According to a report in today's Media Week, News International may launch a free London paper even if it fails to secure the afternoon distribution contract for the tube. The move would see the paper distributed outside underground stations by hand and in dumpbins. The plan is apparently just awaiting approval from chief executive Rupert Murdoch.
This may come as a surprise to many Americans but Murdoch is actually the lesser of two evils when it comes to freesheets in London. Associated Newspapers, which publishes the morning Metro, the Evening Standard and is favourite to win the evening freesheet on the underground, is anything but liberal in stance.
As Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, recently said of the group: "In reality, it is Associated Newspapers that has a long record of anti-Semitism and support for fascism. It welcomed the Black shirts in the 1930s. It has admitted that, as recently as the retirement party of the last editor of the Daily Mail, two of its staff dressed in Nazi uniforms and were not asked to leave. Associated Newspapers has never apologised for this or its record of support for fascism. "
The Guardian on 1 March 2006 also wrote: “Associated Newspapers have always led the charge against the policies that confront racism and anti-semitism. It praised the Blackshirts in the 1930’s, and admits that as recently as the retirement party of the last editor of the Daily Mail, two of its staff dressed in Nazi uniforms and were not asked to leave.”
And while we shouldn't be judged on the actions of our forefathers, here is what Lord Rothermere (aka Harold Sidney Harmsworth, great-grandfather of the current Lord Rothermere, who owns Associated Newspaper - pictured with his 'hero' above) wrote in a telegram to Adolf Hitler a year before World War II broke out: "My dear Fuhrer everyone in England is profoundly moved by the bloodless solution to the Czechoslovakian problem. People not so much concerned with territorial readjustment as with dread of another war with its accompanying bloodbath. Frederick the Great was a great popular figure. I salute your Excellency’s star, which rises higher and higher. "
Rothermere also wrote an article entitled ‘Hurrah For The Blackshirts’ in January 1934. Suddenly Murdoch doesn't quite seem so bad anymore.