Thursday, 17 November 2016

Samira Ahmed v Justin Webb

Twitter saw an interesting contretemps this morning between Samira Ahmed and Justin Webb.  

Justin had been interviewing Joel Pollak, senior editor-at-large of Breitbart News, and things had got heated with Mr Pollak accusing Justin of making "inflammatory...libellous and defamatory" statements about Breitbart and Steve Bannon.

By general consent, the Today man came off worst. ("Oh great. Justin Webb just got owned by the guy from Breitbart", tweeted Dan Hodges.)

Here's a (tidied-up) transcription of what followed between the Newswatch host and the Today presenter on Twitter:
Samira Ahmed: Do news organisations understand how to prepare for  giving airtime to the alt-right? Don't think so. Breitbart interview on #R4today 710am. It's as if news organisations have learned nothing from all those years of giving Islamists easy airtime. Eg Anjem Choudary. Not about censorship. About careful research, not acting superior or arrogant. Put them on with challengers not a solo spotlight. Maybe prerec. 
Justin Webb: Not sure I acted superior or arrogant Samira?  How so? 
Samira Ahmed: You seemed unprepared for how he responded.  I admire your calm, Justin, but he was in control of that whole interview. 
Justin Webb: I think you misunderstand interviewing. They reveal. Not about smackdown.  He had every right to say what he did.
Samira Ahmed: We don't disagree on what you're trying to do Justin. But I've had these arguments at C4 news too. Free PR isn't enlightening.
It's notable that Samira places Breitbart and the alt-right on the same level as Islamist radicals - as extremists. Shortly after the above she tweeted this:

Maybe she should interview herself about all of this on Newswatch. The interview would probably go like something like this:
Samira Ahmed: Samira, if I can just read out a complaint from one of our viewers on Twitter
What would you say to that? Ought you to have commented in such a fashion? 
Samira Ahmed: Well, Samira, I have to say - having giving it some consideration - that I think, on balance, that I got it about right. 
Samira Ahmed: Samira Ahmed, thank you for coming into the Newswatch studio to talk to us today.
Samira Ahmed: Thank you for having me.


  1. In this instance it might be more accurate to say that Joel Pollak "got it about right".

    1. Looking at the comments, the BBC may not be speaking for as much of the nation as it has presumed up to now, either

  2. In fairness to Samira here, it's unquestionably the case that Justin Webb was abysmal here.

    To use a Breitbart quote about Anne Applebaum to insinuate antisemitism and then to deny that you're insinuating antisemitism is bad enough, but to have obviously failed to have done any homework on who exactly had written the 'offending' piece - a Jewish author proud of his Polish-Jewish heritage - before making that insinuation was beyond awful.

    And going further beyond awful, Justin just kept on banging on about that quote, never mind how often Joel Pollak told him that the author was Jewish. On and on.

    Justin clearly didn't prepare, other than nabbing a few ready-made, would-be 'hit' points, and he didn't listen either.

    1. But Samira's "equivalence" libel is the point here. She is equating Steve Pollack with Anjem Choudry who has been convicted of facilitating terrorism through his propaganda activities and who has openly said he wants Sharia law to rule in the UK. What has Steve Pollack ever said that equates to that?

      She is despicable for attempting to equate the two men.

      What she meant was "Justin, when you do a hatchet job on the democratic Right make sure you do it well and don't invite on anyone who is going to give you a proper fight."

    2. Yes, you're quite right about that being the main point.

  3. Samir Ahmed's twitter account is weighed down with bias. She's supposed to be an impartial broadcaster for the BBC on Newswatch and Front Row and yet she's peddling her anti-free speech leftist politics.

    This is her latest on Trump - the victor in a democratic election:

    "Trying to find English metaphor for how Trump's presidency feels to his critics. Come up with: Like Rob from The Archers taking over Radio4."

    I find it reprehensible that she's in charge of an arts programme on Radio 4 when she so vociferously opposes free expression.

  4. "interview herself"
    Something more subtle : ABC Australian journalist interviews her own children.
    Surprisingly they HATE Trump who programmed them ?
    "Shunning the usual foreign bureau practice of seeking local opinion on local issues, Australian ABC Washington bureau chief Zoe Daniel instead interviews her own children about Donald Trump’s election."

    Andrew Bolt covers it in Media hysterics About Trump continue