Here's a transcription of part of last night's Newsnight.
As well as (hopefully) being interesting in itself (if you like that kind of thing), I think it shows Emily Maitlis tripping herself up, with help from a Polish politician, over the issue of BBC impartiality.
The central exchange went as follows:
Emily Maitlis: When you talk about clarification, the European Commission have said your reforms mean the judiciary is now under political control of your ruling party. They can't tolerate that.Krzysztof Szczerski: That was not the aim of the reforms, to make it politicised. It was just to make it more efficient. The majority of the Polish society surely agrees that the Polish judiciary is not working well...Emily Maitlis: (interrupting) But to bring it under political control, that sends out a real warning now that you don't value its independence.Krzysztof Szczerski: You're presenting one of the opinions, I'm presenting the other one. I am saying this is not the way the reforms should be regarded, and that was not the aim of the reforms, it was just to make it efficient.Emily Maitlis: But you know it is not me presenting this argument. It's the EU, and it is MEPs voting in favour of invoking Article Seven, which would actually take away Poland's voting rights. That is how serious this has become now.
Earlier, however, Emily's pre-interview introduction and report had put aside all such 'degrees of separation' and given the Newsnight view straight...
...which turned out to be identical to that of the EU:
But today, the EU finds itself being tested by the creeping authoritarianism of its member states. Hungarian PM Viktor Orban is back in power with a resounding victory after campaigning on an anti-immigration platform. He too has moved to shut down his opposition. Poland's ruling party is attempting to muddy the independence of its judiciary and silence its free press.
Yes, there's no 'the EU says' or 'the European Commission feels' there only undisguised views expressed on behalf of the BBC by a leading BBC presenter.
And yes, Emily, we know it is you presenting this argument.
Emily Maitlis: Whatever we think about the European Union in this country, for much of Eastern Europe it's a club many are still desperate to join. Albania and Macedonia are the latest applying for membership. They know it will be dependent on meeting criteria and conditions - democracy, rule of law, an independent judiciary and a free press, at the very least. But what happens when those who've already earned their membership start to move toward a creeping authoritarianism, erosion of the very standards the EU seeks to promote? When Poland and Hungary joined the EU 14 long years ago, it promised to be more than just a summer of love. After years of knocking on the door, the moment had come. These formerly Eastern Bloc countries would seal their liberal credentials, joining the most powerful club in Europe. For a decade or so, the promises broadly held. But today, the EU finds itself being tested by the creeping authoritarianism of its member states. Hungarian PM Viktor Orban is back in power with a resounding victory after campaigning on an anti-immigration platform. He too has moved to shut down his opposition. Poland's ruling party is attempting to muddy the independence of its judiciary and silence its free press.
Karolina Wigura, Editor, Kultura Liberalna: The Law and Justice Party have promised to the people that they would build a better state, that they would reform the state. But instead of that they have been building, for the past three years, something like an alternative state and they are clearly running out of resources.
Guy Verhofstadt: (speaking at the EU parliament) Copying Mr Orban is I think not in the interests of Poland and the Polish society and the Polish citizens. Why you are leaving? No, because I have to say something to you.
Emily Maitlis: So, how should the EU respond? Leaders know that punitive measures risk pushing the two countries away. But ignoring their behaviour contravenes everything that the union represents. Its strongest card is to suspend Poland's voting rights in EU summits but it needs Hungary to see that through and as an ally of Poland, Hungary has already promised to veto. After his landslide, Viktor Orban was emboldened to take his message to the EU, telling it to give up its "delusional nightmares" of a the United States of Europe and to change its thinking on migration. So far, the EU's disciplinary measures have fallen on deaf ears. It may now choose to withhold funding from member states which don't keep to the rules. In Poland, EU money makes up 61% of infrastructure spending and 55% in Hungary. Would this curb the two countries? And set an example to potential future member states? Or could it cement the East-West rift rocking the very foundations on which the EU was built? This afternoon I sat down with Krzysztof Szczerski, the President of Poland's chief of staff. I started by asking him if, after 14 years in the European Union, is it still a club that Poland wants to be a part of?
Krzysztof Szczerski: Yes, of course. Poland knows the benefits of unity of Europe. When Europe was divided, we were the victims of the division of Europe. A united Europe is good for us.
Emily Maitlis: And yet you know that the EU feels that you are no longer playing by its rules, that the independence of the judiciary is being eroded now, that the press and the media are no longer free?
Krzysztof Szczerski: We are in a dialogue with all those assumptions. It is not based on the facts as we believe, but on the assumptions that we want to clarify and, if it is needed, we are ready to make changes to Polish internal law like the judiciary. So it's down the way. We're in a dialogue with the Commission. It should end up before we start a discussion on the future of Europe and the future of a financial perspective for Europe, because this is what is real.
Emily Maitlis: When you talk about clarification, the European Commission have said your reforms mean the judiciary is now under political control of your ruling party. They can't tolerate that.
Krzysztof Szczerski: That was not the aim of the reforms, to make it politicised. It was just to make it more efficient. The majority of the Polish society surely agrees that the Polish judiciary is not working well...
Emily Maitlis: (interrupting) But to bring it under political control, that sends out a real warning now that you don't value its independence.
Krzysztof Szczerski: You're presenting one of the opinions, I'm presenting the other one. I am saying this is not the way the reforms should be regarded, and that was not the aim of the reforms, it was just to make it efficient.
Emily Maitlis: But you know it is not me presenting this argument. It's the EU, and it is MEPs voting in favour of invoking Article Seven, which would actually take away Poland's voting rights. That is how serious this has become now.
Krzysztof Szczerski: I do hope that this vote will never happen. That is why we are working with the Commission so it will end up before it gets to the Council for voting. This is the sentiment among the capitals of Europe also. The states of Europe really do not want this vote to happen.
Emily Maitlis: Poland is the biggest beneficiary in terms of EU funding. At the moment, the EU is threatening to cut that now. Either you follow their rules, or you get your funding cut, so which will it be?
Krzysztof Szczerski: Poland is, as you said, the biggest beneficiary of the EU funds and we have no complaints...
Emily Maitlis: (interrupting) So you don't worry that you are going to get your funding cut?
Krzysztof Szczerski: The only thing we're worried about is this clause, this condition, is too generous. We want it to be specified and we want it to be really addressed to the financial management and the corruption of legal systems in the beneficiant member states, because this is also in our interest.
Emily Maitlis: You know the concern of the EU is that Poland and Hungary are moving towards a creeping authoritarianism now, which is out of step with what the EU believes in. What would you say to our viewers about that?
Krzysztof Szczerski: Keep calm. And nothing like this happens in Poland. In Poland, the voters decided and gave the mandate and the legitimacy for the current government to rule over the country, and on the specific political platform that was introduced in the campaign. And this political platform is now realised, so it is exactly what should happen in a democracy.
Emily Maitlis: And if the EU doesn't like what it sees in Poland, what is your message to the EU then?
Krzysztof Szczerski: You should like what you have, because Poland is the important member state of the European Union. Poland is a devoted European state, a very pro-European society, 80% of the Poles support the European Union. So this is actually the reservoir of energy for Europe. We are part of the family and of course, you can this way or another, exchange opinions about your members of the family, but we are a family and you have to love your family.
Emily Maitlis: But what is the point of being part of this club whose values of freedoms and liberties you don't entirely share?
Krzysztof Szczerski: We believe in the four freedoms of Europe, also the free movement of goods, people, services and money. So we believe this should be kept. Everyone is welcome to Poland to come, look and see that this is the country of the happy people living as they want to live, and making the political choices as they want to make political choices.
Emily Maitlis: What will you do to work with Britain now in its Brexit arrangements?
Krzysztof Szczerski: We want to keep the ties with Britain. Of course, this needs negotiations. This needs practical arrangements. The devil is in the detail as always. It is a long way ahead of us, but Britain can... should believe in Poland as their ally. The important thing is that Britain is still part of the West. It still has its assets in Europe. Europe has its assets in Britain, especially in the sphere of defence and security.
Emily Maitlis: And you have brought me finally, on that note, to relations with Russia now. There is a lot of fear among EU member states of Russia and its actions. Where does Poland stand?
Krzysztof Szczerski: We are the first, as the border country, we are the first exposed to the offensive capacities being built by Russia and we have to respond to that by balancing his offensive capacity is by our defensive capacities so we can feel secure.
Emily Maitlis: Thank you very much.