HAS the Sunday Times no news to report? Is life coming out of lockdown so perfect that there is nothing left to be said; the government’s handling of it so ideal that journalists can only twiddle their thumbs? Are there no problems facing our economy to investigate, nothing to be reported on the threat posed by China or the deepening divisions in America? Don’t any of these – or indeed the latest Brexit alarums and excursions – warrant front page attention?
Apparently not. Yesterday everything else was eclipsed by its front page splash with the biggest headline type in years: ‘William “behaved like a snob” when Harry fell for Meghan’, it blared out. For Rebekah Brooks (CEO of the paper’s owner, News UK) and the paper’s editor, Brooks’s recent appointee Emma Tucker, a tawdry new book about Meghan and Harry with its nasty allegations and smears on the rest of the royal family, Prince William in particular, trumped all else. The equally spiteful first part of the serialisation was published in the Times on Saturday under the huge headline ‘Royal breakdown’.
Talk about the doors closing on the Western mind with a bang and corporate capitalism at its worst. Two once-fine newspapers are now all about money, with the different parts of Rupert Murdoch’s empire all promoting each other, and for the Times and Sunday Times a desperate no-holds-barred bid to halt declining readership.
Times Newspapers have the serialisation rights for the book, Finding Freedom, which is about to be published by HarperCollins, an arm of News Corp, parent company of News UK. And they are making hay while the sun shines, never mind the morality of turning a particularly one-sided and insidious account of the so-called Royal Rift into yesterday’s extraordinarily negative headline about Prince William.
I am sure the editor spent considerable time finessing the page layout. It is hard to see it – with its straplines – as anything but deeply damaging to the reputations of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Meghan the victim and Kate the cold sister-in-law just about sums it up.
What the admirable, self-effacing and hard-working Cambridges have done to deserve this vicious onslaught is anyone’s guess. They are unable to defend themselves. But anyone with even a vague memory of Harry and Meghan’s wedding, for which the royal family spared no expense, consideration and understanding to please and welcome the bride, must realise that the rewriting of history which HarperCollins commissioned sits uncomfortably with the facts.
One suspects that under the new woke and anti-racist regime ordered by Rebekah Brooks at Times Newspapers, as described by John Smith a few weeks ago, Meghan, the victim of prejudice and discrimination and her identity politics agenda fit rather well.
With this appalling tittle-tattle these once-reliable – indeed venerated, especially under the Sunday Times’s legendary editor Harold Evans – publications of record and leaders of opinion have finally lost their way and any pretence of being serious newspapers.