In April 2013, the Daily Telegraph's star columnist, Allison Pearson, wrote a characteristically blistering column attacking the producers of the reality show The Voice for failing to select her daughter at the auditions. Under the headline "Why You Won't Hear My Daughter on The Voice", Pearson denounced the decision as evidence of bias against children with a "happy middle-class childhood".
This week — more than six years later — the Telegraph deleted that piece from the internet following a request by Pearson. Her reason, according to a source briefed on the matter: Her daughter is trying again to get on the show, and the columnist didn't want it coming up in Google searches ahead of the audition.
The source told BuzzFeed News that it was only after her daughter was in the running to appear on the show that Pearson asked for the column to be scrubbed. She expressed concern to Telegraph management that it was still appearing in searches, the source said.
Despite its disappearance from the Telegraph's website, the 2013 column can still be accessed via the caching website Wayback Machine.
Pearson, whose pro-Brexit and pro–Boris Johnson cheerleading columns are regularly featured on the front page of the British newspaper, devoted the entire 1,000 words to complaining about the BBC programme.
"There was one reason, and one reason alone, why we allowed the Daughter to audition for The Voice," Pearson wrote. "Oh, apart from the fact that the kid makes Tina Turner sound shy and subdued.
"The BBC had promised that its singing competition would be the antithesis of Simon Cowell’s manipulative sobfests, which have lately come to resemble one of the more hysterical Nuremberg rallies."
Pearson said the show had the potential to be a different type of reality-signing contest, where those from a "happy middle-class childhood might actually be welcomed".
"For the Daughter, who has joked that the only way she could ever get onto The X Factor is by pretending she is a teenage mum and her little brother is her son (‘I ’ad ’im when I wuz eight, dinnae?’), this was hopeful news.
"The Voice sounded like that rare thing: a talent show on to which talented kids with the crippling burden of a happy middle-class childhood might actually be welcomed."
Pearson went into detail about attending the auditions at the Wembley Hilton, including her daughter singing in front of "her heroine Jessie J", before complaining that the show revealed itself to be "a con" when her daughter wasn't chosen.
"Most people were amazed that The Voice hadn’t snatched the Daughter up," she wrote. "[Her voice coach] was delighted. Here was conclusive proof of the idiocy of reality TV.
"'Any song contest that doesn’t choose you, darling, has the wrong criteria,' he told her."
The piece ended with the columnist recounting the experience of watching the first episode of the show: "The announcer said this was a competition based purely on musical talent. Yeah, right. The first singer who came on was clinically obese.
"Another, a girl with a wonderfully sweet sound, was partially sighted. Then came a Goth girl who could barely hold a tune. ‘I can’t work out if she’s any good or not,’ mouthed Jessie J to the other judges. She wasn’t. How on earth had that girl made it through to the live show?"
While the Telegraph has removed all traces of the article from its site, at the time of this story's publication, neither the publication nor Pearson had deleted their tweets from 2013 promoting the piece.
Pearson declined to comment on the record about getting her newspaper to delete the column.
BuzzFeed News has approached the Daily Telegraph for comment, including asking whether it had deleted any other articles at the request of its writers.
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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