Indy editor-in-chief determined to appoint Liddle

The row over racist and sexist comments allegedly made by Rod Liddle continue. This blog has learnt that Independent editor-in-chief Simon Kelner still wants Liddle.

The heated row over racist and sexist comments allegedly made by controversial media pundit Rod Liddle have strengthened the desire of The Independent’s editor-in-chief Simon Kelner to appoint Liddle as editor of the flagship Independent title, Left Foot Forward has learnt.

Even after the Liddle row deepened this weekend, Simon Kelner has been telling people that the row is the best publicity that The Independent has had for years.

The publication of a large number of crude racist and sexually explicit comments, under Liddle’s user name on a Millwall supporters’ public forum, have been widely thought to have damaged his credentials as a potential editor of the serious liberal broadsheet.  But Kelner is increasingly determined to stick by his recommendation to potential new owner Alexander Lebedev that he should appoint Liddle as editor if, as widely anticipated, the Russian billionaire completes his purchase of the title shortly.

Simon Kelner has had a relatively low profile outside the media industry during more than a decade as editor then editor-in-chief of the Indy. His role in the Liddle affair may now come under increasing scrutiny given his apparent determination to make as controversial an appointment as possible as a way of getting the paper noticed.

Many media experts are sceptical as to how controversy generated by The Independent courting Liddle’s almost uniquely toxic public reputation could be translated into sustainable increases in circulation, as Kelner appears to believe, particularly when over 4,000 people have joined a Facebook group saying they would refuse to buy the paper if Liddle was editor.

Independent staff are making efforts to go beyond Simon Kelner to ensure that Alexander Lebedev and his advisors understand the level of staff and reader concern. Lebedev has relatively little knowledge of the British media scene having bought the Evening Standard only six months ago, so Kelner’s experience means his advice could prove decisive.

One senior Independent voice told Left Foot Forward that, if the Kelner gamble on Liddle is endorsed by Lebedev, senior staff believe that it could lead to the newspaper folding before the end of 2010.

Liddle claims that some of the comments have been made by somebody else, though he told the Mail on Sunday that “most” of the comments were his. He has tried to avoid being drawn into the details of his account of events, or over which of the comments under his username he claimed not to have made.

To date, he has only specifically denied making one comment – about black people having lower IQs than whites – after earlier retracting his denial to the Mail on Sunday of another crude and explicit race comment which he now admits making.

On the Guardian website on Monday, Liddle also admitted making comments on the talkboard about the Auschwitz concentration camp: these involved him attacking fans who complained that jokes about the gas chambers were in poor taste.

Perhaps most strikingly, there has been to date no significant mainstream reporting or commentary over the crude and often highly personal sexually explicit comments on women in the media made under Liddle’s online username. Surely, a newspaper should find out whether Liddle admits those comments. Even in 2010, there are not many senior women in British journalism; but making the author of those comments the editor of a national title would suggest a quite astonishing tolerance towards grossly offensive sexism at the top of the Independent.

Liddle this week accused veteran Guardian media reporter Roy Greenslade and bloggers highlighting his comments on the public forum of engaging in “fascism”.

Our guest writer is an concerned hack who wishes to remain anonymous

19 Responses to “Indy editor-in-chief determined to appoint Liddle”

  1. Adam Bienkov

    "Kelner has been telling people that the row is the best publicity The Independent has had for years" //bit.ly/4Zt1xk

  2. Peter Watts

    RT @AdamBienkov "Kelner has been telling people that the row is the best publicity The Independent has had for years" //bit.ly/4Zt1xk

  3. Chris Coltrane

    RT @AdamBienkov: "Kelner has been telling people that the row is the best publicity The Independent has had for years" //bit.ly/4Zt1xk

  4. JamieSW

    RT @leftfootfwd: Indy editor-in-chief Simon Kelner still determined to appoint Rod Liddle //bit.ly/4Zt1xk

  5. paulstpancras

    RT @leftfootfwd: Indy editor-in-chief Simon Kelner still determined to appoint Rod Liddle //bit.ly/4Zt1xk @broxted

  6. grace the collie

    yet another slab of Liddle Derangement Syndrome.

  7. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by leftfootfwd: Indy editor-in-chief Simon Kelner still determined to appoint Rod Liddle //bit.ly/4Zt1xk

  8. Sunder Katwala

    RT @leftfootfwd … Indy editor-in-chief Simon Kelner still determined to appoint Rod Liddle //bit.ly/4Zt1xk

  9. Gez Kirby

    SK an idiot, then. <RT @nextleft: … Indy editor-in-chief Simon Kelner still determined to appoint Rod Liddle //bit.ly/4Zt1xk

  10. James Graham

    Kelner is responsible for turning the Independent from a respectable broadsheet to a daily tabloid “viewspaper” that almost entirely replaced actual content with comment and so-called “campaigns”. All too often, those campaigns turned out to be little more than publicity stunts for the paper itself.

    The post-2005 general election “Campaign for Democracy” was a case in point. By all accounts it was a tremendous success, garnering 40,000 petition signatures inside of a month. Compare that to Charter 88’s 80,000 signatures during the 90s or the lacklustre iwantareferendum.com in 2008. Yet those petition signatures were never presented to Downing Street and were not collected in such a way that they could actually be used for campaigning purposes (i.e. there was no data protection statement). No-one knows what happened to them. If the Independent had been serious about the campaign, this would have kickstarted a UK grassroots campaign for electoral reform. Instead it went nowhere.

    I think most people cottoned on to these repeated stunts five years ago, which is why sales to the Independent have continued to slide. Sadly, this Liddle thing is just the latest in a series of stunts and does beg the question: is Liddle the real problem? Kelner has had his shot and has failed comprehensively.

  11. Ben Rooney

    RT @nextleft: RT @leftfootfwd … Indy editor-in-chief Simon Kelner still determined to appoint Rod Liddle //bit.ly/4Zt1xk < v bad idea

  12. Anon E Mouse

    James – Quite agree. If I see one more picture of a polar bear on an iceberg because the Indy believes the nonsense made up by the IPCC about the icecaps melting I’ll scream.

    It is not a newspaper, it is as you describe a “viewspaper” and as such doesn’t really warrant wasting space on blogs about it.

    As for Kelner – if he any doubts lingered about the appointment of Rod Liddle the internet response will have clinched it now for him. Well done all….

  13. Paul Evans

    Left Foot Forward – Indy editor-in-chief determined to appoint Liddle //bit.ly/7hCKq8 <<'serious liberal newspaper'? rotflmao

  14. CS Clark

    Bit of a mistake in the 5th para there. You’ve got 4,000 people vowing not to buy the Indy again when it should be 4,000 people guaranteed to buy the Indy in order to get angry.

  15. PICamp

    RT @Paul0Evans1: Left Foot Forward – Indy editor-in-chief determined to appoint Liddle //bit.ly/7hCKq8 <<'serious liberal new …

  16. Ron Broxted

    What are Liddle and Suzanne Moores (the other front runner) views on Independent Minds and blogging? Pay per view?

  17. Unlucky Alf

    What is Simon Kelner’s new plan for The Independent? This could be the last chance that the paper has to get some investment and one has to question if he has the ability to run a newspaper. He has made three big decisions – the appointment of Freuds to run marketing, Roger Alton to edit and Daryl Fielding to change the way that advertising is run. He’s already changed Daryl (at a huge cost) and replaced her with someone the Lebdevs wouldn’t have back at The Standard. He want’s to change Roger (at a huge cost) with someone that’s a huge risk (only an inexperienced executive would say that the publicity really good for the paper). And as for Freuds (recruited at huge cost) – they haven’t contributed one decent innovative promotion or advertisment.

    Wouldn’t it be a real shame if the last chance The Independent has is put in his hands…..

  18. Where you won't read all about it ... | Left Foot Forward

    […] related mystery, as Left Foot Forward noted this week, is why not a paragraph seems to have been written in print about probably the most offensive […]

  19. Independent newsroom concerned by possible Liddle appointment | Left Foot Forward

    […] noted on this blog, the indicators point that Lebedev’s number one choice for editor is a certain Rod Liddle, famed […]

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