‘Exclusive’ The Times’ continued lickspittle repetition of government gossip during a pandemic is a disgrace

Oh and Matt Chorley’s Andy Kauffman-style act as a man who understands nothing is a work of genius.


The word ‘exclusive’ has been so debased by the British press its like it has spent its entire career following Ron Jeremy around with a mop and bucket. What an exclusive should mean is a story that journalists have unconverted and which no other outlet has yet published. But in the hands of newspapers like The Sun and The Times, “exclusive” often means “something the government briefed us on before other newspapers and, most crucially, Parliament and the public”.

I had a semi-blessed day mostly off social media yesterday as I battled with moving, but waking up at 4am after sleeping the well-earned sleep of a man who has had to explain to sceptical removal men that “yes, that sofa will fit through that door”, I logged back on to Twitter, the curséd bird site, to discover a new Times ‘exclusive’:

The government will announce a new national lockdown on Monday and it decided to shit on our weekends by handing that news to reporters at The Times who were waiting eagerly, mouths open, for more lovely worms from the government, like credulous baby birds. If they’re lucky, Lee Cane and Dominic Cummings will even chew the wriggling lies up for them first — so efficient, delicious and exclusive.

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Journalists who crow about ‘exclusives’ that are hand-fed to them by government sources or powerful PR people, all the time cloaking those bastards in unearned anonymity, are truly pathetic. It requires no skill, beyond the ability to provide a tongue colonic to powerful contacts, and is actually intensely embarrassing.

Pointing to an ‘exclusive’ that you got because someone rang you up and gave it to you is the journalistic equivalent of a toddler proudly showing off a pile of shit in their potty — it’s a part of the process and they did the bare minimum to make it happen.

I find the dick-swinging, back-slapping, wall-pissing, pseudo-journalism of fake exclusive chasing and marketing pathetic in normal times. During a pandemic, with stories that involve the physical and mental health of the nation, I find it deplorable to the point of contempt.

While The Times bosses shower their political editors with praise when they manage to be tossed morsels by the Number 10 press operation — so connected! the paper the people in power read! — they are acting against the interests of the public and as a megaphone for a court of corrupt and contemptible charlatans and grifters. But “buy a paper”, yeah?

And as I’m on the subject of charlatans…

Matt Chorley published a thread on Twitter about the EHRC report in antisemitism in the Labour Party which was as heavy on emotional guff, performative anger, and cheap sentimentality as you’d expect from a man whose radio show is comprised largely of crap puns and obsequious deference to his ‘betters’. That he also writes a weekly ‘comedy’ column for The Times taking a sideways look at the political news — 🙄— merely adds to the enduring horror of his media career.

Ever the self-publicist, Chorley even manages to start his thread with a reference to his comedy show, a production with all the cheer of an open grave. This is the same Matt Chorley who, after launching a Twitter World Cup to find the best Prime Minister We Never Had, threw a series of Verruca Salt-style tantrums on his radio show about “Corbynistas rigging the contest”. And how did his eternal enemy achieve this? Well, they… uh… voted in his polls.

Matt Chorley is a man who shares the pages of The Times with Anders Brevik’s favourite columnist, Melanie Phillips, and ‘banters’ four days a week with Times Radio’s Chief Political Correspondent, Tom Newton-Dunn, who published a story on the front page of The Sun that relied on neo-Nazi websites for its core information. Is Matt Chorley, long-time recipient of a wage from Rupert Murdoch — Sauron with a taste for trophy wives and manipulating elections — really in a position to lecture anyone about proximity to racists? The Times also has a tendency to blow racist dog whistles with greater alacrity than a fascist trainer at a Crufts-style show for Nazis who really love their cockapoos and want a white ethno-state.

It used to be said that The Sun was the reprobate of the Murdoch empire and The Times its respectable older sibling. I don’t think that’s true. I think The Times is simply The Sun with a taste for higher scoring Scrabble words and a love for coating its sexism, racism, and squalor in layers of classism, prevention, and pseudo-analytical rigour. The two papers share the same stable and stink of the same shit. Shame on them… exclusively.