Thursday, 2 April 2015

Bringing stories to audiences around the world

Mishal Husain gave Nigel Farage the Israel treatment this morning.
Let me remind you of her line of questioning with Gil Hoffman in 2012.

“How many Israelis have been killed by these rockets this year?”

“No no, the numbers do matter. How many Israelis have died this year?

Why does it not matter?

“How many Israelis were killed. No, but how many were actually killed by these rockets?

“Do you know?

“Oh well, you’re either unable or unwilling to give the answer, so let me tell you the Economist says in 2004 - we’re trying to bring this story to our audiences around the world, according to the Economist 20 Israelis were killed by rockets that came from Gaza into Israel, and this year not one Israeli was killed by these rockets until this current confrontation began. (stare) Do you accept those figures?

“You could argue that Hamas was also stopping worse happening all of this period because although there were rockets being fired they weren’t the big rockets that have caused damage in recent days, they were mostly home made contraptions.

“You’d agree that not all of them were fired by Hamas, were they? I mean you know that and I know that Hamas is not the only group that’s operating in Gaza.”

I’ve left out Hoffman’s answers because she ignored them anyway, but even more obnoxious was Husain’s  expressions of disdain, smugness, hubris, self-importance that she kept up throughout this interview. (she might look rather friendly in the above stills, but watch the video to see the full effect)  She made no attempt to conceal the loathing she felt towards her interviewee.

To Mishal Husain Nigel Farage ‘is Israel’. Today at ten past eight.  ( 2:09:27 )
She doesn’t like him and she felt it was a good idea to be super confrontational. I know people like that, people who are inclined to pick up and query every single point you might make, innocuous or no. 

There is merit in that. If you’re making a statement it’s easy to resort to cliches. We can use a cliche as a shortcut to evoke a meaning we assume is a ‘given’. So, for example when Nigel days ‘fings ain’t wot they used to be’, it conveys a whole raft of things, which do  need to be clearly justified. However, in this particular case there was an elephant-sized impediment to clarity. Political correctness. Mishal was trying to corner Nigel into saying something racist. Perhaps ‘children playing in the streets’ was a clumsy way of alluding to ghettoized communities. It was a euphemism of the type forced upon us by the constraints of political correctness.

Nigel Farage is an expert at remaining calm and eloquent under considerable pressure.That’s a large part of his appeal. He was self-possessed enough to stay calm when others might have buckled. Free from the constraints of office and party loyalty he has no need to wriggle, squirm and be evasive - i.e., behave like a politician - so for the most part he generally succeeds in giving straight answers, which is another part of his appeal. Anything that could be interpreted as racist is another matter. Eggshells.

Before the Lib Dems were lumbered with the responsibility of co-government they felt free to promise anything under the sun, deliverable or not. Nick Clegg’s tuition fees calamity was an accident waiting to happen. Achieving power must have taken the Lib Dems by surprise, otherwise, surely they wouldn’t said what they said. 
Who knows if Nigel’s promises will ever be put to the test, but if Mishal Husain has anything to do with it, they won’t.

When it came to the misdemeanours of some of his naughty candidates - the ones who’ve been dumped - he made the very reasonable point that Ukip is not the only party that has attracted some dodgy members, yet Ukip is singled out for the Israel treatment. 

Instead of “how many Israelis killed” we had “Which market towns?” and instead of “Numbers do matter” we have  “What is your cap?” and  “So you do have a cap.”

Mishal is fiercely arguing in favour of unlimited immigration. “define a skilled worker” and  “what is a skilled worker?” 

Instead of “home made contraptions” we had “the type of people you have in the party.”

“We’re trying to bring this story to our audiences around the world,” she said in 2012. The same applies in 2015. “This story” 

You’d have thought Nigel Farage was some sort of terrorist. I wonder what Jeremy Bowen would have done with that interview, or for that matter, what Mishal Husain would have done with Khaled Meshaal. Now that would be something. Can you imagine? 


  1. 'Mishal was trying to corner Nigel into saying something racist'

    Well, that would be the money quote. And the BBC has enough people to demand like a spoilt toddler enough times to get it, eventually, or edit accordingly to get as good as. Hold that last thought.

    'Nigel Farage is an expert at remaining calm and eloquent under considerable pressure'

    Enough pressure applied can see steam vented. And that, to the BBC, is a result too. Especially with willing assistants stage left to offer the necessary degree of separation:

    It was not a matter of if, but when.

    By coincidence, and while the topic of BBC complaints is still fresh in the minds of those on this forum, I have just had a reply from the BBC that shows that when they are wrong, but not bang to rights on pure fact, they can get very snippy indeed. I share now here as it is timely, in complement and relevant, as a certain other new project stumbles to completion:

    Me (earlier last month):

    Complaint Summary: Gross misrepresentation

    Full Complaint: As many in the comments have noted, what Mr. Farage said has been misrepresented. Best summed up by the top rated comments, ironically (in more ways than one)*: Please justify. *With several other unexcused complaints, it is worth noting this is yet another supposedly interactive piece where opportunity to comment opens and closes well within the working hours of the majority of the population. You do know who you are meant to serve?


    Them (today):

    Reference CAS-XXX

    Thank you for getting in touch about our article reporting comments made by Nigel Farage in a Channel 4 documentary (

    Please accept our apologies for the delay in our response.

    Our headline was carefully worded and represents what Nigel Farage said.

    The article did also include at-length quotes from Nigel Farage outlining his point that he had been ‘wilfully misinterpreted’ and had commented in respect of nationality and not race.

    But his actual quotes from the Channel 4 interview with Trevor Phillips were clear and accurately reported in this article.

    Nonetheless, thank you again for contacting us and be assured that we value your feedback on this matter.

    Kind regards



    As this is about perceptions, and I cite those of others, it is worth looking at their article and the comments which are (now) linked to it.

    Start with the latest. 'Carnage' would seem a lame description. Almost the entire final page has been 'removed'. A good start on the interactive transparency commitment.

    Then go to the highest rated.

    Of the top one, 630 people agreed that '.. he didn't actually say what you said he said' The others also show the vast majority of BBC audience engaging did not agree with the BBC version of events.

    Yet... the BBC bare faced goes for 'got it not just... but totally right'. Carefully worded indeed.

    With a 'nonetheless... go fish' sign off.

    And my point on the opening times and duration of this forum was totally ignored. With no hint that this need not be the end of things (it won't).

    I now have to retrace a vast series of redundant steps from the start to get to the point I can tell them this and get it knocked upstairs to someone whose belief sets the BBC thinks is the final arbiter of complaint debate, to say roughly the same.

    No wonder folk blow a fuse.

  2. Mishal's interview with Nigel Farage was by far the most hostile 'Today' election inteview so far, especially in terms of tone.

    For stats fans, it broke down like this, as regards time spent on each subject:

    Immigration - 68.09%
    Why UKIP candidates keep getting into trouble - 23.87%
    UKIP's bad start to the year - 8.04%

    The immigration section can be broken down further:

    18.72% on "What did you mean by saying children couldn't play happily in the streets because of immigration?"

    49.37% on "A cap or a target?", "Define "a skilled worker" and "Won't we get poorer without mass immigration?"

    Mishal Husain said she'd quote "two examples" of problem UKIP candidates at him. She ended up flinging five examples at him.

  3. Jo Coburn did a similar thing to the UKIP lady today. When told that UKIP would go along with allowing 50,000 skilled workers if that what was recommended by the independent authority whose name I forget, Coburn went to the absurd. "If it was 150,000 next year would you accept that?" Just digging for that gotcha moment because she couldn't do any other damage.

  4. She might criticise Farage but she will never criticise Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

    The best she can come up with is that it gets very hot in a Burka.

    Meanwhile no Jew may reside in Arabia, no Church may be built in the Kingdom and in Pakistan Hindus, Christians and other minorities are subject to the grossest persecution.

    Her conscience does stretch as far as those countries she is well acquainted with.

    And notice the comment about her mother - her father allowed her to remain a Catholic. So what? That is allowed under Sharia. What is not allowed is that she as a Muslim woman would marry a non-Muslim.

    1. ...does NOT stretch!