Wednesday 20 April 2016

Oh come on!!

Talking of Emily Maitlis...

She was interviewing Michael Ignatieff about the Erdogan/German satirist affair, and put what struck me as 'a very BBC point' to the Canadian liberal:
There is a line though, isn't there, between satire and offence? And when you talk to Turkish journalists and they say, 'Actually, this bordered on Islamophobia', it becomes a slightly different question.
Mr. Ignatieff gave an understandable - and properly liberal - response:
Oh come on!! I think satire isn't satire unless it's offensive.


If you were watching BBC Two a lot in the 1980s and '90s, you'll probably remember Michael Ignatieff. He was something close to being BBC Two's official intellectual, wandering around various places wearing a deeply thoughtful expression. (This was in the days before Will Self came to favour at the BBC). I always liked him. (Can't quite say the same for Will Self). 

How many conservative intellectuals, however, would receive this kind of introduction on Newsnight?:
Well, earlier I spoke to the great public intellectual Michael Ignatieff, former leader of Canada's Liberal Party, now Professor of Politics and the Press at Harvard. 


  1. As the song say "little things mean a lot" - and how people are introduced is one of those little things. For instance "far right" is often used even when people aren't really that far right (just asserting things that were held to be common sense 50 years ago). But how often do you hear "far left" used? Almost never about an individual. Conservative intellectuals, however great tend to get introduced by the BBC as "controversial" or if they are being kind "independtly minded". Another example - a situation where women are doing better than men is described as "encouraging" or "good news" but vice versa will be a "worrying inequality".

    I guess all these things amount to a kind of musical accompaniment to news and current affairs...all the grimacing and unkind adjectives reserved for Trump reports are the equivalent of "evil sound" music in a thriller when the baddy comes on screen. It's meant to do the job at an emotive level when they can't say something directly e.g. "I'm a lefty and I hate Donald Trump!" or want to reinforce a point by giving it an emotional underpinning e.g. "Migration is good you heartless individual! - or do you want to see women and children drown?!

  2. Canada has its own problems with free speech and censorship these days. I wonder if Maitlis and Katz are even a little ashamed to ask if being offensive is enough to silence speech. They'd have to cancel every single BBC comedy panel show tomorrow.


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