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5 November 2018

“I won’t answer pub quiz questions”: Minister for media can’t name women columnists

Has Jeremy Wright ever been to a pub?

By media mole

What’s that? Slow news day, kids? Come one, come all, for Jeremy Wright is here to fill the void where events should be with the bigger void where his personality should be!

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – best understood as the human equivalent of photocopier toner – took to the stage at the annual Society of Editors pow wow this morning to do what he does best: demonstrating his terminal lack of interest in all of the things in his job title.

The media industry is the latest victim of Wright’s permanent air of polite bafflement at the core tenets of his job. And so, it turns out, are the women who work in it. Jez has a positively millennial attitude to the press – he only reads the bits he likes. There are precisely two such bits he can readily identify: the Times columns of Danny Finkelstein and Matthew Parris.

And, er, that’s it. Pressed for more details – unfair, really, it’s not like he has to oversee the regulation and what should probably be described at this point as the palliative care of your Mole’s industry – Wright claimed to read a “whole variety of columnists”, some of whom are definitely, definitely women.

But who? Asked five times to name some of said women, he spluttered that he quite like the Telegraph’s Allison Pearson and then employed the defence that politicians grope for when they know, but don’t want to admit that they know, that they’ve been done like a kipper, it’s the fairest of cops, guv, you’ve got me, lock me up and throw away the key: “I’m not going to answer pub quiz questions.”

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It’s more of a philosophical problem than it is an answer. The most pressing is at once the easiest and most difficult to answer: has Jeremy Wright ever been to a pub? The answer to that should be, and probably is, yes: Jeremy Wright is 46 years old. Jeremy Wright was born closer to the abdication of King Edward VIII than the present day. He is a British man. He must have been to a pub.

That bit is straightforward enough. But why would Jeremy Wright go to a pub? Why would Jeremy Wright go to a pub voluntarily? Your Mole refuses to believe he would do so to drink a pint, or, for that matter, go to a quiz. Inspecting a dartboard on behalf of a neighbour ahead of a trip to the small claims court, sure. Asking the landlady to turn it down a bit, please, my name is Jeremy and I live two streets away and we’re having a barbecue and I’m sure it’s just the wind but that music really is carrying and I think I heard someone swear and some of the guests are quite elderly, sure. Inspecting the typeface on the urinals, sure. But for fun?

It simply couldn’t happen. There is no better evidence for this than Wright’s warped conception of what a pub quiz is. He appears, as many of his colleagues are, to be labouring under the misapprehension that a pub quiz is a series of questions about things you really ought to know about your job, or, indeed, yourself. God forbid anyone ever asks him what his birthday is.