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A freelance journalist writing from the UK.
Updated: 1 hour 39 min ago

Media Quotes of the Week: Bashing Boris: What fellow journalists think of the man who would be PM plus a bit of gloating from the Daily Mail

30 June 2016 - 8:38am

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian on Boris Johnson:  "What’s plain is that Boris Johnson and the rest never had a plan. It was derelict of the media – broadcasters in particular – not to force the leavers to define what leaving meant. Instead they got away with airy generalities, hiding multiple contradictions and dishonesties...He had no plan because he never thought Brexit would win: it was a jolly jape to nearly win and tickle Tory party members into electing him. They probably will and now this sociopath with no concern for country, economy or citizens will be our prime minister."

Tina Brown on Boris Johnson on the DailyBeast: "Johnson’s fake disarray—his bonhomous tanker of beer and Falstaffian spilling gut, his genial, jokey façade concealing a deeply opportunistic nature—allowed him alliances with such odious figures as UKIP’s xenophobic leader Nigel Farage, whose rat poison salesman persona would never have won Brexit without the fig leaf of Boris’s charm. His other powerful alliance was with the Voldemort of Middle England, Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail—with whom, I am told, Boris was closeted on June 9th over lunch in a private room at Marks club, in a conversation so confidential in content they put a chair in front of the door."

Nick Cohen in the Observer: "The media do not damn themselves, so I am speaking out of turn when I say that if you think rule by professional politicians is bad wait until journalist politicians take over. Johnson and Gove are the worst journalist politicians you can imagine: pundits who have prospered by treating public life as a game."

Martin Wolf in the Financial Times: "David Cameron took a huge gamble and lost. The fearmongering and outright lies of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage, The Sun and the Daily Mail have won. The UK, Europe, the west and the world are damaged. The UK is diminished and seems likely soon to be divided. Europe has lost its second-biggest and most outward-looking power. The hinge between the EU and the English-speaking powers has been snapped. This is probably the most disastrous single event in British history since the second world war."

Rachel Sylvester in The Times [£]: "Mr Johnson is undeniably a rock star politician with the charisma to put a smile on voters’ faces. For his most audacious act yet, he wants to morph from showman to statesman, as a valiant Henry V. The danger for him is that as reality hits and he is forced to make difficult choices, Boris the Buffoon, who turned himself into Boris the Brave Brexiteer, may find that many Leave voters begin to see him as Boris the Betrayer."

Rafael Behr in the Guardian on Boris Johnson: "There is nothing cuddly about voracity for power, allergy to responsibility and infidelity to any cause besides personal advancement. Yet that is the constellation of traits that forms the former London mayor’s character, exerting such narcissistic gravity that no passing truth escapes unbent."

Old Quote of the week
Max Hastings in the Daily Mail in October 2012: "If the day ever comes that Boris Johnson becomes tenant of Downing Street, I shall be among those packing my bags for a new life in Buenos Aires or suchlike, because it means that Britain has abandoned its last pretensions to be a serious country... He is not a man to believe in, to trust or respect save as a superlative exhibitionist. He is bereft of judgment, loyalty and discretion. Only in the star-crazed, frivolous Britain of the 21st century could such a man have risen so high, and he is utterly unfit to go higher still."

Mail columnist Sarah Vine in an email to her husband Michael Gove, leaked to Sky News: "One simple message you MUST have SPECIFIC assurances from Boris OTHERWISE you cannot guarantee your support. The details can be worked out later on, but without that you have no leverage. Crucially the membership will not have the necessary reassurance to back Boris, neither will Dacre / Murdoch, who instinctively dislike Boris but trust your ability enough to support a Boris / Gove ticket."

Sun editor Tony Gallagher to the Guardian after the Brexit victory: “So much for the waning power of the print media.”

Daily Mail in a leader: "As for those of our readers who decided to vote Remain, judging that the dangers of Brexit were too great, this paper has enormous respect for their conscientious concern for our country. But we firmly trust and believe that their fears will prove unfounded."

Peter Preston in the Observer"It wasn’t the baleful ogres of newspaper proprietorship that swung this vote. Lord Rothermere prefers the Mail on Sunday Remainers to the manic Leavers in the next office. Rupert Murdoch didn’t have tell Tony Gallagher which way to swing: the Sun’s editor did what came naturally to him. No: the foundations of this leaving have been laid for 40 years in a persistent reluctance to report what the EU is all about – a failure to explain."

Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail:  "This is not a time for gloating, but what the hell. To paraphrase that manic Norwegian football commentator: Call Me Dave, Boy George, Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker, Up Yours Delors, Barack Obama, Mark Carney, Goldman Sachs, Polly Toynbee, J.K. Rowling, Peter Mandelson, Neil Kinnock . . . your boys took one hell of a beating!"


Media Quotes of the Week: From press poison and hostility towards the EU to is 24 really a new national newspaper for all the north of England?

23 June 2016 - 9:34am

Former Times foreign editor Martin Fletcher on Facebook: "For 25 years our press has fed the British public a diet of distorted, mendacious and relentlessly hostile stories about the EU - and the journalist who set the tone was Boris Johnson. I know this because I was appointed Brussels correspondent of The Times in 1999, a few years after Johnson’s stint there for The Telegraph, and I had to live with the consequences. Johnson, sacked by The Times in 1988 for fabricating a quote, made his mark in Brussels not through fair and balanced reporting, but through extreme euro-scepticism. He seized every chance to mock or denigrate the EU, filing stories that were undoubtedly colourful but also grotesquely exaggerated or completely untrue."

Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times on the murder of Jo Cox: "Had she been struck down by a Muslim, or someone of immigrant descent, significant sections of the British media would not be so judicious. We would not be reading on front pages that this was the work of a 'crazed loner' even if there was reasonable evidence that it was."

Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian on the public's distrust of politicians: "The media have certainly played their part. Think of the interviews conducted as if every politician belongs automatically in the dock, interrogations that proceed on a premise famously cited by Jeremy Paxman: why is this lying bastard lying to me? Social media has intensified this hostility and made it even more sharply personal. The abuse directed at women – whether elected politicians or not – who dare to voice an opinion in public, the threats of rape and murder: all of it has further polluted the atmosphere."

The Independent in a leader: "For those who have sought guidance from politicians – on both sides of the campaign – there must be a sense of bewilderment at the degree of mud-slinging and the paucity of facts. Sections of the media have been just as guilty."

The Times [£] in a leader: "The Times may once have been regarded as part of the establishment. If so, those times are past. We will take a maverick view where logic and the evidence support it. We have considered every aspect of the European argument with the seriousness and scepticism it deserves. We respect the arguments of those who would have Britain leave, but on balance we believe Britain would be better off leading a renewed drive for reform within the EU rather than starting afresh outside it."

Martin Kettle in the Guardian: "No newspaper in this country’s history has more consistently, and at times more rabidly, pursued political objectives than the Mail – from war with Germany in the early 20th century, to the promotion of Hitler, Mussolini and British fascism in the interwar period, to the drive to get Britain out of the EU in our own lifetimes – along with the defeat of Labour at all times, by fair means or foul. That’s why the late Michael Foot, who knew his press history much better than most politicians, could never resist the opportunity to berate any Mail journalist he came across as a lackey of 'the forger’s gazette'."

The Daily Mail in a leader: "True, the EU is loved by its greatest beneficiaries — Europe’s political elites, the mighty corporations that spend millions lobbying Brussels, determined to get the bureaucrats to enforce their monopolies. Then there are the unscrupulous banks such as Goldman Sachs and fat cats such as Richard Branson and the egregious euro-supporting George Soros, who made a fortune from almost destroying the Bank of England. Indeed, it is the EU fervour of these globalised elites, telling democracies how to vote, that has enraged working class communities in Britain who, more than anyone, have had to cope with mass migration and have every right to feel abandoned."

Hugo Rifkind in The Times [£] after Vote Leave banned C4's Michael Crick from a rally because of his reputation for mocking politicians: "Worry about this. Worry about it, even if it is true. For, while the right of a journalist to take the mick might not seem like a thing worth defending, you’d miss it if it were gone."

David Halliwell, editorial director at CN Group, on 24 the company's new "national newspaper for the north", quoted by HoldTheFrontPage: “We’re well aware that launching a paper into the national market will raise eyebrows. Like Trinity Mirror, we want to try new things, to see what else we can do to build audiences. Some will work and some may not but we won’t die wondering.”

Peter Barron on 24 in the Northern Echo: “So let’s be honest about this. This isn’t a grand launch of a new ‘national newspaper for the north’. It’s a ridiculous claim. It’s a paper for bits of the North-West, relying almost entirely on the Press Association, which, like everyone else, has had its editorial resources cut. In the end, newspapers past, present and future, live or die on the foundation of editorial quality. People aren’t mugs.”