Friday 30 June 2017

Another Tale of Two Interviews

Do you recall the days immediately after Jeremy Paxman left Newsnight?

Both the programme's new host Evan Davis and its editor Ian Katz made public statements distancing themselves from the aggressive kind of political interview associated with the not-so-dearly-departed Paxo, arguing instead for a gentler, kinder style of political interviewing. 

Well, that seems to have been well and truly chucked out of the window now - at least as regards interviews with certain kinds of politicians, most noticeably pro-Brexit ones. 

That much-discussed Evan Davis interview with Conservative MP David Jones on Wednesday night's Newsnight, wasn't adversarial in the old Jeremy Paxman way though. It was a different kind of adversarial interview. 

With Jeremy Paxman there was always the sense that it was a game - a serious games that was trying to seek the truth, but a game nonetheless. When he was being rude to his political interviewees it was a species of disinterested rudeness. 

With Evan, however, the aggression and the rudeness appears to be much more rooted in a strong viewpoint. His behaviour seems far from disinterested. 

Evan's apparent agenda during this David Jones interview is laid out by Kathy over at TCW. He was particularly determined to badger his prey into accepting his assertion that the Conservatives' election setback (losing their absolute majority) was down to voters rejecting Theresa May's 'hard Brexit' policy - and he was remarkably insistent on that (especially for an 'impartial' BBC interviewer).

Meanwhile, the following night's Newsnight featured a contrasting, very gentle Evan Davis interview with the strongly pro-EU former BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten. 

Yes, this was a very different kettle of gourmet fish - the kind of interview where this kind of exchange can take place (and note Evan's use of the 'Remainer' term 'hard Brexit'):
Evan Davis: One of the things that we're sometimes told - and I think this is in the end the biggest, the most important question for the country over the next year - is there's really no choice over Brexit. There's a hard Brexit or there's no Brexit, but there's really nothing in between. Do you buy that - that we really either reverse this vote or we go along with the Theresa May version? Because I'm interested in whether you'd vote for the kind of Theresa May Brexit when it comes to the Lords. 
Lord Patten: Well, I think that at the end of the day, as bishops say, there will have to be a vote in Parliament about whatever terms emerge. And at that point, the electorate, given that I suspect by then the economy won't be looking too good, and the electorate will be able to see that you can't have the same relationship with Europe outside the European Union as you have inside it, pace Mr Davis. I think at that point there may be a significant shift in the public atmosphere, the public views on this. But I don't think you can go into these negotiations on the assumption that they'll turn out badly. I think Philip Hammond is right that we should be aiming now for a transitional period, for staying in as much of the single market and the Customs Union as possible. Both of those things were of course anathema to those who thought the big bloody bold thing to do was to head for the precipice and if we jumped off the precipice, there would be Dunlop mattresses at the bottom! 
Evan was at his most obsequious with his body language throughout, and was shown rolling his eyes and nodding along with Chris Pattens's characterisation of Mr (David) Davis's position. Every gesture displayed agreement. (Go to 34.38 on the iPlayer here to get the the full effect).

Newsnight may no longer be watched by many people but it's worth watching for bias. That seems to be spiralling ever more out of control at the moment.

1 comment:

  1. BBC Whirled Surface30 June 2017 at 21:08

    Evan is a frightened bear from Darkest Peru, left abandoned at the station with a ticket attached to him saying "How does a little bear stop Brexit?" Papa Patten offers him the warm comforting glow of delusion.


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