Novelist and ex-Tory MP Jeffrey Archer has said he has started reading the Guardian during the election campaign to try to balance the coverage of Boris Johnson in his beloved Daily Telegraph.
Archer, who served under Margaret Thatcher, said the broadsheet, which is a fervent supporter of Johnson and Brexit, had become “so prejudiced and so unbelievable I have to read the Guardian to try and balance it”.
The sitting peer (pictured) told freelance journalist Rob McGibbon’s inaugural Brief Encounters podcast: “I want a considered opinion on this election and the Telegraph isn’t giving me one.”
Archer said he reads the Times, which is “slightly right of centre, but at least in the middle” as well as the Telegraph and the Guardian for political news in the run-up to next week’s general election.
Describing himself as a one-nation Tory, Archer said he was “disappointed” with the Telegraph’s current political stance.
“I want a paper that tells it to me and leaves me to make the decision,” he said. “I don’t need to be told Boris is wonderful, Corbyn is rubbish. I would like to work it out for myself. I want them to put the facts and report them.”
The Telegraph has faced criticism for its fulsome support of Johnson, who was a paid columnist at the newspaper prior to winning the Tory leadership and becoming Prime Minister in July this year.
The former Mayor of London’s comment pieces frequently made the Telegraph’s front pages and Johnson also used the paper to launch his election campaign last month.
Archer said it was clear the Prime Minister was “feeding [the Telegraph] with more stuff than he’s feeding anyone else and that must be driving the other newspapers mad”.
But, he added: “I hope they will get back on track when the election is over because they’ll have to, we’ll be back in the real world.”
When it came to columnists, Archer said he accepted they were “a different animal” to reporters and he would “hear their prejudiced opinion”.
“Rod Liddle for example has me in fits of laughter every week with the wicked things he says and I would love to know how much of it he really believes and how much he is just teasing me,” he told the podcast.
“Because he is such a beautiful writer, he has got such a command of language. So that sort of thing I accept and laugh at, but I have a left-wing friend who thinks he should be shot. I said: ‘No you don’t have to take him seriously, you just read it for fun.’
“But when I read the front page I want a serious report and then I will make up my own mind, thank you.”
Telegraph editor Chris Evans told the Society of Editors’ Conference last month that Brexit had been “brilliant for business” as the title looks to reach 500,000 paying subscribers by this time next year.
He added: “Thank you Boris, thank you Brexit.”
Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett