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Monday, October 7, 2013

Jewish Daily Mail editor defends paper against Miliband

The Daily Mail's city editor, Alex Brummer, has stringently defended the paper against claims of antisemitism in the wake of its attack on the character of Ed Miliband's late father Ralph, describing the suggestions as "utterly risible" and "deplorable".

In a column in Saturday's newspaper, the journalist – who describes himself as a practising Jew in the orthodox tradition – said the Daily Mail had an unwavering support for Israel and has promoted Jewish staff across its departments.

Brummer said he would not have made the move from the Guardian, where he was associate editor, to the Daily Mail and stayed there for 13 years had he believed antisemitism was present.

"Indeed, the cynical attempts by Lord Kinnock, the political left and the Labour party to shift the debate about the Mail article that explored Ed Miliband's late father Ralph's view on politics, international affairs and economic models, to one about alleged antisemitism within the Associated Newspapers group is absolutely deplorable," he wrote.

On Friday, Brummer suggested to Channel 4 News that the paper may have made a mistake in not making clear that the original article about Ralph Miliband was comment. "I think it [the article] just had the wrong label on it," he said.

Brummer said his Jewish background never mattered during his rise through the ranks in the Guardian, but that he became "increasingly uneasy" when he felt coverage of Israel became hostile."Since arriving as a Jew at the Mail, I have felt much more comfortable away from the kneejerk anti-Zionism shown by the left and its totally disproportionate efforts to demonise Israel," he wrote.

Saturday's Daily Mail features a piece quoting from a letter sent by journalist Mehdi Hasan to editor Paul Dacre in 2010 asking to be featured as a columnist.

On Thursday night, Hasan strongly attacked the Daily Mail on Question Time, describing it as "the immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, Muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting Daily Mail".

Headlined "Mehdi, a man with very flexible principles", the graphic quotes from the letter sent by the journalist saying he was "very keen to write for the Daily Mail" and admired "the paper's passion, rigour, boldness and, of course, news values".

Responding to accusations of hypocrisy by the former Conservative MP Louise Mensch on Twitter, Hasan said: "It was a sycophantic request to write [sic] odd column in a paper with lots of readers and that pays well".

In other responses, he said that he was on the payroll of Sky News while being "repulsed" by Rupert Murdoch, and that he would still write for the paper given the opportunity.

Charles Moore, the former member of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet who accused the Daily Mail earlier this week of "telling lies" about Ralph Miliband, said in a column in the Daily Telegraph that he had begun "to get suspicious" when Ed Miliband had broadened his complaints about the coverage from defending his father to attacking the "culture and practices" of the newspaper.

"The phrase comes from Lord Justice Leveson's report on the press. It is one thing for the leader of a political party to make a personal protest to a newspaper, quite another for him to try and control one. We are moving beyond filial loyalty here and into a power struggle," he wrote.

Previously, the justice secretary Chris Grayling said Miliband should "tread very warily" so that his dispute does not act to harm press freedom.

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