Saturday 8 March 2014

'Newsnight': 3-7 March

So what were the stories Newsnight chose to cover last week?

Here's this week's list:

Monday 3/3
1. Ukraine/Russia. Interviews with Senator John McCain (Republican); Pavlo Sheremeta, interim Ukrainian economics minister; Sir Menzies Campbell (Lib Dem) & Alexander Nekrassov, former Yeltsin advisor. 
2. Michael Gove "tells ushe doesn't care how posh his cabinet colleagues are, even if the voters do." Interview with Michael Gove (Con).
3. Benefits Street. Interview with 'White Dee'.
4. Cameron aide arrested over child pornography allegations.

Tuesday 4/3
1. Downing Street's 'suppression' of an immigration report. The government's line now "turns out to be wrong". Interview with Julian Huppert (Lib Dem) & Stephen Barclay (Con)
2. Ukraine/Russia: "Is is starting to feel a bit 'Cold War'?" Interview with Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Con), Nancy Soderberg, former US ambassador to the UN & Dmitry Linnik of Voice of Russia.
3. A Russian Today reporter criticises Russia's actions in Ukraine live on air.
4. Vladimir Putin: Interview with journalist and author Anne Applebaum & Prof Timothy Snyder of Yale University.
5. Downing Street "faces serious questions" over its handling of Patrick Rock, senior Cameron aide arrested over child pornography concerns.
6. E-cigarettes: Are they a good or bad thing? Interview with Prof Martin McKee (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) & Matt Ridley, Times columnist and Conservative peer.

Wednesday 5/3
1. BBC Three going off air: "Will it be missed from our televisions? What happens to home-grown comedy now?" Interview with Tessa Jowell (Labour), comedy producer Ash Atalla & David Elstein, former chief executive of Channel 5.
2. Downing Street's 'suppression' of an immigration report.
3. Police top-and search reforms: Why are they talking so long? Is it because of 'regressive attitudes' at Number 10? Interview with Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner, Metropolitan Police.
4. What did the Bank of England know about market manipulation in the City? Interview with Dr Pippa Malmgren, founder of the DPRM Group.
5. Internet giants (like Facebook and Google) aim to connect the world by using drones. 

Thursday 6/3
1. Stephen Lawrence and police corruption: "What are the limits of undercover policing in Britain?". Interviews with Mark Daly, BBC Scotland Investigations correspondent; Damian Green, Minister for Policing (Conservative); Neville Lawrence (father of Stephen Lawrence); Peter Kirkham former Met DCI; Janet Hills, Chair, Metropolitan Black Police Association; Merrick Badger, environmental campaigner.
2. Should the EU be tougher with Russia?
3. The government's 'suppressed' report on immigration. Interview with Vince Cable, Business Secretary (Lib Dem).
[Intended interview with a journalist about Bitcoin, the virtual currency, dropped.]

Friday 7/3
1. Stephen Lawrence and police corruption: "Is this a new low for the force?" Interview with Lord Paddock (Lib Dem), former Deputy Assistant Commissioner. 
2. The state of the Lib Dems. Interview with Tam Farron (Lib Dem).
3. Japanese porn for women. 
4. Ukraine & the Sochi Oympics. Interview with Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska, who pulled out of the Olympics.
[Intended interview with a journalist about Bitcoin, the virtual currency, again dropped.]

Analysis (of sorts)

So what to make of this list?

Well, there were lots of 'trouble for Downing Street' stories this week, weren't there?

Including, of course, that now-notorious immigration report (which rumbled on over three days).

There was also (inevitably) a good deal about Ukraine (and Russia).

The discussion about Vladimir Putin between Timothy Snyder and Anne Applebaum was a discussion between two strong critics of Putin, and it raised (for me) an interesting question: Is it right to mention who a well-known journalist is married to if it could be germane to the debate?Anne Applebaum is married to the Polish foreign minister, Radosław Sikorski, and he has been at the forefront of the news at the moment pushing for a stronger line against Russia. At no time on Newsnight was Anne Applebaum's relationship to this man at (or very close to) the centre of the story she was discussing. Should it have been? Or is it irrelevant?

The other running theme throughout the week was the police, whether it be the unpopularity of the people with black people due to 'stop and sea rch', or the unpopularity of the people with black people due to Stephen Lawrence, or with police corruption more generally.

Stories about alleged police malfeasance are cropping up quite often on Newsnight at the moment...

...almost as much as features attacking Benefits Street!

Who would have expected Newsnight to give over a full two-thirds of Thursday night's show to Stephen Lawrence? Well, probably anyone who knows the BBC, that's who!

Talking of obsessions, Newsnight's evident obsession with technology (in contrast to science) continues unabated, with more Facebooky wook stuff this week (and there would have been more if that Bitcoin interview had come about).

Plus more of that female-friendly stuff Ian Katz seems to be pushing, this time a feature of Japanese porn for women.

These answer one of Charles Moore's now legendary questions for assessing bias, 'What's the story?'. His parallel question was, 'Who's in the dock?'

Well, just who did Newsnight put in the dock this week? The government, Putin, the police, Michael Gove, Cameron, Putin, the government, the police, the Lib Dems and the Bank of England & city traders, Putin...and, of course, Benefits Street. 

Most of those are popular targets for the Left. So does that suggest left-wing bias on Newsnight's part to you? 

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