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Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci star in director Martin Scorsese's riveting look at how blind ambition, white-hot passion and 24-karat greed toppled an empire. Story about the Mob's multi-million dollar casino operation where fortunes and lives were made and lost with a roll of the dice
The Junius Theory - & How Hays Could Crack The Case
(NB: for those who think ‘spoiler’ doesn’t go far enough - this post contains a theory about the role of an actor listed in the final 2 episodes on imdb - based only on his character name, previous roles & real-life physical appearance. In other words - ***IMDB Spoiler***) Will Purcell is found dead, placed in the pose of his communion photo (taken by a Priest from St Michael’s Church of the Ozarks), and with straw dolls found leading to the scene (made by Patty Faber of the same church). Patty says that she sold these dolls to a black man with a filmy eye, these dolls were given to the children by two ghosts at Halloween, and the Priest says Julie was excited about seeing her Aunt (she has none). The children had been lying to their parents about a secret playspot where they played Dungeons & Dragons, & had been given a bunch of new-ass toys - some of which had a third party's fingerprints on. Several statements place a white woman, a black man with a filmy eye/scarring, and an ‘upscale’ brown Sedan near to the playspot, murder scene & devil’s den in the months leading to and night of the murder. Sam Whitehead says many black men sustained injuries whilst working on the chicken line. Lucy Purcell worked on the chicken line for Hoyt - who’s daughter (let's call her Heiress Hoyt) lost her child. This black man - let’s call him Junius (similar to the Latin 'juvenis', meaning 'young'/'children') - and let's say he looks exactly like this (actor Steven Williams, decent body of work, listed by imdb as cast as Junius for the final two episodes https://www.reddit.com/TrueDetective/comments/al6hkc/this_who_we_lookin_for_ppl/) could have sustained a facial & optical injury working on the chicken line, but his attitude/behaviour in his dealings with Hoyt in subsequent compensation conversations impressed the Hoyts, & maybe he ends up getting a much better job within the organisation, as an aide to Heiress Hoyt, say. Maybe he's romantically intertwined with the Heiress, I dunno. He buys himself a fancy brown Sedan once he's in his new role. Anyway, he's her right hand man, & following the loss of her child, Junius is directed to begin scouting children that the Heiress can Angelina Jolie (adopt/give a better life) to replace the one she lost. Junius knows Lucy from the chicken line, her lifestyle & negative feelings towards her marriage and motherhood. He also suspects abuse within the home, given the way she talks (perhaps he even witnesses her beating her kids after work sometime). He works Lucy Purcell, & he is the conduit putting her & the Heiress in contact with eachother. He could have gotten photos for the Heiress of Julie & Will (communion photo) either from Lucy or from the Church that he bought the straw dolls, whilst scouting for new children (he bought lots of dolls 'for his nieces and nephews', says Patty Faber). Lucy arranges meetings between the children & the Heiress with Junius supervising. Lucy tells the children not to tell their father about the meets. The Heiress falls in love with Julie. Sure, she could go down the adoption route for any child she liked. But this is the child that she wants. And the heady combo of being a millionaire spoilt brat who never hears the word 'No', & the mental health issues that come with losing a child & wanting *THIS* child to replace the one she lost is too great. Those around her have to make it work. She runs her plan past her father, Hoyt Sr, and he is livid. He pours cold water on it right away. Terrible idea. Warns her not to entertain it. But the Heiress doesn't care. She's got her heart set on Julie now. The Heiress directs Junius to arrange for Lucy to part with Julie for a fee (this cannot be done legally because Tom would not agree to it) and to set up Julie with a new identity. She waits for Hoyt Sr to be out of the country, on safari in Africa, before she snaps her plan into action. Lucy is drawn in by the money, being able offload the motherhood responsibilities she never really wanted, and is comforted by the knowledge that Julie will go on to lead a better life (“children shud laugh”). Julie wasn't planned, she never wanted more kids, & at least now Julie can go on & experience tons of shit that she never would have growing up at Shoepick Lane (Shoepick?/Choupique? Choupique is caviar, right? The valuable offspring of mudfish/swamp trout? Damn, I need to crack a window up in here..). It's for the best. She gets paid, and Julie gets better. And fuck Tom, he, in all likelihood, isn't Julie's baby Daddy anyway (the Purcell grandparents allude to as much at the funeral, saying Tom was welding offshore in Texas when Julie was conceived). That's how Lucy feels about it. Maybe she says as much to the Heiress. Maybe not. But when the Heiress learns this, she begins to tell Julie that her parents aren't her parents, that SHE in actual fact is her real parent, and that Julie will be going somewhere not only better, but her TRUE home. Julie is now onboard. She's an aristocrat, and going home! The Heiress' mental health continues to decline. In her trauma, her lost daughter and Julie are now beginning to merge into one in her mind. She's losing the ability to distinguish between the two. The children did not know that Nov 7th, 1980 would be their last day together, that their mother has sold one of them, as they cycle off to the meet spot. Maybe Will wasn't even supposed to go this time, but he goes out of protective instinct for his sister. When they realise what’s happening, they reject it. Will defends his sister, and distracts the adults, telling his sister to scatter & hide - he’ll find her later using his scouting ability (Hays in 1980 "you can imagine that little boy looking out for his sister. He was trying to defend her. That's what happened to him"). She flees on her bike. Will breaks free and cycles off in the opposite direction, forcing Hoyt & Junius to chase one or the other. They ignore Will, and pursue Julie. She's the target (West in 1980 - "they never wanted the boy"). After some time, thinking the danger has passed, Will tries to find his sister, asking Freddie Burns at Devil’s Den if he’s seen her. But Freddie chases him off. He runs back into the woods and back into Junius & the Heiress, who have found Julie and are taking her away. He tries to stop them taking her, and gives them little choice if they want their plan to succeed. During the struggle he is killed. To placate Julie, they place him in the cave in his communion pose (this is the Heiress' crazy way of trying to suppress Julie's screams & also convince her that her new Mom is compassionate, everything'll be okay) before marking the spot with straw dolls from his bag and leaving with Julie. They drive off, away from Devil's Den, in Junius' fancy brown Sedan. On the way out of Arkansas, Junius contacts his cop on the Hoyt payroll and tells him to get on-scene to make sure he's in a position to tamper with any canvassing of neighbours or potential witnesses in the area. He’ll get a great job out of this off the Hoyts in the private sector, he’ll make sure if that. Sure enough, all mentions of a brown Sedan driving around, away from Devil’s Den, a black man with a filmy eye/scarring, by several neighbours are not included in field reports. The farmer was also interviewed by a white man with a badge immediately after the abduction, but this was not submitted either. The Hoyt Cop does his job well, & Hoyt’s Ozark Children's Outreach Centre charity disrupts the investigation with the reward, flooding the task force with bogus tips (Hoyt Sr knows nothing of this in Africa - he's left his corporation in the trusty stewardship of the Heiress, who makes the most of his resources while he’s gone). Finally, Junius completes the picture by passing evidence to the Hoyt Cop to plant on the Wrongfully Convicted Man - closing the case in 1980. Shortly after, the Hoyt Cop leaves the force & begins his six-figure salary job. When Lucy realises what's happened to Will, that something terrible and unplanned has happened, she loses it. Her initial reaction is to blame & hit Tom ("All you had to do was watch HIM"). Although Will's death was unplanned, Lucy knows she's out of options. She has no choice. She has to stay silent. Telling the truth would result in either her murder or her imprisonment for child trafficking. After all, she played a part in this too. Junius calls her to underscore this warning. Later, seeing Tom's anguish, Lucy sends a ham-fisted note to her own home to inform the task force & her husband that Julie has not been harmed. The FBI agent even says ”the envelope’s handwritten, this isn’t a brainiac”. Lucy stays silent, and descends into alcoholism & despair. Out of guilt, she later commits suicide in Vegas, where she spends the last of the money the Heiress gave her (Sharon Stone in Casino-style). Prior to her death, hearing of her addiction (or that she was throwing around a lot of loose cash), her cousin, Dan O'Brien, visits her under pretence of caring for her welfare. Lucy tells Dan what she did before offing herself. Or maybe she didn't off herself. Maybe Dan's just a greedy fuck who sees the money Lucy's carrying, how she's suicidal, and sees the win-win. He spikes her needle with a hot shot, takes the money, & goes to find Junius to extort the Heiress for more. He's just as stupid & greedy as Lucy was. Junius brutally silences him, dumping his body, broken in a hundred places, in a quarry in Missouri. Julie never accepts her new family after witnessing Will's death, and as soon as she is able, she flees, seeing her only choice as living as a homeless kid on the street (in 2015, Hays foggily recollects “in 90 I found the video footage, we learned about Julie Purcell, that group of street kids”). Approaching the authorities is not an option for her, as they would simply return her to the family she believes beat & sold her (she doesn’t yet know her mother is dead, believes Tom isn't her birth Daddy; & the peephole wasn’t a peephole, the children would pass messages to one another when Lucy would beat them). The Heiress despatches Junius & his mercenaries to hunt Julie down in 1990. Junius knows they can’t convince Julie to return to her new home - they just have to silence her. Hays was right, the clock is ticking - they need to find her first. And they don't. In Episode 2, a website Elisa Montgomery shows Hays in 2015 is titled ‘The Purcell Murders’ - plural. Sadly, I think the Heiress' people get to Julie first. Her murder in 1990 causes her father, Tom, to commit suicide, devastating West. Or maybe the task force does find Julie, and returns her to Tom. Maybe Roland is real happy with himself, & promises Tom 'everything's gonna be OK from now on, buddy'. But right before she has a chance to settle in, be rehabilitated, & talk to the police about what happened to her & Will, Junius finds her & kills her. Either way, the end result is Julie is dead, & Tom takes his own life - and Roland is crushed with anguish. The Heiress' mental health completely implodes. West & Hays are pressured to withhold any evidence that does not support the conviction of the Wrongfully Convicted Man, and Hays, insisting they pursue the 'black man with scarring & white woman' is forced out for his insubordination. West knows Hays is right, but goes about things differently. He's a more sophisticated political beast, and doesn't have quite as big a mouth. He knows they'd need police resources to solve this case. So he bites his tongue, plays along with the Attorney General's request, and watches as his buddy gets canned. The case is closed, and it would appear that up to 2015, the Heiress' conspiracy to abduct Julie, which resulted in the murders of both Will & Julie, has not yet been publicly exposed. My theory is that Hays continues to pursue the case in 90. Off the force, he will need all the investigatory help that he can get from Roland & Amelia to go rogue as a true detective and solve the case - just like Rust needed Marty. West is a careerist, but privately devastated at what happened to Tom Purcell, a man he steered from suicidal depression back to functioning sobriety only to lose him because they were too slow in getting to Julie first (or failing to protect her adequately once they did). He is onboard all the way. He owes Tom for what happened to him & his kids. He, like Marty in S1, 'has a debt', and just like Marty, he will bring police resources into play on the DL to repay that debt. So - what ways can they go to crack the case wide open? : - Option 1: Find Junius. Get that list of all work-related injuries sustained at the Hoyt plant by African-Americans. Check their vehicles, fingerprint all of them by open or clandestine means, and correspond fingerprints to those found on the children’s toys (requiring West's police access). This should give them a hit on Junius, who will give them the Heiress, who will give them what happened to Julie & Will. - Option 2: Find The Hoyt Cop. Rundown all the police who worked canvassing during the ’80 investigation. Locate all the neighbours, which ones feel their statements were either redacted or suppressed, and whose signature is on them? Where are those cops now, what did they do, who left the police during or after the investigation, and who has links to Hoyt? Who came into money during or just after 1980? Who made large purchases, home, car during or after 1980? The evidence that was planted on the Wrongfully Convicted Man - who found it? Who processed it? Whose signatures are on the scene? West can provide that information. Once you got a list, take that damn photo array to the farmer. Have him ID the cop who visited him. This should give them the hit on the Hoyt Cop, who will give them Junius & the Heiress. - Option 3: ID The Sender of the Letter. Compare family handwriting samples with the envelope handwriting the letter was sent in. West would need to supply this. This would give them Lucy, but she is dead, and so can't be compelled to talk. But at least now they know that this wasn't an abduction. This was child trafficking. Which gives them Option 4. - Option 4: Follow The Money. Investigate Lucy’s finances. Child trafficking is highly profitable. If there was a transaction, the money must be somewhere, & come from someplace. Although, it would be difficult for West to investigate this without attracting the attention & fury of his superiors. The only route here that protects West while still using his police resources without his superiors noticing is for Hays & West to pursue the Hoyt Cop (probably now an ex-cop, in a better paid role - similar to Junius, thanks to the Heiress). I think they find him (this is the guy - https://www.reddit.com/TrueDetective/comments/alk2ml/theory_the_suited_manwhat_hays_left_in_the_woods/), and beat him heavily for information. The ex-cop gives them Junius - everything he did, killing Will, snatching Julie, interfering with the investigation, and having Julie killed... But he senses he won’t make it out of this interrogation.. He makes a move, & tries to grab Roland's gun. Hays draws quickly & guns him down. This wasn't part of the plan. They're murderers now. The Hoyt Cop joins the Vietcong in Hays' 2015 hallucination of all the men he has killed. But now they gotta make this look right. They bury the Hoyt Cop deep in the woods (he is who Hays' 2015 hallucination of Amelia is referring to when she taunts him about what he ‘left in the woods’) before burning their clothes (that's what he's burning in the BBQ in the 'coming soon in the weeks ahead' trailer). This changes everything. They know who they're after now. But they killed their way getting there. There's no going back. They track down Junius, and Roland needs no invitation to deal with him. "You had the last one, Purple. This one's all mine..." He looks at Hays. "For Tom." Hays watches as Roland brutally beats & tortures Junius. Finally satisfied, Roland pulls out his gun and takes aim at Junius' head. But before he can execute him, a familiar hand pushes his arm down once more. "Don’t. Wait a minute. I want to know the whole story" says Hays. "Tell me why. What was all this for, a paedophile ring? A trafficking ring? Who's running the show? How many other girls are out there?" Junius says it was neither. It was all about Julie. He tells about the Heiress, her lost child, her trauma, how he tried to get her to go down the adoption route, but once she met Julie, it was all about her. And Lucy agreed to it. She got paid. It was win-win-win: a willing mother's pain soothed, an unwilling mother's burden lifted, & a better life for a little girl. Or at least, that was the plan. But Will wasn't supposed to be there. It wasn't supposed to go down like that. And once Julie fled the nest, having witnessed that, they could never let her talk. He never really had a choice. Hays is rocked. But Roland is unmoved. Still focused. "We done here, Purple?" Hays nods, and moves aside, stunned by this revelation. Roland puts a bullet in Junius' good eye. "Now they match, motherfucker." He goes to spit on Junius in his vengeful rage, but Hays pulls him off. “DNA.... DNA, man! C’mon! Get yourself together.” This leaves only the Heiress. They track her down to the castle-type home drawn in Julie's pictures. But when they finally catch up to her, they look at each other, stunned. She's now almost completely vegetative in her mental collapse. Hays shakes his head. No, man. We can't do this. Let's just do this legit. Put all what we got so far on the table and send her ass to jail. Roland darkens. He can't believe what he's hearing. He shakes his head. "Im sorry partner, but u whistlin’ Dixie on this. Think. Think! Think on what she done. Will! Julie! Tom! A whole entire family. Wiped out like a turkey grease spot. Because of this person. This woman. Now, she got to pay. And even if we got all our evidence admitted in court, we'd surely go down with it....... Junius? The Hoyt Cop? We'd be in the jail cell right next to hers. Except she ain't going to jail, son. When Daddy Hoyt gets wind of this shit, he's gonna spend every last million he has getting his daughter off the hook. She's crazy, your honour. Diminished capacity. She never done nothing, your honour, she was just rambling crazy! They’ll put as much of it as they can on Junius. Best case scenario, she eats the manslaughter wrap, cushy psychiatric discharge to a mental facility. She'll live out her last days in pretty much the same way she doing now. Comfortable. Warm bed. TV. Regular nappy changes. Visits from family whenever she wants. Don't you see? Don’t you SEE? Whether she eats the conviction or not, her life won't change. It won't make a difference. She won't pay for what she done. And to let her skate, after doing what she done? No. We got no choice. We got to put her down for real. For good." But Hays believes in a fair kill. He hunts boar because if you miss, they can kill you too. He'll only hunt deer with a bow - & never with bait or using a stand. He'll only pull the trigger when shot at. He killed the Hoyt cop because he drew him down first, and he killed in Vietnam because they were shooting at him. No. This ain’t him. They've gone all the way, done so much in this case together, but this, he can't do. The Heiress is defenceless. It’s not a fair kill. Hays puts a hand on Roland’s shoulder. “I'm sorry, partner." Hays walks away as Roland takes a deep breath, & puts his leather gloves on. He takes long, shaky, multiple swigs from his hip flask. And then he murders the Heiress. The Heiress doesn't appear in Hays 2015 vision of all the people he killed, because he put it on Roland. That ends their friendship in '91. Hays can't look at him anymore - and Roland can't look at himself. Roland hits the bottle big time. He's glad he got Junius for Tom. He had to do that. But murdering a woman with your own hands? That's not him. But now, it is him. This was something he never thought would be in his life. And now he can’t shake it. There’s no one he can talk to about it. He'll never forgive Hays for putting all that weight on him. His drinking collapses his relationships. His girlfriend doesn't understand why he's lit all hours of the day, always angry, always tense, or won't talk about it. The nail in the coffin of their relationship comes when State Attorney General Kindt figures out that Roland's been pursuing a closed case. Kindt walks into West’s office & closes the door. Roland looks weathered, still wearing his hangover, but lights up when he sees a real friend for a change. “Mornin’ Sir”... Until he sees the look on Kindt’s face. “Take a seat, West.” "You were given strict orders Lieutenant West. Your remit was to lead a task force supporting the conviction of the Wrongfully Convicted Man. The murder of Julie Purcell closed that case. Now, Hays wanted to go off all half-cocked and pursue 'a black man with scarring', was it? And start running down former cops from '80? He wanted to go off running his own detail unsupervised. So he got canned. And lookie here, in the news. A black man with scarring found shot up. And a former cop from '80 is reported missing by his family. Now, I'm not saying it's you, West, but there's no way Hays could have done this without access........ I sure liked you....... But you're done. Turn in your badge and gun by the end of the day." Kindt gets up to leave, before turning around. "But because I liked you, I'll be fair. Drop on your sword. If you resign today, and you keep your mouth shut about all of this? You can keep the pension. Your good name. Your freedom. Or we can go that other way. I'll make sure you end up in the same cell as half the men you put away. You ever hear what happens to cops in prison?...............Yeah.......... Good day to you...... Mr West.” West knows this is checkmate. He's toast. He got no moves here. He is constructively canned, and walks into his home to tell his girlfriend he just lost his job. They don't last long after that. West lives alone with his demons, bitter & haunted, into old age. 24 years pass. By 2015, Hays has been robbed of his memory of these events by his dementia. Hays does not solve the case in 2015. He simply figures out that he already done solved it in 1990! Maybe, with his condition, this isn't the first time he's gone through this process. He's trapped in a locked room. Having the same dream. Again. And again. And again. Time is a flat circle for him now. 2015 Roland knows this. He sees his friend's condition. He just doesn't wanna go back into that head place. Maybe this is the first time Hays has approached him about this, maybe it's the 10th time. But Roland don't wanna know, don't wanna go back there. The bleakest time of his life. He smoked his own career to make that shit right. But the murders they done. Tom's suicide. Their failure to protect Julie, breaking his promises to Tom, all whilst he was steering the task force. And the murder of a woman (the Heiress) by his hand. All that pain, death & anguish. "Nah, man. I don't wanna think about that shit or eat no boar meat, man. Motherfucker. Just get me two fingers of Southern Comfort." The purpose of the 2015 timeline is twofold: 1. to help Hays remember (maybe not for the first time, but for the final time) that he brought satisfactory closure to the case, and also to his life. Amelia is dead, & Roland won’t go beyond cryptic hints about what they done. But Hays’ visions of Amelia & interactions with Roland & Elisa help him finally piece together & remember what they did. He finally reads the closing chapter of his Wife’s book, which contains a warm & loving tribute to him, with hints that she knew exactly what he & West went through to bring justice to the children's killers. What it cost them. What it cost him. In their souls, their careers. Carried for life, like a weight. And that in the end, as a marriage, they did live a genuinely loving, loyal & happy life together. And now, satisfied in remembering that, Hays can take the handgun from his drawer and return peacefully to be with his wife ("I may be deciding I don't want to stay alive without your mother"), whilst also simultaneously tying up the one last loose end of the case.... The second purpose of the 2015 timeline is to blow the Hoyt corporation & the political careelegacy of State Attorney General Kindt into the ether, and overturn the conviction of the Wrongfully Convicted Man. This couldn't be done in the past, because in blowing the lid off this mess, Hays knew he would be exposing himself to a murder charge, & possible retribution from the Hoyt corporation. But in 2015, with the Hoyt family mostly deceased, and no death row awaiting him in the afterlife, Hays is comfortable blowing the lid off this godforsaken mess, giving Roland some sweet revenge on his old boss Kindt, & giving the Wrongfully Convicted Man's family the peace of mind they deserve. Because now that he has found peace of mind & closure, Hays realises that everybody deserves peace of mind & closure. And he wants to give it to them. After Hays' funeral, his son, Henry, finds a note directing him to the dictaphone, which details from start to finish the real truth about the Heiress' child trafficking activity, Junius, the murders of Julie & Will, Lucy's complicity, the Hoyt cop, Kindt’s purposeful obstruction of justice.... and Henry gives it all to Elisa. Elisa gets exactly what she wanted. True Criminal goes viral globally - Serial style - blowing the case wide open. Elisa obtains Sarah Koenig-style celebrity, but more importantly, this allows the Wrongfully Convicted Man's family to finally clear their father's name, with the reputation of the Hoyt corporation & the political career of State Attorney General Kindt blown to dust. Hays & West become folklore renegade heroes for their acts, just like Rust & Marty. But Henry knows the details now shared could expose his father's old buddy Roland to a charge, despite his age. He owes that old man a visit, an explanation, maybe some modern legal advice on how to protect himself from the media & legal intrusion that's a-coming by pinning all the murders on his father, Wayne. He secretly loves that his father did that vigilante shit. He's happy for him to take the weight. Maybe Wayne already did put the weight on himself in the dictaphone message, maybe Henry taped over the bits that mentioned murder, but the media/law are still surely gonna come knocking for Roland at some point now, with questions. Cause this shit is worldwide. It's viral. Everybody’s gonna want a piece of Roland. They need to co-ordinate, he owes him that courtesy as a minimum. The final shots of the season are of the family of the Wrongfully Convicted Man paying their private respects at the side-by-side graves of Wayne & Amelia Hays for salvaging their father's name (if the Wrongfully Convicted Man is Woodard, maybe it would be cool if they sung the Native American Warrior's Mourning Song with a solemn dignity, draping their father's Vietnam medals over Wayne's grave in respect https://youtu.be/uzf3bjyDNAY); and Henry Hays arriving at Roland West's home to give him the dictaphone, tell him what his Dad said, and co-ordinate. As he arrives, Roland is hollering & hoo-eeeing with delight at his TV watching the news as the cuffs go on Gerald Kindt. They go outside & share a Soco dub on the porch in a knowing, satisfied silence. They look up, watching the big harvest moon. What it means to them. How before, it was just a reminder of the cold. Of all the pain. And now, how it floods everything with light. After some time, Roland glances at the dictaphone that Henry brought. Roland grins, looks toward the harvest moon, then, at peace with his past, finally, drawls "Y'know, sunnnn... The thing about yr Daddy.......... He always did have a big fuckin’ mouth". They laugh. Henry: "Yessir :) He sure did.. He sure did." CREDITS.
Every weekday evening at around 9pm, in the Daily Mail’s headquarters in Kensington, west London, the slightly stooping, six-foot three-inch figure of Paul Dacre emerges into the main open-plan office where editors, sub-editors and designers are in the final stages of preparing pages for the next day’s paper. The atmosphere changes instantly; everyone becomes tense, as though waiting for a thunderstorm. Dacre begins with a low growl, like an angry tiger. His voice rises as several pages are denounced, along with those responsible. Imprecations reverberate across the office, sometimes punctuated by the strangely anomalous command to a senior colleague, “Don’t resist me, darling.” Pages must be replaced or redesigned, their order changed, headlines altered. New pictures are required with new captions. Dacre waves his long arms, hammers the air with his hands, shouts even louder and, if particularly agitated, scratches himself. Nobody tries to argue. For all the fear and exasperation – “He never thinks of logistics and he has no idea of what’s an unreasonable request,” says one former sub-editor – there is also admiration. Dacre, Fleet Street’s best-paid editor, who earned almost £1.8m in 2012, has been in charge of the Mail since 1992 and, by general consent, is the most successful editor of his generation. The paper sells an average of 1.5 million copies on weekdays, 2.4 million on Saturdays. Only the Sun sells more but, on Saturdays, the Mail has just moved ahead. Its 4.3 million daily readers include more from the top three social classes (A, B and C1) than the Times, Guardian, Independent and Financial Times combined. Its long-standing middle-market rival, the Daily Express, slightly ahead when Dacre took over, now sells less than a third as many copies. Under Dacre, the Mail has won Newspaper of the Year six times in the annual British Press Awards – twice as many prizes as any other paper. If anything, its authority and clout have grown in the past two years as Rupert Murdoch’s Sun has struggled with the fallout from the hacking scandal. Politicians no longer fear Murdoch as they once did. They still fear Dacre. The opposition from Murdoch’s papers to the government’s proposals that a royal charter should regulate the press is muted. Dacre’s Mail is loud and clear about the threat to “our free press”. Summoned twice before the Leveson inquiry – the second time because he had accused the actor Hugh Grant of lying in his evidence – he didn’t give an inch. Everyone who has ever worked for Dacre, who has just passed his 65th birthday, praises his almost uncanny instinct for the issues and stories that will hold the attention of “Middle England”. No other editor so deftly balances the mix of subjects and moods that holds readers’ attention: serious and frivolous, celebrities and ordinary people, urban, suburban and rural, some stories provoking anger, others tears. No other editor chooses, with such unerring and lethal precision, the issues, often half forgotten, that will create panic and fear among politicians. “He’s the most consummate newspaperman I’ve ever met,” says Charles Burgess, a former features editor who also occupied high-level roles at the Guardian and Independent. “He balances the flow of each day’s paper in his head.” “He articulates the dreams, fears and hopes of socially insecure members of the suburban middle class,” says Peter Oborne, the Mail’s former political columnist now at the Daily Telegraph. “It’s a daily performance of genius.” But Murdoch’s decline leaves the Mail under more scrutiny than ever. Is Dacre at last running out of road? Rumours circulate in the national newspaper industry that members of the Rothermere family, owners of the Daily Mail, are increasingly nervous of the controversy that Dacre stirs up, notably this year with its attack on Ralph Miliband, father of the Labour leader, as “the man who hated Britain”. More than any other editor since Kelvin MacKenzie ruled at the Sun – and, among other outrages, alleged that drunkenness among Liverpool football fans led to the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 – Dacre attracts visceral loathing. His enemies see the Mail, to quote the Huffington Post writer and NS columnist Mehdi Hasan (who was duly monstered in the Mail’s pages), as “immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, Muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting”. The loathing is returned, with interest. In Dacre’s mind, the country is run, in effect, by affluent metropolitan liberals who dominate Whitehall, the leadership of the main political parties, the universities, the BBC and most public-sector professions. As he once said, “. . . no day is too busy or too short not to find time to tweak the noses of the liberalocracy”. The Mail, in his view, speaks for ordinary people, working hard and struggling with their bills, conventional in their views, ambitious for their children, loyal to their country, proud of owning their home, determined to stand on their own feet. These people, Dacre believes, are not given a fair hearing in the national media and the Mail alone fights for them. It is incomprehensible to him – a gross category error – that critics should be obsessed by the Mail’s power and influence when the BBC, funded by a compulsory poll tax, dominates the news market. It uses this position, he argues, to push a dogmatically liberal agenda, hidden behind supposed neutrality. Scarcely an issue of the Mail passes without a snipe and sometimes a full barrage in the news pages, leaders or signed opinion columns at BBC “bias”. To its critics, however, the Mail is as biased as it’s possible to be, and none too fussy about the facts. In the files of the Press Complaints Commission, you will find records of 687 complaints against the Mail which led either to a PCC adjudication or to a resolution negotiated, at least partially, after the PCC’s intervention. The number far exceeds that for any other British newspaper: the files show 394 complaints against the Sun, 221 against the Daily Telegraph, 115 against the Guardian. The complaints will serve as a charge sheet against the Mail and its editor. This year, the Mail reported that disabled people are exempt from the bedroom tax; that asylum-seekers had “targeted” Scotland; that disabled babies were being euthanised under the Liverpool Care Pathway; that a Kenyan asylum-seeker had committed murders in his home country; that 878,000 recipients of Employment Support Allowance had stopped claiming “rather than face a fresh medical”; that a Portsmouth primary school had denied pupils water on the hottest day of the year because it was Ramadan; that wolves would soon return to Britain; that nearly half the electricity produced by windfarms was discarded. All these reports were false. Mail executives argue that it gets more complaints than its rivals because it reaches more readers (particularly online, where the paper’s stories are repeated and others originate), prints more pages and tackles more serious and politically challenging issues. They point out that only six complaints were upheld after going through all the PCC’s stages and that the Sun and Telegraph, despite fewer complaints, had more upheld. But the PCC list, though it contains some of the Mail’s favourite targets such as asylum-seekers and “scroungers”, merely scratches the surface. Other complainants turned to the law. In the past ten years, the Mail has reported that the dean of RAF College Cranwell showed undue favouritism to Muslim students (false); the film producer Steve Bing hired a private investigator to destroy the reputation of his former lover Liz Hurley (false); the actress Sharon Stone left her four-year-old child alone in a car while she dined at a restaurant (false); the actor Rowan Atkinson needed five weeks’ treatment at a clinic for depression (false); a Tamil refugee, on hunger strike in Parliament Square, was secretly eating McDonald’s burgers (false); the actor Kate Winslet lied over her exercise regime (false); the singer Elton John ordered guests at his Aids charity ball to speak to him only if spoken to (false); Amama Mbabazi, the prime minister of Uganda, benefited personally from the theft of £10m in foreign aid (false). In all these cases, the Mail paid damages. Then there are the subjects that the Mail and other right-wing papers will never drop. One is the EU, which, the Mail reported last year, proposed to ban books such as Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series that portray “traditional” families. Another is local authorities, forever plotting to expel Christmas from public life and replace it with the secular festival of Winterval. It does not matter how often these reports are denied and their flimsy provenance exposed; the Mail keeps on running them and its columnists cite them as though they were accepted wisdom. The paper gets away with publishing libels and falsehoods and with invasions of privacy because the penalties are insignificant. Often the victims can’t afford to sue and, if they can, the Mail group, with £282m annual profits even in these straitened times, can live with the costs. The PCC, even when its rules allow it to admit a complaint, has no powers to impose fines or to stipulate the prominence of corrections. Besides, many victims don’t pursue complaints because they fear the stress of going to war with a powerful newspaper. They included the late writer Siân Busby who, the paper wrote in 2008, had received “the all-clear from lung cancer” after “a gruelling year”. In fact, the diagnosis had come less than six months earlier and she hadn’t received the “all-clear”. More important, as her husband, the BBC journalist Robert Peston, explained in the James Cameron Memorial Lecture in November this year, she wanted to keep the news out of the public domain to protect her children. “The Mail got away with it,” Peston said. “As it often does.” (The Mail, in a statement after the lecture, said the information had been obtained from Busby herself and that the reporter had identified himself as a Mail writer.) In his 2008 book Flat Earth News, the Guardian journalist Nick Davies compared the paper to a footballer who, to protect his goal, will deliberately bring down an opponent. “Brilliant and corrupt,” Davies wrote, “the Daily Mail is the professional foul of contemporary Fleet Street.” Even a list of official complaints and court cases doesn’t quite capture why the Mail attracts such fear and loathing. It has a unique capacity for targeting individuals and twisting the knife day after day, without necessarily lapsing into inaccuracies that could lead either to libel writs or censure by the PCC. For instance, as publication of the Leveson report on press regulation approached, the Mail devoted 12 pages of one issue – and several more pages of subsequent issues – to an “exposure” of Sir David Bell, a name then almost entirely unknown even to well-informed members of the public. A Leveson assessor and former Financial Times chairman, Bell was allegedly at the centre of a “quasi-masonic” network of “elitist liberals”, bent on gagging the press and preventing freedom of expression. This network, based on the “leadership” training organisation Common Purpose, had spawned the Media Standards Trust, of which Bell was a co-founder, which in turn had spawned the lobby group Hacked Off, an important influence on Leveson. To the Mail, this was a perfect illustration of how well-connected liberals, through networks of apparently innocuous organisations, conspire to undermine national traditions and values. The paper also targets groups, often the weak and vulnerable. The Federation of Poles in Great Britain complained to the PCC that the Mail ran 80 headlines between 2006 and 2008 linking Poles to problems in the NHS and schools, unemployment among Britons, drug smuggling, rape and so on. Most of the stories, as the federation acknowledged, were newsworthy and largely accurate. The objection was to the way they were presented and to the drip, drip effect of continually highlighting the Polish connection so that, as the federation’s spokesman put it, the average reader’s heart “skips a beat . . . with either indignation or alarm”. The PCC eventually brokered a settlement that led to publication of a letter from the federation. ￼ Yet there is something magnificent about the Mail’s confidence and single-mindedness. Other papers, trimming to focus groups, muffle their message, but the Mail projects its world-view relentlessly, with supreme technical skill, from almost every page. It is a paper led by its opinions, not by news. It is not noted for big exclusives, nor even for rapid reaction. “We were often known as the day-late paper,” a former reporter recalls. “Dacre wouldn’t really be interested in a story until he’d seen it somewhere else. We would sometimes give our exclusives to other journalists. Dacre surveys all the other papers, selects the right lines for the next day and follows them.” Although Dacre has little enthusiasm for new technology – he still doesn’t have a computer on his desk – his paper is perfectly primed for the age of instant 24-hour news, when the challenge is not so much to find and report news as to select, interpret and elaborate on it. Long before other papers recognised the merits of a features-led or views-led approach, the Mail under Dacre was doing it. The Mail gives its readers a sense of belonging in an increasingly complex and unsettling world. Part of the trick is to make the world seem more threatening than it is: crime is rising, migrants flooding the country, benefit scroungers swindling the taxpayer, standards of education falling, wind turbines taking over the countryside. Almost anything you eat or drink could give you cancer. Above all, the family – “the greatest institution on God’s green earth”, Dacre told a writer for the New Yorker last year – is under continuous assault. The Mail assures readers they are not alone in their anxieties about this changing world. It is a paper to be read, not on trains or buses or in offices, but in the peace and quiet of your home, preferably with an old-fashioned coal fire blazing in the hearth. “Readers like certainty,” says a former Mail reporter. “Newspapers that have a wavering grip on their ideology are the ones that struggle. The Mail is like Coke. It’s consistent, reliable. Dacre is one of the best brand managers in the business. He lives the brand.” Dacre lives mostly in the shadows. His two appearances before the Leveson inquiry gave the wider public a rare glimpse; apart from Desert Island Discs in 2004, he never appears on television or speaks on radio. If the Mail needs to defend itself (and it deigns to do so only in the most desperate circumstances), the job is assigned to an underling. Requests for on-the-record interviews are invariably refused, as they were for this article. A rare exception was made for the British Journalism Review, whose then editor, Bill Hagerty (a former editor of the People), interviewed Dacre in the tenth year of his editorship. There was also that audience with the New Yorker last year. Public lectures are equally unusual for him, though he gave the Cudlipp Lecture (in memory of Hugh Cudlipp, a Daily Mirror editor who was an early hero of his) in 2007, and addressed the Society of Editors in 2008. Even former staff members mostly prefer not to be quoted when talking about Dacre. If they agree to be quoted, they wish the quotations to be checked with them before publication. BBC Radio 4 used actors for several contributions to a recent profile. The journalists’ fear is not only that they may be cut off from future employment or freelance work – “The Mail pays far better than anybody else and you don’t want to jeopardise the £2,000 cheque that might drop through the letter box,” said one writer – but also that the Mail may hit back. These concerns are shared by many politicians, who are equally reluctant to be quoted. Dacre has few social graces and even less small talk. His body language is awkward, his manner prickly. He seldom smiles and, according to one ex-columnist, “He doesn’t laugh, he just says, ‘That’s a funny remark.’” He treats women with old-fashioned courtliness, opening doors and helping them with coats, but is otherwise uncomfortable with them, perhaps because he was one of five brothers, went to an all-male school and has no daughters. He speaks gruffly, with a slight north London accent and an even fainter trace of his father’s native Yorkshire. He sometimes buries his rather florid face deep in his hands, as though exasperated with the world’s inability to share his simple, common-sense values. He became notorious for the ripeness of his language – so frequent was his use of the C-word, almost entirely directed at men, that his staff referred to “the vagina monologues” – but when Charles Burgess told him women didn’t like hearing it he was profusely apologetic. On Desert Island Discs, he confessed to shouting at staff. “Shouting creates energy,” he said. “Energy creates great headlines.” He still shouts, but in recent years, as an insider reported, “He’s no longer the expletive volcano he once was; his barbs these days tend to concern the brainpower of his target and their supposed laziness.” He owns three properties: a home with a mile-long drive in West Sussex (known to Mail staff as Dacre Towers), a more modest weekday residence in the central London district of Belgravia and a seven-bedroom house in Scotland with a 17,000-acre shooting estate. He is a member of the Garrick Club, and sometimes takes columnists to lunch at Mark’s Club in Mayfair, which one recipient of his hospitality described as “very decorous, the sort of place you could have gone to in the 19th century”. He sent both of his sons to Eton. There are no stories of past or present indiscretions involving women, alcohol or drugs. Jon Holmes, a contemporary at Leeds University who is now a sports agent, recalls him as “a very cold fish; he never, ever, seemed to go out in a group for a drink or a meal or anything”. A former Mail reporter says: “We’d all be in the Harrow [a Fleet Street pub, heavily frequented by Mail journalists], and he would come in, buy a half-pint, take it to the opposite end of the bar, drink alone, and leave without speaking.” He has an apparently stable and successful marriage to a woman he met at university, which has lasted 37 years. He frequently attends Church of England services, but is not a believer. He likes and sometimes goes out to rugby union matches, the opera and theatre – the last partly because his wife, Kathleen Dacre, is a professor of theatre studies and partly because he has a son who is a successful director and producer with surprisingly avant-garde leanings. Asked what television he watched, he once mentioned Midsomer Murders and nothing else. He mostly eschews the trappings and opportunities of wealth and power. It is impossible to imagine him as a member of the Chipping Norton set or anything like it. He rarely dines or lunches with the powerful or fashionable, nor does he attend glitzy parties and social events. Frequently, he lunches in his office on meat and two veg. Sometimes he will lunch with politicians, but he has little respect or liking for them as a class and thinks it wise to keep his distance; Oborne recalls how, one evening, he ignored at least five increasingly urgent requests to take a call from a senior Tory minister. He declines nearly all invitations to sit on committees; his chairmanship of an official inquiry into the “30-year rule” (under which Whitehall records were kept secret for three decades) was unusual. “Editorship is not for him a route to something else,” says a former employee.
Dacre was born and spent much of his childhood in Enfield, an unremarkable middle-class suburb of north London whose inhabitants, he told the New Yorker, “were frugal, reticent, utterly self-reliant and immensely aspirational . . . suspicious of progressive values, vulgarity of any kind, self-indulgence, pretentiousness and people who know best”. Though his parents divorced late in life, his family was then (at least in his eyes) stable, happy and secure. But the more important clue to him and his relationship with the Mail’s Middle England readership is the Sunday Express of the 1950s and 1960s under the editorship of John Gordon and then John Junor. “That paper,” Dacre told the Society of Editors, “was my journalistic primer . . . [It] was warm, aspirational, unashamedly traditional, dedicated to decency, middlebrow, beautifully written and subbed, accessible, and, above all, utterly relevant to the lives of its readers.” Talking to Hagerty, he described Junor’s Sunday Express as “one of the great papers of all time”. After leaving school in Yorkshire at 16, his father, Peter Dacre, joined the Sunday Express at 21 and stayed there for the rest of his working life – mainly as a show-business writer but also, for short periods, as New York correspondent and foreign editor. Each Sunday that week’s paper was discussed and analysed over the Dacre family dinner table. It was then in its heyday, selling five million copies a week, and it didn’t go into severe decline (it now sells under 440,000) until the 1980s. It was a formulaic paper, which placed the same types of stories and features in exactly the same spots week after week. As Roy Greenslade observes in Press Gang, his post-1944 history of national newspapers, it was “virtually devoid of genuine news”; what it presented as news stories were really quirky mini-features, starting, as Greenslade put it, “with lengthy scene-setting descriptions or homilies”. Its staple subjects were animals, motor cars and wartime heroes. Its biggest target was “filth”, in the theatre, the cinema, books, magazines and TV programmes. It particularly deplored any assault on the delicate sensibilities of children. Dacre’s father criticised the BBC in 1965 for the unsuitable content of its Sunday teatime serials. Lorna Doone, he wrote, ended “gruesomely”, with a man drowning in a bog, and in the first episode of a spy serial the actors used such expressions as “damn”, “hell” and “silly bitch” at a time supposedly reserved for “family viewing”. “Have the men responsible for these programmes,” asked the elder Dacre, “forgotten that there can be no family without children? What kind of men are they? Do they have families of their own?” Another piece denounced the BBC’s Sunday evening play for “an overdose of twisted social conscience”. The young Dacre was hooked by newspapers. He only ever wanted to be a journalist and he always had his eyes on editing: “I’m a good writer, but not a great writer,” he told Hagerty. As a child in New York, during his father’s posting there, he would wake to the clattering of the ticker-tape telex machine outside his bedroom. In school holidays, he worked as a messenger for Junor’s Sunday Express and then spent a gap year before university as a trainee on the Daily Express. At the fee-charging University College School in Hampstead, north London, he edited the school magazine, and once ran, he told the Society of Editors, “a ponderous, prolix and achingly dull” special issue about the evangelist Billy Graham. It “went down like a sodden hot cross bus”, teaching him the essential lesson, which the Mail remembers every day on every page, that the worst sin in journalism is to be boring. To his disappointment, his application to Oxford University failed. He went instead to Leeds, where he read English and edited Union News, taking it sharply downmarket from, in his own description, “a product that looked like the then Times on Prozac” to one that ran “Leeds Lovelies” on page three. It won an award for student newspaper of the year. The paper supported a sit-in (led by the union president, Jack Straw, later a Labour cabinet minister), interviewed a student about “the delights of getting stoned”, wrote sympathetically about gay people, immigrants and homeless families, and called on students to help in “breaking down the barriers between the coloured and white communities of this town”. At the time, he subsequently claimed, he was left-wing, though Jon Holmes, who worked on Dacre’s Union News, says: “I never heard him express a political view except in favour of planned economies for third-world, though not first-world, countries.” His left-wing period, as he calls it, continued until the Daily Express, which he joined as soon as he left Leeds, sent him to America in 1976. He stayed there for six years, latterly working for the Mail. “America,” Dacre told Hagerty, “taught me the power of the free market . . . to improve the lives of the vast majority of ordinary people.” The Mail brought him back to London in the early 1980s and made him news editor. According to various accounts, he would “rampage through the newsroom with arms flailing like a windmill”, shouting “Go, paras, go” as he despatched reporters on stories. He climbed the hierarchy until in 1991 he became the editor of the London Evening Standard, then owned, like the Mail, by the Rothermeres’ Associated Newspapers. Circulation rose by 25 per cent in 16 months and Rupert Murdoch sounded him out about the Times editorship. To stop him leaving, the Mail editor David English resigned his chair, recommended that Dacre should replace him, and moved “upstairs” as editor-in-chief, another title that Dacre eventually inherited after English died in 1998. Dacre’s editorship has been more successful than his mentor’s but most staff do not love him as they did English. English, though capable of great coldness to those who fell into disfavour and no less likely to fly off the handle, had charm and charisma. “He would be delighted when you rang,” a former foreign correspondent says, “and he’d want to gossip and know about everything that was going on. Sometimes we’d talk for an hour. But Paul doesn’t give good phone.” He will invite writers into his office, push a glass of champagne into their hands and start saying their latest story is rubbish even as he does so. “And you hardly got time to finish the bloody drink,” a former reporter complains. A former executive says: “His track record for creating columnists is nil. He buys them up from elsewhere. He doesn’t home-grow talent because he doesn’t nurture and praise it. That’s where he’s unlike English.” Dacre is a passionate and emotional man. Though the story that he sometimes sheds tears as he dictates leaders is probably apocryphal, nobody who has worked with him doubts that he is sincere in the views he and the Mail express. “He’s not an editor who wakes up in the morning and wonders what he should be thinking today,” says Simon Heffer, a Mail columnist. Another columnist, Amanda Platell, a former editor of the Sunday Mirror and press secretary to William Hague during his leadership of the Conservative Party, says: “When I was an editor, I had to second-guess my readership because they weren’t my natural constituency. Paul never has to do that.” But while his views are mostly right-wing, he is not a reliable ally for the Conservative Party, or for anyone else. This aspect of his way of working is little understood. More than most editors, it can be said of him that he is in nobody’s pocket, not even his proprietor’s. He inherited from English a paper that was slavishly pro-Tory (“David was always in and out of No 10,” said a long-serving Mail editor), firmly pro-Europe and read mainly by people in London and the south-east. Dacre changed the politics of the paper and the demographics of its audience. Today, it is resolutely – some would say hysterically – Eurosceptic and a far higher proportion of its readership is from Scotland and the English north and midlands. The Mail has ceased to take its line from Tory headquarters or to act as a mouthpiece for Conservative leaders. Indeed, every Tory leader since Margaret Thatcher has fallen short of Dacre’s exacting standards. That applies particularly to John Major and David Cameron. According to a former columnist, Dacre regards the latter as “brash, shallow, unthinking and self-advancing” and he takes an equally jaundiced view of Boris Johnson. Twice he backed Kenneth Clarke for the party leadership, despite Clarke’s enthusiasm for the EU. Clarke is a model for the politicians Dacre generally favours even if he disagrees with most of what they say: earthy, authentic, unpretentious, consistent in their values. Jack Straw and David Blunkett – both, like Clarke, from humble backgrounds – are other examples. For a time, Dacre took a relatively kindly view of Tony Blair, having been impressed by the future prime minister’s “tough on crime” approach as shadow home secretary. But he was always suspicious of Blair’s socially liberal views on marriage, gays and drugs and he told Hagerty that once Labour attained power, he saw the new government as “manipulative, dictatorial and slightly corrupt”. He wished, he added, that Blair had “done as much for the family as he’s done for gay rights”. Gordon Brown, however, was smiled upon as no other politician had ever been. The two men developed a strange friendship, involving meals together and walks in the park, which one Mail columnist described to me as “the attraction of the two weirdest boys in the playground”. Brown, Dacre told Hagerty, was “touched by the mantle of greatness . . . he is a genuinely good man . . . a compassionate man . . . an original thinker . . . of enormous willpower and courage”. At a Savoy Hotel event to celebrate Dacre’s first ten years as editor, Brown was almost equally effusive, describing the Mail editor as showing “great personal warmth and kindness . . . as well as great journalistic skill”. “We tried to tell Dacre,” says a former Mail political reporter, “that Brown was not a very good chancellor and the economy would implode eventually. But frankly, Dacre has poor political judgement. They were united by a mutual hatred of Blair. Both are social conservatives; they’re both suspicious of foreigners; they both have a kind of Presbyterian morality. Dacre would say that Brown believes in work. It’s typical of him that he seizes on a single word as the key to his understanding of someone else.” It is inconceivable that the Mail would ever back a party other than the Conservatives in a general election, but Dacre’s support can be cool, as it was in 1997 and 2010. Although he described himself to Hagerty as “a Thatcherite politically” and though self-made entrepreneurs are among the few people who can expect favourable coverage in the Mail, Dacre is, to most neoliberals, a tepid and inconsistent supporter of free enterprise. Nor is he a neocon. The Mail opposed overseas military interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria. It has denounced Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition and torture. It may be hard on immigrants and benefit scroungers, but it is often equally hard on the rich and famous, pursuing overpaid bosses of public-service utilities to their luxurious homes, exposing “depravity” among the well-heeled and high-born, and rarely treating TV and film celebrities with the deference that is the staple fare of other tabloids. Many Mail campaigns have centred on liberal or environmental causes: lead in petrol, plastic bags, secret justice, the extradition to the United States of the hacker Gary McKinnon, and so on. For a time, the Mail furiously campaigned to stop Labour deporting failed (black) asylum-seekers to Zimbabwe, even though, almost simultaneously, it was berating ministers for allowing too many illegal immigrants to stay. Other campaigns, such as those against internet porn and super-casinos (both of which influenced government action), though reflecting the Mail’s conservative social agenda, highlighted issues that concern many on the left. Dacre’s most celebrated campaign, which even some of his enemies regard as his finest hour, was to bring the killers of Stephen Lawrence to justice. In 1997, over the five photographs of those he believed were responsible, he ran the headline “MURDERERS” and, beneath it, asserted: “The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us”. It was hugely courageous, but did it exonerate the Mail from accusations of racism? Critics point out that the paper rarely features black people except as criminals, though this is not exceptional for the nationals. The “soft” features on women, fashion, style and health are illustrated almost entirely by white faces and bodies.
Dacre’s somewhat belated support for the Lawrence campaign was prompted by a personal connection: Neville Lawrence, Stephen’s father, had worked as a decorator on Dacre’s London house of the time, in Islington. The Mail’s campaign, critics argue, was based on substituting one frame of prejudice for another. Young Stephen eschewed gangs and drugs, did his homework and wanted to go to university. His parents were married, aspirational and home-owning. In everything except skin colour, the Lawrence family represented Middle England, while his white alleged killers were low-class yobs who threatened the safety of all respectable folk. In that, as in much else, Dacre’s Mail recalls 1950s Britain, which rather patronisingly welcomed migrants from Asia and the Caribbean as long as they behaved as though they and their ancestors were English. “If you’re in twinset and pearls, your colour is irrelevant,” says a former Mail journalist. “And Dacre’s attitude to gays changed when he realised it’s possible to be an extremely boring gay person.” The Mail’s attitudes to drugs are also redolent of the 1950s. Writing about the disgraced Co-operative Bank chairman Paul Flowers, Stephen Glover – the Mail columnist whose views, according to insiders, track Dacre’s most closely – criticised commentators who “concentrated on his financial unsuitability”, placing “relatively little emphasis” on his “moral turpitude”. Most of all, the Mail seems determined to uphold the 1950s ideal of womanhood: the stay-at-home mother who dedicates herself to homemaking and prepares a cooked dinner for her husband on his return home every night. That, the paper’s defenders say, is something of a caricature of the Mail’s position. It objects not so much to working mothers as to middle-class feminists who insist that women can “have it all”. English aimed at turning the Mail into “the women’s paper”, and succeeded: it became the only national newspaper where women accounted for more than half the readership. That remains true, and yet Dacre sometimes seems determined to drive them away. The paper subjects women’s bodies, clothes and deportment to relentless and detailed scrutiny, and often finds them wanting, particularly in the thigh and bottom department. It gives prominent coverage to research that warns of the negative effects of working mothers on children’s lives. The Mail’s poster girl is Liz Jones, the columnist and fashion editor celebrated for her self-hatred and misery. “She has so much,” says another Mail journalist, “lots of money, expensive houses, the newest clothes. But she’s never had a child, she hasn’t kept hold of a man, and she’s unhappy. The message is: it’s what happens to you, girls, if you pursue worldly success. You can succeed but, oh boy, you will suffer for it.” The Mail’s punishing hours, requiring news and features executives to stay at the office until late into the evening (not uncommon in national newspapers), and its largely unsympathetic attitude to part-time employment make it an unfriendly environment for working mothers. When Dacre took over at the Mail, he immediately appointed a female deputy, which, said another woman who then had a senior role in the group, “was quite a statement”. But the paper now has few women in its most senior positions, other than the editor of Femail (though sometimes even that post is occupied by a man), and few staff have young children. Yet in some respects, the Mail, even though it does not recognise the National Union of Journalists, is a good employer. Unlike the Mirror, it is not under a company ruled by accountants who single-mindedly seek “efficiencies”. Unlike the Times and the Sun, it does not have a proprietor who touts his papers’ support to the highest bidder. Unlike the Guardian and Independent, it is not beset by financial problems. The proprietor, Viscount (Jonathan) Rothermere, whose great-grandfather Harold Harmsworth founded the paper with his brother Alfred in 1896, allows his editors wide freedom, as did his father, Vere Rothermere, who appointed Dacre. The Mail, alone among national newspapers, has had no significant rounds of editorial redundancies in recent years and its staffing levels (it employs about 400 journalists) are comparable to what they were a decade ago. Dacre’s paper is his sole domain; MailOnline is run separately (though Dacre, as editor-in-chief, has oversight) and although the website carries all daily and Sunday paper stories, much of its content is self-generated and the editorial flavour is distinct. Dacre demands, and mostly gets, a generous budget, paying high salaries for established editorial staff and columnists and high fees for freelance contributors. Journalists are driven hard but, at senior levels in particular, they rarely leave, not least because Dacre is as loyal to them as they mostly are to him. Outright sackings are rare and nearly always accompanied by large payoffs. Those who do leave often reach the top elsewhere. The current editors of both Telegraph papers – Tony Gallagher at the daily and Ian MacGregor at the Sunday – are former Mail executives. Despite more than two decades at the helm, Dacre shows few signs of slowing down. After heart trouble some years ago – which caused an absence of several months from the office – his holidays, which he usually takes in the British Virgin Islands, have become slightly longer and more frequent. But he still routinely puts in 14-hour days. Nevertheless, speculation about his future has grown among journalists on the Mail and other papers. At the end of November, Dacre sold his last remaining shares in the Daily Mail and General Trust, the Mail’s parent company, for £347,564; he disposed of the majority in 2012. His latest contract, signed on his 65th birthday, is for one year only. Geordie Greig, the 53-year-old editor of the Mail on Sunday, is widely regarded as the most likely successor, though Martin Clarke, the abrasive publisher of the phenomenally successful MailOnline, now the most visited newspaper website in the world, is also tipped and Jon Steafel, Dacre’s deputy, is favoured by most staff. The surprising announcement in November that Richard Kay, the paper’s diarist and a long-standing friend of Dacre’s, is to leave his position looks like another straw in the wind, particularly given that his almost certain replacement is Sebastian Shakespeare, previously the diary editor at the London Evening Standard, where Greig was editor before he moved to the Mail on Sunday. Fleet Street rumour has it that Kay is being moved because he upset friends of Lady Rothermere, the proprietor’s wife, and that she is also behind the abrupt departure of the columnist Melanie Phillips, apparently on the grounds that her style – particularly during a June appearance on BBC1’s Question Time – is too shrill. Lady Rothermere, it is said, is desperately keen to oust Dacre in favour of Greig. Senior Mail sources pooh-pooh such tales, but they stop short of outright denials that Dacre is nearing the end of his days on the paper.
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Cobra Juicy-Black Moth Super Rainbow Instrumental Tourist-Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin Wild Water Kingdom-Heems Wiki93-Ratking Jesus Piece-The Game Les Voyages de l'Âme-Alcest Phantom Antchrist-Kreator Autotheism-The Faceless Agnus Dei-The Secret 4/10 Young & Old-Tennis The OF Tape Vol.2-Odd Future Acousmatic Sorcery-Willis Earl Beal Kill for Love-Chromatics Strange Clouds-B.o.B. Life is Good-Nas Coexist-The xx Devotion-Jessie Ware Based On A T.R.U. Story-2 Chainz (III)-Crystal Castles Zeros-The Soft Moon Finally Rich-Chief Keef The Parallax II: Future Sequence-Between the Buried and Me 3/10 Born to Die-Lana Del Rey Resolution-Lamb of God Synthetica-Metric WZRD-WZRD The Only Place-Best Coast The Stoned Immaculate-Curren$y Born Villain-Marilyn Manson God Forgives, I Don't-Rick Ross The 2nd Law-Muse Lords Never Worry-A$AP Mob Numbers-MellowHype Welcome to: Our House-Slaughterhouse Into The Future-Bad Brains 2/10 PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone-John Frusciante 1/10 n/a 0/10 n/a Other lists 2010: https://www.reddit.com/fantanoforevecomments/d2a9uq/all_ratings_of_2010/ 2011: https://www.reddit.com/fantanoforevecomments/d3paad/all_ratings_of_2011/ 2013: https://www.reddit.com/fantanoforevecomments/d5kels/all_ratings_of_2013/ 2014: https://www.reddit.com/fantanoforevecomments/d95b5w/all_ratings_of_2014/ 2015: https://www.reddit.com/fantanoforevecomments/dem7xc/all_ratings_of_2015/ 2016: https://www.reddit.com/fantanoforevecomments/df0mhl/all_ratings_of_2016/ 2017: https://www.reddit.com/fantanoforevecomments/dfi9kz/all_ratings_of_2017/ 2018: https://www.reddit.com/fantanoforevecomments/dgry9t/all_ratings_of_2018/ 2019: https://www.reddit.com/fantanoforevecomments/d1arzj/all_ratings_of_2019_so_fa
Chocolate and Wine Pairing, December 12 - 13Come in anytime between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and taste five award winning estate red wines paired to perfection with five specialty chocolates. Reservations are only required for groups of six or more. 11am-4pm, $20 Sunset Meadow Vineyards, 599 Old Middle St. Goshen, CT
Northern Lights, December 12 - 14Mystic Aquarium lights up during Northern Lights… A sea of lights leads the way through a mesmerizing journey along the Aquarium’s outdoor pathways. See Arctic animals in a whole new light – quite literally – as you stroll to theatric music in search of hand-crafted lanterns that bring Arctic animals to life! Snap selfies and meet the Snow Sisters every Thursday, Father Christmas on Fridays and Petey the Penguin each Saturday. Plus, stop by our Send a Wish Upon a Star station to write notes and wishes to the men and women serving overseas this holiday season. An alfresco experience unlike any other, Northern Lights is sure to be a new family tradition, a truly romantic date night and Mystic Aquarium’s biggest holiday event yet. Pulling inspiration from the most spectacular natural light display there is – the aurora borealis – Northern Lights is sure to be just as magical and inspiring. 6pm-9pm, General admission $15, members $12, children (2 and under) free. Mystic Aquarium, 55 Coogan Blvd. Mystic, CT
An Improvised Christmas Carol, December 12 - 22Come see a hilarious retelling of Charles Dickens's Christmas classic twist! This show combines your suggestions with the improvisers’ imaginations to create a performance of A Christmas Carol like nothing you have ever seen. What if Scrooge owned a pet store? What if the Ghost of Christmas Past was a Film Noir detective? What if Tiny Tim wasn't so tiny? Come find out and see how your suggestions tell an all new tale of how Christmas can (or can't!) change Ebenezer Scrooge's life. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m., Adults $15, children $10 Sea Tea Comedy Theater, 15 Asylum St. Hartford, CT
38th Annual Santa's Workshop, December 13 - 23Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, elves making toys, set in a log cabin with decorations and music, and a fire in the great stone fireplace. 3pm-5pm, FREE Wickham Park, 1329 West Middle Tpke. Manchester, CT
Polar Pajama Party, December 13 - 14Start or continue your holiday tradition here at the Connecticut Science Center. Put on your PJs and join us for a wintery-themed evening of entertainment for the whole family in celebration of the Season of Science! There will be games, prizes, holiday crafts, cookie decorating for the kids, and special appearances by the Gingerbread Man, Rudolph, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf. Visitors can also join Jack Frost for the annual “Elf Drop.” Plus, don’t forget your tickets to see the Polar Express in 3D, showing at two different times during the party. Everyone can enjoy a free child size Froyo or Hot Chocolate. Members Ticket Sales Open on Monday, November 4. Non-Member Ticket Sales Open on Monday, November 11. 5pm-9pm, Members $5, Non-members $18, Movie: $5 Connecticut Science Center, 250 Columbus Blvd. Hartford, CT
"The Treasure of Christmas Island", December 13 - 22A comedy-adventure of pirates, heroes, mermaids and dames in the tradition of an English Panto! Panto: A traditional fairy-tale farce for both adults and kids, with broad characters, jokes, local references, audience participation, songs and more! Performances: December 13-15, 20-22. Fri.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m., Adults $20; seniors, military $18; members $15; children (12 and under) $8. Donald L. Oat Theater at Norwich Arts Center, 62 Broadway, Norwich, CT
Festival of Lights, December 13Come and stroll through walkways brilliantly lit by thousands of luminaries. With live entertainment and complimentary treats, there's something for the entire family to enjoy. 5pm-9pm, FREE Olde Mistick Village, 27 Coogan Blvd. Mystic, CT
27th Annual Plainville Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Stroll, December 13The Plainville Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 27th Annual Plainville Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Stroll. The event includes holiday caroling, the lighting of the Town tree, visits from Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and horse and buggy rides through downtown. Refreshments will be made available. Please also visit our local downtown merchants as they will be hosting special offers and raffles throughout the night and weekend. 5pm-8pm, FREE Plainville Fire Department, 77 West Main St. Plainville, CT
Kids VR Night, December 13Drop the kids off at Xperiment Virtual Reality and enjoy a night off. We provide the snacks, drinks and the fun as well as some education into the mix. The kids have a fun Friday night playing VR as well as robots, and other STEM activities while you get time to yourselves. Your kids are guaranteed at least an hour of VR gaming time (more depending on availability). Limited spaces available so reserve now. Payment is required to hold your reservation. 6pm-8pm, $40 advanced, $45 at door. Xperiment VR, 100 Hawley Lane, Trumbull, CT
All Star Christmas Show, December 13Artists appearing in the show include Goo Goo Dolls, Hanson, Andy Grammer and Dean Lewis. 7:30pm, $35-$65 Mohegan Sun Arena, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd. Uncasville, CT
Nickelodeon's Double Dare Live!, December 13Double Dare Live Standard VIP Experience ticket includes a special photo opportunity with the iconic Double Dare Pick-it “Nose” obstacle prop presented in a private space at the venue with the Double Dare Live backdrop, and a VIP tour laminate. Double Dare Live Deluxe VIP Experience ticket includes a special photo opportunity with hosts Marc Summers and Robin Russo in a private space at the venue with the Double Dare Live backdrop, a VIP laminate, and a unique souvenir. A photographer will be available if the purchaser does not have a personal camera / cell-phone camera. The DD VIP Experience (both Standard AND VIP) purchasers must arrive at the theatre at 6:30pm.90 minutes in advance of the 8pm show start time. Proceed to the check-in table and pick up the DD VIP packet. Each adult and child in a group must have a DD VIP Ticket. Patrons will be directed to the photo opportunity which ends 30 minutes prior to show start time. Latecomers risk missing the opportunity, and no refunds will be issued if the purchasers are late. Must have separate ticket for the show. On your mark, get set, GO! The messiest game show on television is now the messiest game show on the road. Double Dare Live is coming to your town and will bring all the action and excitement of Nickelodeon’s hugely popular television show to the stage. All the Slime soaking, pie plastering, and booger busting will be hosted by the Double Dare legend himself Marc Summers! Bring your whole family to the show you loved as a child. You might even get chosen to compete to win by answering brain-bending trivia questions, complete messy physical stunts and even run the legendary obstacle course! 8pm, $32-$69 Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, 350 Trolley Line Blvd. Mashantucket, CT
"The Nutcracker", December 14 - 15It would not feel like the holidays without the timeless joy of The Nutcracker, and as part of The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory’s 50th anniversary season, the prestigious Torrington institution will unveil an exciting new production of The Nutcracker this year. Audiences will be dazzled by this reimagined full-length ballet, complete with new sets, costumes and choreography. All dance roles features trainees of The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory, along with cameo roles performed by children from The Torrington School of Ballet. These aspiring artists come from all over the country to hone their craft and develop their artistry at The Nutmeg. The mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer will once again be played by accomplished European stage actor Thomas Evertz. Originally conceived by Sharon Dante, this production features choreography by The Nutmeg's faculty, led by Artistic Director Victoria Mazzarelli, and is set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s musical masterpiece. Additional coaching is provided by Timothy Melady, Susan Szabo, Eleanor D’Antuono, Denise Warner Limoli, Joan Kunsch, and Alexei Tchernichov. Melady, The Nutmeg's Ballet Master, has led the production team responsible for bringing to reality the vision of Mazzarelli and scenic designer Roger LaVoie. Additional members of the design team include costume designers Susan Fazzino, Janessa Urwin and Susan Aziz; lighting designer Brian Sciarra; set construction by American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA; and painting by Roger LaVoie Designs/TSDesigns. Performances of The Nutcracker at Warner Theatre in Torrington are December 7 and December 8. Call The Warner Box Office at (860) 489-7180.Sat. & Sun. 12:30 p.m. & 4:30 p.m., $46-$71 The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave. Hartford, CT
Happy Hole-A-Days, December 14Mayor Erin E. Stewart, Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Patrick Dorsey, and Stanley Golf Course are pleased to announce that the driving range at Stanley Golf Course will be open seven days a week throughout the winter months of December, January and February from 9 a.m.-5 p.m In addition to the driving range being open all winter, Stanley will also see the return of two popular special events from previous years. Happy Hole-A-Days will return to Stanley Golf Course on Saturday, December 14, from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The event will be hosted by ESPN radio personality Rob Dibble and will include free buckets of balls, complimentary appetizers and beverage specials by Back Nine Tavern. Prizes will include restaurant, retail and pro shop gift cards along with the chance to win a 2020 season golf pass valued over $1,300. Back by popular demand, buckets of luck will also be returning to Stanley Golf Course in January and February where golfers can purchase buckets of balls on Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays between the hours of 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and enter themselves in a raffle to win lots of great prizes including a drawing for a 2020 season golf pass. 11:30am-1:30pm, FREE, Stanley Golf Course, 245 Hartford Rd. New Britain, CT
Jerry Seinfeld, December 14Entertainment icon Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy career took off after his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1981. Eight years later, he teamed up with fellow comedian Larry David to create what was to become the most successful comedy series in the history of television: Seinfeld. The show ran on NBC for nine seasons, winning numerous Emmy, Golden Globe and People’s Choice awards, and was named the greatest television show of all time in 2009 by TV Guide, and in 2012 was identified as the best sitcom ever in a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll. Seinfeld has also starred in, written and produced movies (Comedian, Bee Movie), directed and produced a Broadway hit (Colin Quinn Long Story Short), and even wrote a best-selling book (Seinlanguage) and a children’s book (Halloween). Seinfeld directed the off-Broadway production of Colin Quinn: The New York Story and the Netflix stand-up special. Seinfeld’s latest project is the Emmy nominated and critically-acclaimed web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee which has garnered over 100 million views, and which the New York Times describes as "impressively complex and artful" and Variety calls "a game changer." Most recently, Seinfeld has been performing at the Beacon Theatre as part of his residency entitled, Jerry Seinfeld: The Homestand. He recently made his Netflix debut with the original stand-up special Jerry Before Seinfeld. 8pm, $82.50-$150 Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, 350 Trolley Line Blvd. Mashantucket, CT
Sunday, December 15th, 2019:
Miss America 2020, December 15 - 19 The competition follows 51 compelling candidates as they compete for life-changing scholarships to be used to continue their efforts towards community service and education. The show will continue to highlight a diverse group of young students and professionals who are advancing the message of female strength, independence, and empowerment through their efforts in the areas of scholarship, talent and social impact. The Miss America Organization has ushered in a new era of progressiveness and inclusiveness, led by an all-female leadership team. Times vary, $75-$100 Mohegan Sun, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd. Uncasville, CT
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