Saturday 29 July 2017

Talking Trump

For fans of transcripts everywhere, here's the BBC Jon Sopel (£200-249K) talking Trump with Roger Bolton (?) on this week's Feedback:

Roger Bolton: Well, I'm now joined by Jon Sopel from Washington. Jon, what's it like to have the President of United States call you "another beauty"? And he didn't really mean that, did he? He put you in the category with CNN as somebody who's a purveyor of fake news.
Jon Sopel: Well, it was the most extraordinary news conference that I have ever been to, and I suspect that if the walls could speak in the East Room of the White House the walls would concur with that view, that they have never seen anything quite like the news conference that unfolded. And I suppose if I looked at the young Jon Sopel who was starting out his journalistic career he never imagined that he would be sitting in a news conference with a President of the United States let alone answering back. And yet I felt it was absolutely essential that we stood our ground and, in a very polite and British way, to say, 'Actually I think it's very important to note that the BBC is free of government interference, that it is fair and that it is impartial'.
Roger Bolton: But it must be a real problem though if you get that sort of attack-  and others are facing it - not not to respond, and it must make it even more difficult to be absolutely objective about what's happening?
Jon Sopel: Roger, I honestly think that journalism has never been more important than it is today, when there are so many challenges to fact-based reporting, people wanting to believe whatever it is they see on their Facebook feed, and I think that we face a real challenge. However, the one mistake we must not make - absolutely, I believe this passionately  - is that we are not the opposition to Donald Trump. We are there to do what we always do - which is, hopefully, as one of your caller said, hold power to account, because if we don't do that we fail, and if we start becoming oppositionalist - and I think that some of the American networks have in some respects - that's not got to be our tone. Let's stand back, let's not get over-excited, and lets report fairly, just as we would if it was a more conventional figure in the White House.
Roger Bolton: But it's a question of what you choose to report and so some criticism that you've become a bit obsessed with Trump. Is there a danger you're moving into that sort of territory though and you're ceasing to report, as it were, on America as a whole and reporting almost exclusively on the White House?
Jon Sopel: Well, I think there is a fairness to that criticism, but when what is unfolding at the White House is unfolding I actually think it would be negligent not to report on it, because then we would be saying, 'Well, it's perfectly normal for a president to go after a TV presenter on Twitter and be abusive about them'. I mean just this week, Roger, we have had the undermining of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a series of tweets and at a Rose Garden news conference. Just think of the Prime Minister of Britain standing up and saying that one of her key ministers was weak, beleaguered, had been disappointing. We would all be saying 'That's unsustainable. There is no way that that person can survive. They've got to be fired'. Jeff Sessions is still there. We had his speech to the Boy Scouts where he said he wouldn't talk about politics because he was with an audience of 12 to 18 year olds and proceeded to lambast Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and gave a very highly political speech. And so it goes on. This is not an orthodox presidency.
Roger Bolton: I think that's very, very clear! But one or two of our listeners think that you perhaps should be more sceptical of the so-called 'evil Russia' stories. I'm thinking here of Paul Kindlan, who says that the BBC has chosen to imitate CNN and swallow the 'nothing burger', making themselves look pretty foolish. So far, of course, there have been meetings with Russians and those have been denied, and then people have said they took place, but there's no smoking gun in sight, is there?
Jon Sopel: There is smoke. There is a little bit of fire. But wouldn't it be bizarre were we not to investigate it? Just to put this in context: So far in the six months of Donald Trump's presidency it has cost Michael Flynn, the National Security Adviser, his job after lying about his contacts with Russia and not being truthful to the Vice-President about meeting the Russian ambassador, It's led to the firing of the Director of the FBI. We've now had the meeting with Donald Trump Jnr where they were told that they were meeting representatives of the Russian government and that they would be getting dirt on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Jnr was saying, 'Can't wait!', and that was a meeting attended by the head of the campaign, Donald Trump's son-in-law, and Donald Trump's son. It may be that Russia will add up to nothing, but my goodness it's caused a lot of collateral damage so far and were we not to report on it and investigate it I think we'd be negligent. 
Roger Bolton: Now most people thought it would be a rocky ride with Donald Trump but that things will be starting to settle down. Is there any sign of it? Or as Don Moore put it in an email to us, is this a family business or a government of sycophants?
Jon Sopel: I don't think there's going to be any settling down. I thought it might. I thought that normal processes would assert themselves. I don't see any sign of that whatsoever. I think it is going to continue to be quarrelsome, some would say 'dysfunctional', unpredictable. And I think that in a sense Donald Trump loves the drama of it all.
Roger Bolton: And finally Jon, you said the President is enjoying himself. Is Jon Sopel enjoying himself?
Jon Sopel: It is simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting - probably in equal measure, although sometimes it goes a bit out of kilter. It is the most extraordinary time to be reporting on America. It is important. It does matter, and we've got the most enormous duty to try to report it fairly and accurately to our audience.
Roger Bolton: Our thanks to Jon Sopel, the BBC's North America Editor. Now from the soap opera in the White House to a U-turn in the corridors of Radio 4....

1 comment:

  1. No mention that the ex-MI6 spook who told Paul Wood about the Trump 'golden shower' video was on the DNC payroll to get dirt from the Russians on Trump. No mention that the Pakistani IT guy for the DNC has been arrested for bank fraud, and the FBI found a bunch of smashed hard drives at his house. No mention that his family was on extraordinarily high (for your average IT manager) DNC salaries for quite some time.

    The reason the dynamic between Trump and the press is still adversarial is because the media have declared themselves to be sworn enemies of Trump. They invent stories and suppress the real ones that hurt the Democrats. Sopel knows exactly what's been going on, and if he doesn't make a major report on it, he's just as complicit. Shame.


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