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Paper Monitor

11:09 UK time, Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Flogging a dead horse might put off the UK's famously animal-loving newspaper readership. But how about milking a cloned cow?

We may not yet be in silly season - despite the August dateline, news desks can busy themselves with devastating flooding in Pakistan, the diplomatic row between that country's leadership and 10 Downing Street, plus the environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. Thus, we have not as yet been treated to this year's Victor Meldrew Found In Space.

Nonetheless, Parliament is in recess and most public relations practitioners have decamped from Soho to the beach. In such circumstances, putting out a newspaper becomes more difficult, and any reporter with a halfway decent story can expect to be instructed to "see if you can take it on" the following day.

Monday's papers were full of the New York Times's bizarre scoop about a cloned cow somewhere in the UK apparently producing milk for unwitting supermarket consumers. Having failed to positively identify said bovine, British science correspondents have a tricky task in getting another morning's worth of copy out of the tale.

Of course, they rise to the occasion. "More than 100 cows descended from cloned cattle have been born on British farms," splashes the Daily Mail. Campaigners are warning that cloned cow meat will "inevitably" end up on British tables, asserts the Daily Telegraph. The Sun's features desk gets geneticist Robin Lovell-Badge to explain why he would happily knock back a glass of cloned cow's milk himself.

A valiant effort, given that no-one has yet actually held up the calf in question for our examination. If ever were a silk purse fashioned from a sow's ear - or, indeed, a cow's udder - it were today.

Nonetheless, an Eeyore-like groan of ennui emanates from the keyboard of the Mail's Richard Littlejohn. He wanted at least a month off writing about politicians, but ex-home secretary Jacqui Smith's application for a part-time post at the BBC Trust has compelled him to break his self-imposed embargo.

Is there really so little else to write about? Perhaps this year's Victor will soon be gazing down from the heavens. As Oscar Wilde would surely observe were he brought back from the dead and employed as Paper Monitor's holiday cover - we all may lie in the gutter, but some of us look in the stars.

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