Axegrinder 16.03.07

God bless the web’s truth seekers

Axegrinder is not one to indulge in idle conspiracy theory speculation, but could it be possible that the BBC is run by shape-shifting lizard people who are in league with Al Qaeda?

I only ask because of a much-watched piece of BBC World footage on Google Video which shows reporter Jane Standley reporting the collapse of the Salomon Brothers building (also known as WTC 7) on 11 September, 2001 ¡ª 20 minutes before it actually fell.

You can see the building clearly still standing behind her.

As cattleprods911 says in the Google Video comments section: “Now that 9/11 is unravelling, as is Waco, the anti-conspiracy theorists are quickly becoming the ¡®NUTS’, and my guess is they are sucking on one kind of government tit or another! God bless you truth seekers!”

Here, here.

Richard Porter, head of news for BBC World, has issued a response on The Editors, the BBC editors’

blog. But does he protest too much? He says: ¡Ã±We’re not part of a conspiracy. Nobody told us what to say or do on 11 September. We didn’t get told in advance that buildings were going to fall down. We didn’t receive press releases or scripts in advance of events happening.

¡Ã± In the chaos and confusion of the day, I’m quite sure we said things which turned out to be untrue or inac- curate ¡ª but at the time were based on the best information we had. We did what we always did ¡ª sourced our reports, used qualifying words like “apparently” or “it’s reported” or “we’re hearing” and constantly tried to check and double check the information we were receiving.

¡Ã± Our reporter Jane Standley was in New York on the day of the attacks and, like everyone who was there, has the events seared on her mind. I’ve spoken to her today and, unsurprisingly, she doesn’t remember minute-by-minute what she said or did ¡ª like everybody else that day she was trying to make sense of what she was seeing, what she was being told, and what was being told to her by colleagues in London who were monitoring feeds and wires services.

¡Ã± We no longer have the original tapes of our 9/11 coverage (for reasons of cock-up, not conspiracy). So if someone has got a recording of our output, I’d love to get hold of it. We do have the tapes for our sister channel News 24, but they don’t help clear up the issue one way or another.

¡Ã± If we reported the building had collapsed before it had done so, it would have been an error ¡ª no more than that.

Pull the other one lizard man.

What’s eating ex-Home Sec Charles Clarke?

The Independent’s impish Matthew Norman has clearly got under the skin of prickly ex-Home Secretary Charles Clarke.

In a question-and-answer piece in the paper, Clarke is asked by a reader: “Did you really go to a Swiss finishing school?”

Clarke replies it is just a “malicious rumour” ¡ª like the suggestion that he once ate two pizzas in a single sitting.

“It was invented by the Indy’s Matthew Norman for reasons I do not comprehend,” fumes Clarke.

We don’t have the technology

Reporters at the Daily Mirror must be feeling rather left out, not being able to enjoy the spectacular multimedia revamping of the new Mirror website.

A spy tells Axegrinder that many of the computers in editorial are so antiquated that most are unable to load the page, and any attempt to do so results in a complete computer meltdown.

“Our computers are so shit that they just crash. They’re always crashing,”

said one disgruntled employee, upset he’s unable catch up on his colleagues’

video blogs.

In order to find out what Mirror staffers were missing out on Axegrinder tried to visit the page, only to discover that some of Press Gazette’s machines appear to be suffering from the same problem as the Mirror’s.

Punters don’t want to read all about it

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and the Mail’s Paul Dacre paid between £100,000 and £105,000 to serialise David Blunkett’s memoirs. That’s according to the ex-Home Secretary’s entry in the Register of MPs’ Interests.

Strangely, the Mail makes no mention of the hefty fee in its story about The Blunkett Tapes topping the list in a survey of non-fiction books which readers fail to finish.

In its coverage of the most unfinished list, The Guardian almost danced its way out of a tricky situation with: “It was The Blunkett Tapes ¡ª the juiciest bits were serialised in The Guardian ¡ª which topped the non-fiction section.”

It undid the good work by saying Blunkett’s “gossip proved all too boring for 35 per cent of its readers”. Let’s hope Guardian readers were more discerning.

Where there’s a Will there’s a wayhay!

I have good news from the young ladies in the press office at Tory HQ for The Guardian’s chief political correspondent Will Woodward.

“It’d be fair to say that Will’s seen as a bit of a poster boy here,” gushes one admirer as she breaks away from preparing David Cameron’s latest press release.

Meanwhile, the Tory leader’s relations with the News of the World appear to have plunged in recent weeks ¡ª despite the paper’s pro-Cameron coverage.

The latest furore followed a Screws story boasting: “Exclusive: Tories plan FOUR flight taxes.”

Before the paper had even hit the streets, Tory spin-doctor Michael Salter fired off an angry email to political hacks on Saturday night which has been passed to Axegrinder.

Salter fumes: “This evening the News of the World issued a press release claiming they had an ¡®exclusive’ report on this story and it would result in ¡®four new massive taxes’, both claims are completely false.” Ouch.

Just why are we doing this?

Not everyone at the Beeb is impressed with director-general Mark Thompson’s plan to move a large chunk of the operation to Manchester.

“How will the move to Salford improve programmes?” is the blunt question from Duncan Hess, director of BBC2’s Working Lunch, in the Corporation’s Ariel magazine.

Telegraph in the dark over Cameron’s HQ

“The lights are on ¡ª but is anybody home?”, thundered The Daily Telegraph in a piece about MPs leaving the lights on in their offices overnight.

The article was illustrated with a picture of the lights blazing away in the darkness at Tory HQ on Victoria Street ¡ª a few hundred yards from the Telegraph’s base.

“Keeping the lights burning hardly squares with the party’s green image,”

sneered the paper.

Just one problem. David Cameron’s troops quit the building for their new HQ in Millbank Tower more than a week earlier.

“If the dunderheads had bothered to read the press notices, they’d have realised,” muttered one lackey at Tory high command.

The Mirror’s Suzanne is moving on, OK?

“Showbiz insiders”, to use one of the gossip hacks’ favourite phrases, spotted a mischievous message as Suzanne Kerins signed off her final column in the Sunday Mirror.

In her last “Suzanne Says” before heading off to take up a job as a senior magazine exec, Kerins writes: “OK!

This is it, folks. My mission has been accomplished. In four years, I’ve quaffed crates of champagne, barely slept, squabbled with celebs¡­ to bring you the best gossip. It’s been fun. I bid you farewell.”

And where is the glamorous Kezza off to? That’ll be Richard Desmond’s OK!

Email of the week:

From: maysh, Jeff ¡ª Loaded Magazine Sent: Thursday, March 1, 2007 To: Subject: Operation Magpie

Hi Paul, I had to get in touch re: The Lite Guy guide, which is most excellent. In particular, your shaver guide this Tuesday.

Now, we all do it ¡ª you know, nick stuff from other publications ¡ª but this week’s shaver guide has been ripped off from the pages of Loaded, and on our first day of sale. You nabbed our expert and it even looks the same!

If you want to do this, I’m wondering whether we can work together? Loaded’s “Right Stuff” section is the largest gadget and shopping pages in mens’ magazines (we ¡®own’ bloke shopping reviews in the sector), and would be pleased to provide you with such features. You might even benefit from having a little Loaded branding on it, it being a blokey spread.

If not, tell your boy Johnny Cigarettes we’re doing football boots next month, give him a headstart, eh? Do let me know what you think!

Best Wishes, Jeff

If you have an axe to grind ¡ª or some scandal to share, email Alternatively, call the Press Gazette newsdesk on 020 7234 2337

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