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April 22, 2004
Don't Be Shy -- Tell Us How You Really Feel

You have to hand it to the Brits; they know how to do a newspaper war. In what must be the worst case of sour grapes on record, the owner of the Express -- who lost out on a chance to buy the Telegraph -- wound up goose-stepping, making Nazi salutes and engaging in a foul-mouthed tirade during a business meeting with Telegraph execs [I've redacted the expletives]:

Express owner Richard Desmond today launched an extraordinary tirade against Telegraph bosses at a meeting of their joint venture print works, hurling a string of abuse and goosestepping around a boardroom in mockery of a German newspaper group's bid for the paper.

In scenes that will shock the Conservative party he has just pledged to support, Mr Desmond branded the Telegraph chief executive, Jeremy Deedes, a "miserable little piece of s**t" and said Germans were "all Nazis".

Bear in mind that both papers support the Tories -- this has nothing to do with politics, but with Desmond's inability to match the German bid for the Telegraph. In fact, it sounds like Desmond has become quite unhinged, when you read the entire narrative of the meeting:

In a faux-German accent, Mr Desmond asked if the Telegraph bosses - who also included managing director Hugo Drayton and printing director Bill Ellerd-Styles - were looking forward to being run by Nazis.

"That's not very helpful," Mr Deedes said, pointing out that Axel Springer - the German newspaper group currently bidding to buy the Telegraph titles - had a commitment to the state of Israel as part of its publishing philosophy.

When Mr Desmond said: "They're all Nazis", Mr Deedes replied: "That is thoroughly offensive. Could you please sit down so we can start the meeting?"

"Don't you tell me to sit down, you miserable little piece of s**t," Mr Desmond said, before he launched what witnesses described as "a stream of foul-mouthed abuse, both personal and general".

"After three years dealing with a bunch of crooks I'm starting to enjoy this," Mr Desmond said, adding, "You sat down with that f***ing fat crook and did nothing," in an apparent reference to Lord Black. He also called the Telegraph directors "f***ing c***s" and "f***ing wankers" among other names in an expletive-ridden tirade.

Desmond then closed out the considerably-shortened meeting by goosestepping around the room and suggesting to the departing Telegraph executives that they sing "Deutschland Uber Alles", challenging them to a fistfight as they left.

And you thought that Brits were the soul of reserve.

Understandably, Telegraph management refuses to attend meetings at the printing press with which both newspapers contract for services unless other parties are present to keep order. One would conjecture that said third parties should be carrying tranquilizer darts and jackets with really, really long sleeves.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 22, 2004 12:57 PM

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