Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Depth Charge

There was an article by Patrick Wintour in yesterday's Guardian which meandered, as Coleridge put it, with a mazy motion. It started out on Gordon Brown and co-operatives. Then, after a few paragraphs it moved on to the weekend's polls. Then there was a bit about leadership speculation. Then there was a mention of The Mail On Sunday, which claimed at the weekend to have seen a new book by Andrew Rawnsley with all sorts of lurid revelations about the Prime Minister. This is a subject that Patrick Wintour ought to know all about as he and Mr Rawnsley have consumed an awful lot of lunch together. So the most important paragraph of Wintour's article was actually the last.

The Mail on Sunday has not seen the book, not due out for some weeks. It may make uncomfortable reading for Brown, but not for reasons given by the Mail.

This technique of saving the most important or revelatory part of the article for the last sentence is known amongst the ladies and gentlemen of the press as the depth charge. Whether this is because of the delay before a depth charge's explosion, or because the revelation is deep in the article, I do not know.

There's also something rather lovely about the authority of the first sentence setting up the apophatic teasing of the second.

Lobby journalists filing an article

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