Sunday, 12 June 2016

Reacting to 'Marr'

Do I really have anything intelligent and original to say about this morning's Andrew Marr programme? Probably not. But, as a seasoned blogger, I feel it's my professional duty unto Almighty God to speak my brains regardless. So here I go...

Before the programme even began I'd already spotted Andrew Marr's preview on BBC Breakfast:
Good morning. Well, eleven days to go till the referendum and I've decided to devote the programme almost entirely to the Prime Minister and the leader of the rebel insurgency Nigel Farage. They will be dominating the programme. A lot to ask them of course.
Was that biased? Some people on social media felt it was, though I couldn't work out whether they were classing AM's "leader of the rebel insurgency" bit as being biased towards Nigel Farage or biased against Nigel Farage. (Did they think Andrew was casting the sainted Nigel as a heroic leader of a Star Wars-style rebel alliance against the evil Empire, or as a wicked Taliban-style 'militant' instead?) What way do you read it? Or was it merely a harmless joke? 

The other thing I spotted was a surprising number of people on Twitter said they were placing bets that Nigel Farage would be interrupted much more than David Cameron. (One man said he'd placed a £10 bet that Nige would be interrupted three times more often than Dave). 

One of the things I was looking out for was to see if Andrew Marr mentioned the Sunday Times's rather incendiary headline about the government and the EU allegedly colluding to keep 'hush-hush' the possibility of up to 1.5 million Turks being giving free visa access to the UK until after the EU referendum. Andrew did indeed mention it during his run-through of the newspaper front pages. To the astonishment of many Brexiteers and the reporter at the Sunday Times (Tim Shipman), however, he didn't then follow that up by bringing it up with David Cameron (despite raising the Turkey issue with the PM more generally):

I have to say I found that omission a bit of a head-scratcher myself.

The paper review was unlike any other Marr programme paper review I've ever seen. Andrew Marr seemed stressed and tetchy, and Labour's Dame Baroness Helena Kennedy - one of Andy's most regular sofa guests - got surprisingly tetchy with him after he stopped her from talking at length over everyone else ("It's soooo unfair!", she thcreamed and thcreamed), and he got a bit stroppy with her too. (Trouble in paradise!)

And neither of their unhappy moods was enhanced by the contributions of former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum and Dia Chakravarty of the TaxPayers' Alliance. Mr. Frum kept going all 'non-committal' when pressed to commit himself on Donald/Hillary or Brexit, while Dia was at all times fully 'committal' - far too 'committal' for Dame Baroness Helena Kennedy (though, to my mind, I found her excellent throughout).

As for the 'big interviews', well, I have to say that I didn't find them particularly imbalanced. 

Using stats, I made it 15 interruptions in just over 14 minutes for Nigel Farage and 28 interruptions in 21 minutes for David Cameron. Using my old 'interruption coefficient' system, that's an IC of 1.1 for Nige and 1.4 for Dave - meaning that Dave was interrupted more frequently than Nige (in proportion to the length of the interview). Not much more, but more nonetheless. 

That said think I Andrew Marr took a sharper, more focused line with the UKIP leader than with the Tory leader, pressing Nigel Farage on the HIV/immigrant issue with particular force. But he also had a few zingers at the PM, such as:
David Cameron: I have given my self-denying ordinance which I gave about ten days ago and it remains for the next thirteen...
Andrew Marr: You sent out Amber Rudd to do it for you! 
People believe that you are overstating the case. And if you look at the audience in that ITV debate, for instance, they were sort of glassy eyed. They weren’t listening to you. And the reason they weren’t listening to you is perhaps because the warnings have been too extreme, too specific - all that stuff about house prices falling by 18% and so forth coming from the Treasury which can’t forecast very much ahead. And people are no longer listening. They simply don’t believe you.
Moving on...

All those legions of militant Corbynistas who absolutely clog the #bbcbias hashtag on Twitter with their endless rage against the BBC for not massively reporting the #toryelectionfraud affair might have been mollified by the fact that Andrew Marr did raise it with the Tory leader today. Admittedly not for long and half-heartedly, but it was raised, as they keep demanding, and Mr Cameron was forced to talk about if (briefly). So there! 

Not that the aforementioned Corbynistas even seemed to notice. They just kept on tweeting and complaining that 'Tory' #Marr hadn't mentioned it at all - as usual. Thus: #bbcbias. Hmm.

Plus Alison Balsom played Bach on the trumpet.

And talking of Alison...

1 comment:

  1. That pretty much matches my impression of the episode. Although I was a bit more caustic in my comparison between Marr's handling of Farage and how he dealt with Cameron. He had different goals there.

    Kennedy and Frum can FRO, as far as I'm concerned. Really appalling behavior from the former, and predictable obfuscating and then lecturing like the establishment tool he his from the latter. All lapped up by Marr.