British newspaper front pages review at midnight: Tuesday 9 November 2010

The Times’ big scoop, the George Bush interview, is dampened by the fact that the Guardian and The Indy have also seen copies of his memoirs, which are released in the US tomorrow. I would be suprised if The Times hadn’t tried to do a deal with Bush to secure that only they could see the memoirs before publication. If not they have negotiated a poor deal. The fact that the other papers have it means that online very little of The Times’ content will get out from behind the pay wall – people will just read the slightly less good version of the story on the Guardian website. The Times’ editors must be fuming that their splash has been so badly ruined. 


The Times – “Waterboarding saved London from attacks” – undoubtedly has the scoop of the night, an exclusive interview with George W Bush, shortly before he publishes his memoirs. In it he claims that three people were waterboarded and that saved London from attack. This is truly an amazing story, the President of the United States officially sanctioning the torture of terrorist suspects. And he does it in his usual callous style – asked whether he sanctioned the waterboarding he says “damn right.” It also alleges that Tony Blair was willing to let Labour lose a confidence vote in support of the war and argues that the US will remain the world’s sole superpower. I don’t know if this will be serialised over a few days, but if so it looks like The Times may be the one to read today.

The Guardian – “Bush: I ordered Pentagon to draw up plans to attack Iran” – has a different angle on the Bush memoirs – the fact that Bush ordered the Pentagon to plan an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and planned for operations against Syria. They have not had the exclusive interview but have got a copy of his memoirs. The story itself is not particularly exciting, certainly less strong than The Times’, but they have got less to work with. It mostly breaks down as a summary of Bush’s book, including the fact that Bush admits he made mistakes over Iraq and that he accepts he took too long to make decisions over Hurricane Katrina.

The Independent – “Regrets, too few to mention” – has an article written by the American Pulitzer-Prize winning author Michiko Kakutani. The paper prides itself on doing comment better than anyone else, and yet again it is on its front page. The article is a critique of Bush’s memoirs, not an analysis of them. The main problem with this approach is that without knowing what is in the book, it is hard for the reader to decide whether or not they like Kakutani’s assessment of them.

The Telegraph – “Teachers’ pay and sickness records to be published” – alleges that the coalition is drawing up plans to revolutionise choice in schools, to the extent that teachers’ salaries will be published for comparison. It is unclear exactly when these changes will come into force and from closer inspection of the story it is really just a rehash of a number of policies announced over the past few months. The story even quotes a few trade unions slamming the cuts which, in The Telegraph, is a pretty clear sign that they were running on empty.

The FT – “Rolls says jet engine failures not related” – Rolls Royce has denied that a series of airplane engine failures have nothing to do with them, apparently breaking their silence. They are hardly likely to say ‘just realised our engines are dodgy, sorry’ (unless they are owned by Toyota). Most of the article beyond about paragraph 4 is just background to the plane engine failures, though it is very well written.

If you only read one: The Times by a country mile

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