It took the journalists on the Daily Mail the best part of a week to catch up with my story about Rupert Murdoch considering his toady-in-chief, Michael Gove, as the next editor of the Times. One wonders when the brains at the Mail will twig what it could mean for them.
I’ve already disclosed how the Mail’s proprietor, Lord Rothermere, had lunched the Times’s deputy editor, Tony Gallagher, to gently sound him out about taking over his daily title. If Gove were to suddenly leapfrog him that would almost certainly make Rothermere’s embrace seem all the more alluring to Gallagher.
Murdoch’s chess board is, however, significantly larger than Rothermere’s and he could end up offering Gallagher the Sunday Times in such a scenario. My informants there say the nonagenarian tycoon has been toying for a while with the idea of switching the incumbent editor, Emma Tucker, to a senior role at the Wall Street Journal. That would meanwhile dash the hopes of her ambitious deputy, Ben Taylor, who might then end up replacing Ted Verity at the Daily Mail if Gallagher elects to remain in the Murdoch empire.
As for Witherow, Murdoch could well allow the 70-year-old his wish to become editor-in-chief of the Times and Sunday Times in a largely ceremonial but remunerative role as thanks for a lifetime of service.
Murdoch could yet of course leave all his kings and queens in place if Gove decides to stay put. Old Westminster hands point out it was the threat of Gove taking over at the Times that was enough to persuade Boris Johnson to give the back-stabber a place in his cabinet. Whether Liz Truss will have the brains to work out that it’s better to have Gove in her tent peeing out than outside of it peeing in remains to be seen.