Wednesday, December 11, 2019

When UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Was a Journalist

Boris Johnson
As part of a long read, New York Magazine's Andrew Sullivan informs:
At Oxford,...I overlapped with him for a year (1983–84) and, like him, was president of the Oxford Union. Compared with most of the toffs, he seemed to me endearing. So many other Etonians downplayed their upper-class origins, became lefties, smoked pot, softened their accents, and wore clothes indistinguishable from anyone else.
But Boris wore his class as a clown costume — never hiding it but subtly mocking it with a performance that was as eccentric as it was self-aware. He made others feel as if they were in on a joke he had created, which somewhat defused the class resentment he might otherwise have been subject to and which, like many from the lower ranks of British society, I mostly shared.
But I gave him a pass because he was so splendidly colorful....
 In his chosen profession as a journalist, he worked for the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph, often finding stories where others didn’t but also just making stuff up. In one Times story, he invented a quote to sex up the piece, then lied to his editors about it. He was fired when the person he “quoted” complained, but, using his connections, he managed to get a second job, at the Telegraph, the solid Tory non-tabloid. In a stroke of editing genius, he was assigned to cover the E.U. in Brussels, where his environmentalist father had been one of the first British officials to work for the European bureaucracy (assigned to controlling pollution), where boy Boris thereby attended elementary school for two years and where, as a journalist, he also proceeded to just make stuff up.
But this time, the stuff he embellished or concocted — about the overweening ambitions of the E.U. and the absurdities of various E.U. regulations, on, say, the size of condoms — was almost designed to tickle Tory Telegraph readers.

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