Friday 4 July 2014

'Newsnight' - 30 June-4 July

It's been quite a week news-wise: the murders in Israel, the jailing of Rolf Harris and Andy Coulson, the rebirth of the Caliphate and the extraordinary story about Leon Brittan and the missing sex abuse dossier....

...(and, golly gosh, cor blimey guv, hasn't the world of social media been absolutely abuzz about that last story this week? Can it really be true what they're saying? It's scarcely believable (but, then again, so was Rolf Harris). Some newspapers, especially the Daily Mail, are giving all manner of collaborative hints that some of it is true. If it is, the most shocking is yet to come.)

Newsnight covered all of these stories this week but, in keeping with Ian Katz's frothy tendencies (which I don't mind one bit), there were many lighter items too: The art of conversation, Caitlin Moran, Monty Python, the Tour de France, etc. 

Anyone wanting to bash Newsnight as a Guardianista left-liberal w***fest (as Laura Kuenssberg might put it), may wish to check out Tuesday's edition: Caitlin Moran, Mehdi Hasan, Marcus Brigstocke!

Well, here's what they covered, how they framed it and who they interviewed:

Monday 30/6
1. The murder of the Israeli teens: "The three kidnapped Israeli teenagers are found dead in a pit on the West Bank. Hamas is getting the blame and, if history is a guide, the Israeli response will be emotional. But could it also be disproportionate? We hear from the Israeli and Palestinians."  Interview with Daniel Taub, Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom & Mustafa Bargouti, leader, Palestinian National Initiative Party.
2. Rolf Harris: "Another well-loved children's entertainer turns out to be a predatory hypocrite. Rolf Harris is found guilty of sexually assaulting children. We ask: Would we notice the same crimes today?". Interviewer with Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions 2008-13 & John Cameron, Head of Child Protection, NSPCC.
3. Interview with Al Qaeda double agent: "The first UK TV interview with the Western intelligence agent who says he infiltrated al-Qaeda." 
Morten Storm: "If I made a mistake or talked in my sleep or anything before those people I would have been exposed and I would have ended up being crucified"
Report featuring interview with Morten Storm.
4. Len McCluskey: "The size of your backer's cheque book matters a lot in politics and with less than a years to the general election the parties need to be sure they've got a supply of readies. Despite tensions in their relationship, as of today Labour can be confident of significant financial support from Unite, the union, who announced its plans to help pay Labour's way today. But are they really convinced Ed Miliband is getting everything right? Not quite." Interview with Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite.
5. The lost art of conversation"When did you last have a proper conversation? Yes, I'm talking to you with your 'What's app?' open on your phone and  your Tweetdeck up on your tablet. Researchers say new technology like that is killing the art of civilised discourse. Perish the thought! It seems many of us prefer to edit our thoughts in a text rather than engage in the unpredictable to-and-fro of a face-to-face discussion, but enthusiasts for this endangered activity are hitting back with etiquette classes and sessions of in-depth conversations between strangers".

Tuesday 1/7
1. Why are we building fewer houses?"The dream of home ownership: The plan was going so well. Or was it? Tonight Newsnight reveals the official government documents that show house-building is set to fall. How will today's voters react to the news that when it comes to housing, they've never had it so bad? Might they blame the government?" Interview with Lord Adonis (Labour). 
2. Ed Miliband's image: Interview with Lord Adonis (Labour), Rachel Sylvester, The Times & Mehdi Hasan, biographer of Ed Miliband.
3. The murder of the Israeli teens: "Israel buries the three Israeli teenagers they say were killed by Hamas. What retaliation will follow this? Mark Urban is in Jerusalem."
Mark Urban: "Israel's security cabinet is still in session and trying to decide how much of a response will satisfy its public".
Interview with Ari Shavit, author, 'My Promised Land: the triumph and tragedy of Israel'
4. Caitlin Moran's new novel: "Caitlin Moran's new novel, 'How to Build a Girl'. She's here to talk about sex, sexism and getting a sociopolitical 'freak-on'(??)" Interview with Caitlin Moran, author.
5. Is Monty Python still funny?: "Is Monty Python still funny? We send our comedy experts to the opening night of their sellout reunion".
Marcus Brigstocke: "Well, Ash and I are about to go and see Monty Python who are mostly still alive, and we're tremendously excited." 
Ash Atalla: "And let's hope we make it back to the studio in time. If not it will just be an empty wheelchair and some blue suede shoes".
Interview with Ash Atalla, TV producer & Marcus Brigstocke, "comedian".
    [Closing credits: Images of Esther Honig, a journalist who asked photo shops to "Make me look beautiful"]

Wednesday 2/7
1. What happened to a 1980s Home Office dossier on alleged child sex abuse?: "A dossier detailing alleged sex abuse involving prominent public figures thirty year ago is missing from Home Office files. The Home Secretary at the time, Leon Brittan, admitted he received it but says he passed in on to officials. Is it finally time for a parliamentary inquiry into historic child abuse?" Interview with Tim Laughton MP (Conservative), Children's Minister 2010-12 & Meg Munn MP (Labour).
2. The murder of a Palestinian teen: "Violence flares in Jerusalem after the body of a Palestinian teenager is found today. Was it a reprisal for the murder of three teenage Israelis?"
Mark Urban: "It raises the spectre of further tit-for-tat sectarian murder over the heads of leaders' appeals for restraint."
3. Labour and business: "Wooing big business: On the eve of a charm offensive by Ed Miliband, is Labour an attractive proposition?"  
Laura Kuenssberg: "Does business trust Labour?"
Businessman: "Errrrrr....Pass!"
"I'll be speaking to the Shadow Chancellor". Interview with Ed Balls MP (Labour).
4. Iraq: "The Iraqi Nouri al-Maliki has offered an amnesty to militants willing to return to their senses and abandon the ISIS-led insurgency which is threatening to tear the country apart. The insurgents now hold vast swathes of territory spanning the Iraqi-Syrian border, and fighter jets, thought to be Iranian, landed in Baghdad today as the Iraqi military struggles to fight back." [Gabriel Gatehouse talks to Shia militias in Baghdad]. 
5. The mystery of the bodies being washed up on the Isle of Wight: "Bodies on the beaches of the Isle of Wight: Could burials at sea to be blame?"
    [Closing credits: A Japanese politician apologises - for hours]

Thursday 3/7
1. British plans over Syria: "A secret British plan to intervene in Syria. Newsnight can reveal how the British military planned to train and to arm 100,000 rebels. We ask the Foreign Office minister at the time if the West missed a chance to defeat Assad?" Interview with Alistair Burt MP (Conservative), Foreign Office Minister 2010-13 & Rime Allaf, advisor to President of Syrian Coalition.
2. Iraq: "A former jihadi tells us about cells of insurgents already in Baghdad waiting to take the city."
Gabriel Gatehouse: "I've been speaking to a man who knew Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the secretive leader of ISIS, for an insight into how the group operates."
Report featuring interview with Hisham al-Hashimi, Iraqi government advisor on ISIS.
3. HS2: "The man in charge of HS2 tells us why he and his executes should be paid more than the Prime Minister." Interview with Sir David Higgins, Chair, HS2. 
4. GlaxoSmithKline: "Even the biggest companies in the world don't have the power to protect themselves from scandal - not least when they're accused by one of the biggest governments in the world of breaking the rules. GlaxoSmithKline, the British drugs firm, has found themselves in rather a lot of trouble after allegations of bribery were laid at the door of its Chinese operation. The BBC's China Editor, Carrie Gracie, has uncovered some of the trail of emails that has put GSK under such pressure."
5. Tour de France: "Up hill and down dale: Steve Smith's been to Yorkshire for Tour de France fever, starting with the very basics." Interview with Daniel Knowles, Britain Correspondent, The Economist & Jools Walker, 'Lady Velo' blogger.
    [Closing credits: The Watershed's 50th Anniversary, Mary Whitehouse & lots and lots of f***ing uses of the f-word from a f***-mouthed Laura ****sberg]. 

Friday 4/7
1. Pensioner prisoners: "Pensioner prisoners: The number of OAPs behind bars has doubled in ten years. Rolf Harris, sentenced today, fits the trend. Four out of ten of them are sex offenders. Are the jails fit to cope? And does anyone care if they're not?" 
2. Hamas: "As Palestinians gather to bury their murdered teenager, Newsnight speaks exclusively to the Palestinian group Hamas". Interview with Osama Hamdan, Foreign Affairs spokesman, Hamas.
3. New aircraft carrier: "Will our new aircraft carrier save the realm, or is it a truly massive waste of money? Just don't call it 'a boat' or this man will get very cross". Interview with Admiral Lord West (Labour), First Sea Lord 2002-06 & Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance, LSE.
   [Closing credits: A jokey piece about bored people electrocuting themselves during a speech by David Cameron].


  1. The way Emily Maitlis interviewed Osama Hamdam was disgraceful: She treated him as if he was a criminal, when he was explaining that the Palestinians were the victims of an occupation in which they were being killed, injured and dispossessed by the Israelis.

  2. Sorry anonymous.
    This is Hamas...who want Jews exterminated.
    How they even get a platform to peddle their anti-Semite slurry is so BBC.
    I know what Hamas think-and always will do-of Jews being anywhere in the world, let alone in an area that they have long been living in...well before the deceits of Islam came a calling.
    When we see some semblance of justice for the three Israeli lads, then I`ll be more inclined to worry about the murder of the Palestinian things stand, I`ve yet to see any evidence that Jews killed him...and trust the Israeli state to act impartially to bring his killers to justice, as soon as possible.
    I`d far more believe that Hamas did this-or Fatah-than Jewish settlers, the timing seems awful convenient for the jihadists does it not?


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