Scandal! Tabloid editor wasn’t thinking about selling newspapers

As a former rather than incumbent editor of the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie obviously felt he could afford to take quite a cavalier approach to his Leveson evidence (perhaps playing to what he said is his “punchy”, “sort of anti-establishment” character).

His written evidence [PDF] contained 17 exclamation marks at one point; and declared that he “didn’t take into account public interest (whatever that is)”. In his oral evidence on Monday morning [PDF], he called the former chair of the Press Complaints Commission, “Baroness somebody-or-other”.

There were many questionable statements made and among them, the claim that editors aren’t thinking about selling newspapers

Lord Justice Leveson asked him “...if you had a photograph which you felt extremely strongly would sell newspapers, that you would publish it?

MacKenzie replied: … “you don’t think like that when you’re an editor. You don’t say ‘would sell newspapers’. What you think is it would improve your newspaper, yes, or that the readers might like it, yes, but the selling — the idea of the day-to-day thought process of selling more newspapers does not happen in that manner.”

With a pinch of tabloid memoir salt, let’s turn to Piers Morgan, who remembered MacKenzie’s priorities rather differently in this tale, recounting an encounter with Rupert Murdoch:

[Murdoch]: “Look, it’s not my job to edit the papers, Piers, but one thing I can tell you is that stiffs don’t sell papers. They sell American magazines. The National Enquirer sold out twice with Elvis’s corpse, but not papers. Ring your mate Kelvin and ask him about Grace Kelly then call me back.”

I rang Kelvin MacKenzie and he chuckled. “Bloody Grace Kelly. Ha! Trouble is, he was right. I thought the photos of her lying in state would sell buckets of papers but the bloody sale fell off a cliff. And he’d warned me not to do it, so when he saw the figures he went mad. I’d ring him back and say you’ve had a rather dramatic rethink and decided not to splash on Ronnie Kray’s rotting body if I were you.”

Pic: Mark Hillary on Flickr.

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