Does anything compromise the editorial integrity of Lord Rothermere’s group more than his bargain not to describe pornographer Richard Desmond (10.20 Dildo Dan, 12.10 Dirty Rotten Shaggers) as a pornographer?
For his part, the owner of the Fantasy Channel and a sad shelf of skinmags would order his newspapers to lay off the private lives of Viscount Jonathan and family. Thus did Desmond become the first Express proprietor since Beaverbrook to bully a Rothermere into running up the white flag.
Big deal. The tame tale already published of Jonathan’s youthful indiscretion could not be unpublished. And the old tales about Viscounts Vere, Esmond and Harold were already in the history books.
And now Desmond is making clear that his deal does not cover exposing massage ads in Loot, an Associated acquisition. His Sunday Express found that massage ads are what we all know they are. Indeed, the News of the World long since stopped dispatching investigators to marinate themselves in massage parlours before making an excuse ("I think I’m going to throw up") and leaving.
Loot classifieds were the basis of a risible Sunday Express splash and spread accusing Rothermere of enriching himself out of the misery of prostitution. (What Desmond enriches himself out of, the Mail has been inhibited from reminding the public. Which helps explain why the Prime Minister has Desmond round to No10 and down to Chequers, and is grateful for a £100,000 cheque for party coffers.)
True, Desmond was entitled to retaliate when Rothermere (frustrated in his bid for the Express, which would have cost less to buy than to fight) ran promotions mercilessly rubbishing Desmond. If Rothermere had been advised to take no notice of equally nasty pieces about himself, his father, mother and grandfather, that would have been good advice.
It still is. Along with cancelling that Faustian bargain.
An attractive Downing Street adviser falls for a handsome but married TV pundit. Fornication, politics and telly – what editor could ask for anything more?
But Mirror editor Piers Morgan has spiked the Anji and Adam story on the grounds that Anji drinks in the Morgan village pub. And David Yelland spiked it on the grounds that Sun readers wouldn’t be interested.
Good stories – who needs ’em?