Having resigned under pressure from the House of Commons Boris Johnson has been thrown back on his former job as a journalist. The Daily Mail has seen Johnson’s fall as an opportunity. But have they taken into account Johnson’s previous issues as a columnist?
Mail editor Paul Dacre is taking a big risk and will need to be very patient with his new columnist. But unfortunately Dacre is not known for his patience.
A former Telegraph editor, Charles Moore, has gone on record that when Johnson worked for him as a columnist, he was notorious for delivering his copy late, leaving the paper’s sub-editors anxiously watching the approaching deadlines.
Newspaper deadlines are set in stone, the start of the presses triggering a process that results in bundled newspapers being delivered at newsagents and other outlets, ready for early would-be readers.
Once, after he had missed a deadline by several hours, Johnson’s column was replaced by another written by a different journalist. This did not go down well with Johnson, who expects people to pander to and enable his chaotic lifestyle. The long suffering sub-editor, who had put up with his late copy for years, was on the receiving end of his abusive phone call. They recalled his “ferocious temper”.
A fellow journalist has predicted “Boris Johnson’s copy will always be late and whatever it says will be unchecked and extravagantly untrue,” – risky in a now highly litigious world.
Remember Johnson was fired by The Times for inventing a quote in an article. As a journalist he has had a controversial career. Being imaginative and entertaining does not mean accurate and reliable.
Boris Johnson has observed “They do not put statues up to journalists !” – perhaps the true egocentric reason he ventured into politics…. He enjoyed the status and the perks of a politician, but not the boring and demanding day to day grind of negotiation, consultation and paperwork.
It could well be a tempestuous and rocky relationship between Dacre and Johnson, the former expecting professional discipline and commitment, the latter special treatment and indulgence towards his relaxed approach to deadlines and facts.
Paul Dacre was once proposed as head of the Press Complaints Commission – Boris Johnson compared that to putting the Boston Strangler in charge of the code of practice for door-to-door salesmen.
The same Paul Dacre, when Boris Johnson was elected Tory leader, said that ‘the party of family values has chosen as leader a man of whom to say he has the morals of an alley cat would be to libel the feline species’.
Watch this space
Editor’s note: BJ’s first 2 articles were in praise of weight reduction cures, despite his own experience of them not working; and in praise of the plucky Brits who died in the cause of Titanic ‘exploration’