03 November 2011

Exclusive*: News Limited plot exposed

Simon Benson is not denying reports that he will become editor of The Daily Telegraph as early as this month.

News Ltd sources behind the push for the wannabe editor to take the job that was cruelly snatched away from him and given to some luckless ponce from The Australian not good enough to be pinched by Fairfax have confirmed he was now being advised by his closest confidants not to wait until next year but to launch a challenge as early as the second last week of November.

Senior sources within Holt Street claim the leakage of support away from Mr Whittaker, who flew out last night for some sort of Murdoch hajj, was snowballing.

"There are three things that are certain: there is a editorship challenge under way, Benson doesn't have a majority yet but has enough numbers to be a contender, and they are strategising about how to get it done," said a senior News Ltd source.

But there was mixed support for the idea of an early move, with some Murdoch minions claiming they would "deliver the editorship" to Mr Benson in February - if he waited.

In a sign Mr Whittaker is now taking seriously the threat of a challenge, an internal counter-offensive has been launched to shore up his editorship.

Mr Whittaker is reported over the past week to have lobbied key Holt Street figures with influence over executive members as to how Mr Hartigan takes his coffee and what his recreational pursuits are. Steve Lewis is also believed to have privately warned several NSW News colleagues that he would resign if they supported a move to impose Mr Benson as editor, having had his reputation shackled to Mr Benson over one of the silliest examples of journalism in Australian history.

Politically Homeless has spent the last two weeks sitting on reports that News Ltd executives were softening in their support for Mr Whittaker following the bungled anti-terrorism raid and their deepening concerns that News Ltd can't just make stuff up and sell it as though it were real.

Should Whittaker be replaced with Benson? Tell us below

"It sent Whittaker's office into a panic. Lewis has told people that he would quit if we went to Benson but I doubt he was serious. He wouldn't want to be remembered as the bloke that brought down a News Ltd masthead," a senior member of the News Ltd executive said.

"That's our job."

"I mean, can you imagine if Fairfax or the ABC spiked an anti-terrorism investigation? We'd be all over them like ants at a picnic. Now, all the Ala Akba or whatever they're called have to do is gissa call, and we'll bugger up the AFP investigation for them."

"We're handy like that."

Mr Lewis would not comment last night.

News Ltd has only one working week left after this week, after which employees will run over to Pyrmont and beg to be hired by Fairfax, or at the Fish Markets, or by anyone really, to avoid the next visit from the Great Helmsman with pink slips in both of his scaly, spotted fists.

Sources close to Mr Whittaker said he was well advanced on a policy pitch to address News Ltd's desperate credibility problems over issues including public transport in Sydney, the carbon tax and problem gambling.

One senior News Ltd, a Benson supporter, claimed advertisers were starting to "get edgy" over the government's unresolved editorship crisis.

"Advertisers know it's a question of when and want it sorted," they said.

Despite Mr Benson's self-professed popularity, a boost in support for the Tele if Mr Whittaker was rolled was not assured. Secret Politically Homeless research conducted recently in secret (in contrast to, say, a Federal Police raid on a terrorist cell) concluded voters believed the paper was drifting.

Other editorial candidates such as Miranda Devine and Annette Sharp refused to return calls by deadline. Even Joe Hildebrand, the Chris Pyne of journalism, refused to rule out a tilt at the top job "down the track".

Why buy the paper in the morning when you can check it for free on your phone, and then get a copy handed to you titled as "MX" in the afternoon?

Voters believe News Ltd's policies are out of synch with mainstream values, targeting key policy areas including the carbon tax and asylum seeker policy. They also expressed concern at the influence of the so-called Murdoch Family (diddly-dum, click click ... read the lyrics and change the family name).

Then again they're only punters, so fuck 'em.

* The reason why this is Exclusive to Politically Homeless is because I've made this up.

Update 5 Nov: Not content with a shot at the editorship "down the track"*, Joe Hildebrand lunges for martyrdom. Each of those amounts look pretty hefty until you realise that his employer charges that for each ad about the size of a coffee cup that appears in a newspaper. If he can get one or two of those weepy ads that Andrew Bolt's pals put together he needn't worry.



  2. Good Evening Andrew! On a matter not entirely unrelated to this story, might I just say that I went into the belly of the beast, also known as, the NSW Right of the Labor Party, last weekend, and asked them directly about the Kevin is the once and future King story. I was met with a laugh and a rolling of the eyes. I was assured, in all seriousness, from someone whose word I trust(and that is not an oxymoron when talking about the NSW Right of the ALP), that Kevin is not seeking to challenge Julia for his old job, he's having too much fun being FM. He has his sights now set further afield. Also, no one is counting numbers on his behalf, but there are a couple of nervous nellies on the backbench from Queensland, who seem to think he is their only hope of survival and may be the ones who are the source of the rumours.

    As for the NSW Right, they're just making mischief for the PM, if there is any truth to the story in The Daily Terror at all, because she backed the Left wrt Border Protection, and they wanted her to cave to Tony Abbott over Nauru, as they idiotically think that's what the punters in Palookaville want.

  3. "Even Joe Hilderbrand, the Chris Pyne of journalism, refused..." Absolutely beautiful!



  4. Mr Whitaker who has warned his staff to hold their nerve as they are playing a 'long game' remains confident that the readers will return when the wisdom of his editorial policies becomes apparent. Mr Benson last seen at an editors jamboree in the west continues to deny media reports of his imminent appointment claiming that he is having too much fun in his present job.

  5. Bushfire Bill4/11/11 6:55 am


    Welcome to the Murdoch Fake Article Club.

    It's easy to do, and fun, and you don't have to even get out of bed to write shite like they do.

    Well done!

  6. Very good, though you lost a few points by pretending that Fairfax had any money left to poach anyone. A better alternative for ex-News staffers would be the Liberal Party itself, or maybe private investigation firms.

  7. Brilliant Andrew - just brilliant.

  8. Brilliant Andrew. I'll have to spend some extra coffee time at Le Monde on Foveaux St to see what I can dig up about these startling machinations by the Holt St Heavies.

  9. Thank you Anons, Doug, Roger, Bill & Cantbe.

    HS, you can only make so much mischief, and the press report so many non-stories, before people stop listening to you.

    m0nty, are you really telling me that Mike stutchbury moved from Holt St on the basis of a warm smile and a firm handshake?

  10. Now if only you can get Rudd to sing at their post PLOT party.

    brilliant, thanks for the laugh

  11. "Some people say..." that you made up the story about making up the story. A senior source at News Ltd has just confirmed pressure is building for a change before Christmas....
    A staff survey due to be released next week has confirmed Mr Whittaker has no legitimate support.

  12. Alphabajangodelta5/11/11 12:53 am

    But wait, you forgot the comments*:

    blob pooralbyn of pooralbyn Posted at 1:47 AM November 03, 2011
    Thank you now lets close it down like the NoW a.s.a.p.
    Comment 1 of 205

    Pete Jones of Dichmond Vic Posted at 1:51 AM November 03, 2011
    What fantastic news. Roll Whittaker and Lewis says he will resign. Two birds with the one stone.
    Comment 2 of 205

    Bull Burrell Posted at 1:58 AM November 03, 2011
    No, he should be replaced by Amanda Wilson...
    Comment 3 of 205

    a prolapsed one Posted at 2:07 AM November 03, 2011
    ur dreamin
    Comment 4 of 205

    Barmie Gee Posted at 3:09 AM November 03, 2011
    I like the bit "Mr Lewis would not comment last night", usually, you can't stop his ranting and raving.
    Comment 5 of 205

    Batty Posted at 5:10 AM November 03, 2011
    He wasn't up to it first time around, what's changed ????
    Comment 6 of 205

    Cred of Australia Posted at 5:10 AM November 03, 2011
    I used to read the Tele all the time. I will never read the Tele again, regardless of which masthead it's got.
    Comment 7 of 205

    Spuey of Australia Posted at 5:34 AM November 03, 2011
    The only chance for the Tele is "Bring Benson Back" ASAP before Xmas. Whitaker has no credibility at all.
    Comment 8 of 205

    Bark Posted at 5:49 AM November 03, 2011
    Same old horse - different jockey
    Comment 9 of 205

    Spamlagden of Kellyville Posted at 5:53 AM November 03, 2011
    Whitaker should be replaced with Amanda Wilson, we desperately need to change the boat not the deck chairs.
    Comment 10 of 205

    *Yep, actual although altered for effect.

  13. Tellly Belly? Schmelly...

    The one newspaper in the land that gave its journos space and delineated editorial spin from news, the Fin, is now edited by Stutchbury, a faux News Ltd 'economics' writer who channels predictable think tank positions. Turn off the presses as you leave.