If a BBC interviewer wants to avoid non-trivial accusations of bias then he should probably try to avoid appearing blatantly inconsistent - especially during a general election. If he doesn't avoid appearing blatantly inconsistent then further non-trivial accusations of bias will inevitably follow.
Andrew Marr - who faces plenty of trivial accusations of bias week in and week out on Twitter - is now putting himself at considerable risk of being on the receiving end of lots of non-trivial accusations of bias if he carries on the way he's interviewing at the moment - i.e. very inconsistently.
When David Cameron complained (on today's Andrew Marr Show), "You didn't interrupt your other guests in this way. Let me make this point", it's tempting to think, 'well, he would say that, wouldn't he?'...
...but it's also unquestionably true that Andrew didn't interrupt his other guests in that way. He interrupted them far less often (Mr Cameron being interrupted some 36 times, Nicola Sturgeon 7 times and Vince Cable 6 times, by my reckoning).
Moreover, the range and substance of his questions were far tougher for the Conservative leader than they were for the Liberal Democrat spokesman or the SNP leader:
- Vince Cable was asked about whether he regretted the coalition, about whether he'd prefer Labour to the Conservatives, about what he makes of the Tory plan for "catastrophic" cuts, and whether he'd stand for leader if Nick Clegg lost his Sheffield seat.
- Nicola Sturgeon was mainly asked about possible post-election dealings with Labour and whether she'd rule out another independence referendum. She was also asked to outline her position on more money for the NHS and received just one question on her party's economic policy and the IFS's warning of a £7bn+ black hole. Her answer wasn't challenged.
- David Cameron was asked about why his party won't be able to win a majority, why his party's campaign is stuttering, whether he'd step aside if his party didn't win a majority, whether he'd do a deal with UKIP, about his government's failings over housing, about whether the Tories are a party of the rich, about whether his favourite sport in fox-hunting, about whether welfare cuts are hurting poor and vulnerable people (with two personal cases being raised), on why food banks have massively increased on his watch, on whether foreign nationals are the ones getting the new jobs, on where that £8bn for the NHS is coming from ("I didn't get far with your chancellor"), and on whether the Lloyds shares policy has been announced many times before and is "another Conservative bribe".
So far in this election then, Andrew Marr has given George Osborne (Conservative) a very tough interview, David Cameron (Conservative) a tough interview, Natalie Bennett (Greens) a tough interview, Harriet Harman (Labour) a fairly soft interview, Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) a soft interview, and Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat) a very soft interview.
Next week, Ed Miliband will be the main attraction. It will be very interesting to see what kind of interview he receives. To avoid charges of inconsistency and bias, Andrew Marr will have to go at him very hard indeed, questioning him closely on a wide range of policy issues and pursuing any evasive answers as tenaciously as he pursued George Osborne last week.