Nigel Farage once famously said to Herman Van Rompuy:
I don't want to be rude but, really, you have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk and the question I want to ask is: 'Who are you? I'd never heard of you. Nobody in Europe had ever heard of you'.
I think it's fair to say that Today (15/9) didn't introduce the former EU Council President in quite the same cheeky British spirit when Matthew Price interviewed him and garnered his view that Brexit's a terrible, terrible mistake. Quite the reverse in fact, with Today instead extending their collective tongue for him to use as a red carpet.
I could quote Justin Webb's introduction to that Today interview where ol' Justin bouncily slurped:
For five years, Herman von Rompuy was the President of the European Council - the body that brings together the national leaders of all the European nations. He was at the very heart of European wrangling. He knows the politicians, their styles, their aims. And now he's telling us what might happen when those politicians turn to Brexit...
...but I won't do any such thing. Instead, I'll quote good old Matthew Price:
Matthew Price: Morning Justin! "An historical mistake". That is what Herman von Rompuy thinks of Brexit. "I warned David Cameron it would be a mistake to hold a referendum. We all warned him", he told me. Herman von Rompuy ended his time as President of the Council in 2014...late 2014. He's a committed European. He believes in the project. He understands its weaknesses, its vulnerabilities. He also understands the damage that Brexit could do to the European Union. So I started by asking him what he thinks Brexit means.Herman von Rompuy: Brexit means Brexit.Matthew Price (sniggering): That's exactly what Theresa May keeps saying, and nobody knows what it means!Herman von Rompuy: I know!
Slurp, slurp, slurp, Matthew! Get off your knees man! You're British!! Maybe Herman actually doesn't understand much at all.
And Matthew continued in the same vein throughout his interview with the Mighty Herman. Every question was a soft question, and then came the likes of this:
Britain, in the popular imagination at least, doesn't have a good reputation in Brussels. I wonder if there's an example that springs to mind for your of a moment when Britain was pivotal in a really positive movement here in Brussels?
Herman gave no such example but just slagged us off for not having behaved like proper EU members for ages and, thus, being disliked by everyone else as a result (apparently!). And instead of challenging that biased characterisation of the UK, Matthew simply asked (slurp, slurp!):
The follow-on of your answer is that Britain won't actually be missed quite as much as perhaps Britain likes to think it will be.
Yeah. But we consider the Brexit as a political amputation of the first degree.
He then praised the model of Europe as 'peace-bringer' and Matthew joined him, via another soft question, in worrying about its post-Brexit future.
I'm still at a loss to work out quite why Today thought such soft, Brexit-bashing interviewing of Mr Van Rompuy was appropriate...
...unless, of course (light bulb going on!), the BBC is biased on the issue.