Tabloids made their bed with Johnson. Should they not lie in it?

Tabloids made their bed with Johnson. Should they not lie in it?

Johnson is back working in the press, but the press wants to focus on other matters.

The political career of Boris Johnson has ended with a whimper rather than a bang, dragging down with him the media cheerleaders who have supported him religiously through the thicket of lies.

The word will probably never get through to the Daily Express that Johnson is finished but you can be sure that The Sun must be totting up the political losses that have come from its continuing loyalty.

By now the Daily Mail must be wondering about the wisdom of signing up Johnson for a weekly column for close to £1 million a year. Judging by the first load of old tripe on Saturday, Johnson could be a rapidly diminishing asset and I do hope for his sake there is not a Spotify Harry and Meghan get-out clause attached specially for grifters.

Rupert Murdoch has a well attuned nose for losers on their way to jail, which is why Trump was dumped. Is the same now happening to Johnson, out of power, out of the House of Commons with an ever-vanishing chance of making the magical return of which he dreams?

‘Boris’s legacy will be bleak’

Top Sun columnist Trevor Kavanagh is the place to look to find a sophisticated view of what Murdoch is likely to be thinking now.

Opposite his piece last week, The Sun leader column ranted and fulminated against the Privileges Committee and all its works which stank to the high heavens because of the imposition “of such insanely vindictive punishment.”

But from Kavanagh there was a much more nuanced approach and one facing the future. Of course Kavanagh nods in the direction of “the kangaroo court” theory. But then he warned that at a time when millions of families are struggling with the costs of living, soaring mortgages and “a tide of crime on our streets,” the Tories were spiralling towards mass suicide.

“It is the extraordinary cult of BoJo the World King which is luring them unto the rocks,” wrote Kavanagh.

Never mind that The Sun played its full part in the creation of BoJo the winner. The Sun now wants this to stop in the public interest.

The threat of internecine war against the present Prime Minister can only rebound on the Tories and BoJo and his supporters should have a care.

“If his vendetta against No 10 ends next year in a Keir Starmer-led Labour rout, Boris’s legacy will be bleak indeed,” Kavanagh concluded.

A Labour “rout” is an interesting concept coming from The Sun but it is the finality of Johnson’s “legacy“ that reveals the Sun’s underlying sentiment: the Johnson era is over; let’s get behind Rishi Sunak, our new best hope.

Erudition sadly missing

Friday’s Daily Mail had an interesting front page: the teaser for their “erudite new columnist who’ll be required reading in Westminster—and across the world,“ and who would be at work the following day.

Underneath there was the story of Tories erupting in fury at the “vindictive“ treatment of their man Johnson and predicting a revolt was clearly on the cards.

As for the £20,000 column, the erudition was sadly missing and only men who are chronically overweight in Westminster and around the world would have been the slightest bit interested. Johnson wrote about how he has received injections to help him lose weight, and for some mysterious reason they hadn’t quite worked nor removed the desire to raid the fridge at midnight for cheddar, chorizo and half a bottle of wine.

We were not told, but might it not be possible, that Johnson could have had a proper dinner earlier, maybe even washed down with more than a half bottle of wine?

Can’t wait to read this week’s startling revelations.

Anyone who signed off the Johnson deal—probably the peerless Paul Dacre—much be concerned that the former PM plans to serve up any old meanderings to the Mail and keep the best stuff for the book.

Time to move on?

We now know there was no Tory revolt, partly because Johnson called off the dogs after realising that the size of the pack was humiliatingly small.

The Privileges Committee findings that Johnson repeatedly and deliberately misled the House of Commons was passed overwhelmingly by 354-7 although around 100 Conservatives abstained, including Prime Minister Sunak. By any standards a big story, except that the only national newspaper that led with it was The Guardian.

In a process that Johnson, the former journalist, will understand, an even bigger story had come along involving a British billionaire, a submersible, the Titanic and a potential for intense personal drama not to mention tragedy.

It was the splash everywhere with the result that, in most cases, the Johnson story was washed deep into the inside pages.

The Mail reported the facts but made no editorial comment.

The Sun had two terse sentences under the headline: “Let BoJo Go.”

Strangely the paper asked whether MPs had nothing better to do than continue to fixate on Boris Johnson: “He has quit and returned to writing. And still they lined up in the Commons yesterday to give him another kicking. Move on. Let him go.”

The Sun is right. There are other things for MPs to worry about, as the Financial Times splash noted how the mortgage squeeze piles pressure on homeowners and raises risks for Sunak.

And then there is a couple of years of the Covid inquiry to come; something destined to become the new witch-hunt.

Raymond Snoddy is a media consultant, national newspaper columnist and former presenter of NewsWatch on BBC News. He writes for The Media Leader on Wednesdays — read his column here.

Media Jobs