Magazine accused of betraying his trust...
Scott Colothan

11:02 28th November 2007

Morrissey is at the centre of a controversial race row with the NME, after the music magazine accused The Smiths legend of using “naïve and inflammatory” language when discussing immigration in the UK.

The singer’s management yesterday threatened the publication with legal proceedings over their editorial in the potentially damning article, printed today.

Morrissey’s representatives got wind of the possible damaging nature of the feature in an anonymous tip-off in October on the site Morrissey-solo.com. In response, NME editor Conor McNicholas reportedly said on October 29 they were “rumours and untruths” and that Morrissey’s words were “benign when argued in isolation.”  

He is now accused of turning back on these comments and “betraying the trust” of Morrissey and his management.

Interestingly, the NME journalist who carried out the interview, Tim Jonze, has personally written to Mozza’s representative Merck Mercuriadis denying that the comments and editorial has anything to do with him. In a rare move, the credits for the piece read: Interview: Tim Jonze / Words: NME.

According to true-to-you.net, Jonze, who also writes for The Guardian, said: “I should mention that for reasons I'll probably never understand, NME have rewritten the Moz piece. I had a read and virtually none of it is my words or beliefs so I've asked for my name to be taken off it. Just so you know when you read it.”

Merck has revealed that upon receiving this, he immediately wrote to NME Editor Conor McNicholas, who after three days (“timed to arrive after his magazine was printed therefore preventing us from stopping the printing” – claims Merck) replied.

In response, McNicholas claims that the comments in the piece are “fair and balanced”, and writes: “Obviously no-one is accusing Morrissey of racism - that would be mad given what Morrissey says - but we do say that the language Morrissey uses is very unhelpful at a time of great tensions.”

The NME does, however, compare Morrissey's views to that of the BNP.

In the feature, Morrissey (who now lives in Italy having relocated from the US) commented on immigration in such sentences as “Other countries have held on to their basic identity, yet it seems to me that England has thrown it away.”

He also said: “Britain’s a terribly negative place… with the issue of immigration, it’s very difficult because, although I don’t have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the identity disappears.” 

In response to McNicholas’ comments, a clearly irate Mercuriadis wrote on true-to-you, claiming the magazine has “betrayed his trust.” A solicitors’ letter followed. 

He wrote: 

When / if you read the interview, please look at the credits which are unique:
Interview - Tim Jonze
Words - NME

When reading it we request that you think for yourself and consider what is question and answer and what is inflammatory editorial on the part of the NME which we assume can only be intended to create controversy to boost their circulation at the expense of Morrissey's integrity and for which no journalist is willing to be credited. It might as well say "anonymous."

There is virtually no other artist with a more meaningful following across the history of the NME and it would appear that Mr. McNicholas thought the "new" NME could gain some credibility at Morrissey's expense. The story reads like a cynical exercise by yet another NME editor trying to put his name in the history books via a poorly thought out and terribly executed attempt at character assassination.

As we all know, the NME does not speak for its readership, the artists do. Artists like Morrissey. The NME also does not speak for Morrissey. Anti-racist songs such as "Irish Blood, English Heart," "America Is Not The World" and "I Will See You In Far-Off Places" tell you the true measure of the man.

Conor McNicholas made a decision for reasons known only to himself to betray our trust and make himself out to be a hero at Morrissey's expense. 

As you can see from the legal letter below, we will be unrelenting in our quest to bring him / NME to justice.

By the way, the good news of the day is that Morrissey signed his new record deal with Polydor / Decca this afternoon! We will soon be scheduling new singles and albums for next year, but one thing you can count on not happening is a 7" cover mount on the eNeMEy! 

Sincerely,
Merck Mercuriadis
28th November, 2007

We await the next development of proceedings with baited breath.

It’s not the first time the publication has fallen out with Morrissey. In 1992, a damning article hit out at Morrissey for draping himself in a Union Jack at a Finsbury Park gig under the title: ‘Flying The Flag Or Flirting With Disaster?’

The publication famously accused Morrissey of experimenting with racist imagery, in the context of the National Front supporters who were present in the crowd at the Madness headlined show.

This led to a huge falling out between the two, only for the hatchet to be buried three years ago. It looks as though the latest article has now ruined their relationship eternally.


Photo: Wenn