Saturday 8 February 2014

Dieudonné on 'Newsnight'

When Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer was banned from visiting the United Kingdom last year, Newsnight didn't dispatch a reporter to get his side of the story. When French 'comedian' Dieudonné M'bala M'bala was banned from visiting the United Kingdom this week, however, Newsnight swiftly dispatched its very own Steve Smith to interview him and we duly heard his side of the story.

First we heard his lawyers' defence, as extracts from their letter to David Cameron were read out, also making his side of the argument.

Having chosen to give Dieudonné a UK platform (in spite of our Home Secretary's ban on him), how did Newsnight tackle him? Did it expose him? Did it make him sweat? 

Well, Steve Smith gave him what might be described as a low-to-medium-intensity roasting, focusing on anti-Semitism and the 'quenelle'.

I say 'low-to-medium-intensity' because Steve is not a hard-hitting interviewer. He's much better suited to the lighter stuff. 

He certainly tried his best though, but his best wasn't really good enough. 

There he sat, seriously asking his pertinent list of pre-prepared questions, allowing the slippery Dieudonné to run rings round him. 

He didn't press Dieudonné by deploying all the widely-cited evidence of open anti-Semitism in his own act, thus allowing him to disingenuously dissociate himself - and his gesture - from anti-Semitism. 

Dieudonné then side-stepped his tougher questions by using the 'I'm only a comedian' ploy and twice pretended to get the hump at Steve Smith's questioning. At his second 'go' at Steve Smith, Steve gave way and asked Dieudonné to tell him a joke. 

He may have appeared odious to us, but I can see from Twitter that Dieudonné's supporters think he did well on last night's Newsnight and, worse, his disingenuous statements about the 'quenelle' being merely anti-power are being taken by others as being the thing to tweet about. 

Hopefully, that says more about the Twittersphere than about how the broader Newsnight audience might have reacted to the man, but I'm not so sure. The average Newsnight viewer isn't as clued up as we are about Dieudonné's past.

Not a good decision on Newsnight's part.


  1. I seem to have given up on Newsnight but after your ‘recommendation’ I watched the bit with Dieudonne.

    Especially incriminating was his first answer, the significance of which I’m not sure Mr. Smith entirely grasped. “But it’s caused a great deal of offence and people believe it’s an inverted Nazi salute” he says to Dieudonne, of the quenelle.

    Dieudonne forces a laugh.

    “That’s a very funny definition, but it’s just not true. The people who claim it’s a Nazi salute are people who have their own interest. They want to see antisemitism anywhere and every where to justify their own political position. Those who claim that the quenelle is a Nazi salute are crazy.”

    People who claim it’s a Nazi salute? Who may they be, one might ask? People who want to see antisemitism anywhere and everywhere? Hmmm. Who could they be? What, one might wonder is the ‘political position’ that they’re trying to justify?

    So a ton of half-disguised antisemitism slipped through unchallenged. Steve Smith might have thought it was a good idea to let Dieudonne hang himself with his own rope so to speak, but to assume that is to give him the benefit of the doubt. If it was the case I wonder if the Newsnight audience should even have been asked to do his work for him, or if they were really up to it.

    I wonder how Paxo would have approached it. I mean he’s been so lazy recently, not really engaged, but if he or someone with ‘spark’ had been on form, they could have unpacked that answer and torn Dieudonne to pieces.

  2. Post modern takes on comedy mean that the likes of this clot get to call, themselves in Russell Brand(who is many things-but comic he ain`t!).
    Just a flag of convenience to be a scummunard-abusive, nasty but able to say it was "comedy, and ironic".
    Note that the clot didn`t even have one joke to give more than Russell Brand though.
    I pine for the days of Ted Rodgers and Dickie Henerson...neither were in the slightest bit funny, but were really unfunny...and not merely nasty whirribirds like Brand or Godgiven


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