This morning’s press targets: Luntz and Brown

This morning’s press targets: Luntz and Brown

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    ..why is a Murdoch paper gunning for Gordon?

The main highlights from this morning papers are an attack on the US pollster, Frank Luntz, by Nick Cohen in the Observer and a series of critical stories about Gordon Brown in the Sunday Times that, taken together, look as though the paper is turning against him.

The Cohen piece under the heading “How a celebrity pollster created Cameron” covers the impact on the Tory leadership contest last year of the famous Newsnight piece on the focus group by Frank Luntz.

    Cohen’s piece is probably overstated. What people often do not recall is that on the morning that this was broadcast the Guardian published details of an online ICM focus group which came to broadly the same conclusions.

The Sunday Times, part of the Murdoch media empire, won’t make good reading for the Chancellor this morning, particularly as it comes after what should have been his big week – his “final” pre-budget report.

For the paper has article after article all linked to Brown’s big Commons statement and all covering it in a critical manner. It devotes its entire leader to the speech under the headline “The Artful Dodger” which concludes “..So we have had a good look at the next prime minister. He spins and he twists. He gives us, if not dodgy dossiers, then flaky figures. He appears to suck up to business and ordinary families while making life harder for them. If this is a vision for Britain’s future, its inspiration is Dickens’ Artful Dodger, not Blake’s Jerusalem.”

If that was not enough there’s a report under the heading “Brown’s spin doctor tried to fix budget TV coverage” which describes efforts by an aide of the Chancellor to get Sky News, also Murdoch-owned, to prevent the former minister, Stephen Byers, from being asked to provide a commentary. An email to the channels is reproduced suggesting that the choice was “.. a bit like having Shaun Woodward on to speak for the Tories, or Norman Scott’s dog for the Liberals.”

The content of the statement is analysed in a big Focus feature under the heading “Why Gordon’s figures don’t add up”.

Finally, the paper’s regular political commentator, the former Tory minister Michael Portillo, speculates on whether “Is boom-time Brown about to turn into Crash Gordon?” No surprise there given Portillo’s background but it is the totality of the paper’s coverage that should be worrying for the likely next PM.

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