Sunday 10 December 2017

Mr. Marr's Sunday Menu

So, Theresa May's best week, I guess, since she became Prime Minister, getting that first Brexit agreement. But this leaves open the biggest question of all - what kind of relationship are we going to have with the EU? What kind of country are we going to be? At last, the Cabinet are going to settle down to discuss it. About time, because, as with Labour, right now, it's clear as mud. David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, and Sir Keir Starmer, his Labour opposite number, are both here, mud-free, promising straight answers to straight questions. I'll also be talking to Ian Blackford, the SNP's Leader at Westminster, about his call this morning for Labour to join his party in a pledge to stay inside the Single Market. And I've been talking to the Hollywood screenwriter and West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, on his first film as a director, Molly's Game, with its star Jessica Chastain. Plus reviewing the news, Gina Miller, the anti-Brexit campaigner, the broadcaster Iain Dale - he's pro-Brexit - and observing them both, Anushka Asthana, political editor of the Guardian

A question from former UKIP leader (now an independent) Steven Woolfe: which the answer is 'No'. The guest line up was 3 Remainers v 2 Leavers (if you don't count Anushka Asthana of the Grauniad as a Remainer. If you do then it's 4 Remainers v 2 Leavers). Time-wise, however, as far as the three big political interviews went, given that the David Davis interview was almost as long as the Ian Blackford and Sir Keir Starmer interviews combined, that imbalance looks much less unbalanced. The press review had pro-Brexit Iain Dale and anti-Brexit Gina Miller - and Anushka Asthana. So make of that what you will!


Tina Daheley's left-leaning bias 

Sue's busy today, but wants to know why Tina Daheley has to sit off-centre when reading the news. Once you notice it you can't unnotice it, she says. 

Sue's right, and now I'm noticing it too. (Thanks for that, Sue!). 


Here's Marr editor Rob Burley:

Of course, there's a good deal of truth to that. It's vanishingly rare to find anyone who ever accuses Andrew Marr of conducting a "soft" interview with someone they support or who accuses him of conducting a "hard" interviewee with somebody they themselves can't abide. Funny that, isn't it? That said, I think Andrew was tough on all three of his main interviewees today - even the ones I disagree with. So there! They were all excellent interviews.

I especially enjoyed the sequence of clips of politicians from both sides in the EU referendum saying that we'd be leaving the Single Market if we voted to leave the EU which was played to the SNP leader at Westminster. Ian Blackford blethered on regardless and tried a spot of whataboutery but was made to look silly by doing so. (Entirely his own fault, of course). 
Naturally, not everyone agreed with Rob's tweet. Someone went off at an interesting tangent too: 
Rob Burley: So, here's another thing, seems to me that people's view of whether we are hard or soft on interviewees is closely-related to whether they agree or disagree with said interviewee. It's boring.
Paul Ewart: Here's the thing: journalists should be holding government ministers to account over Brexit. The opposition, is, um....the opposition. Brexit as an issue, derives almost entirely from Conservative divisions and incompetence.
Rob Burley‏: We hold both to scrutiny. It's simple.
Paul Ewart: Government should be held to account more than the opposition. It's simple: speak truth to power.
Rob Burley‏: We don't take the view that we should favour one or the other. Obviously they are in a different position but both must be examined.
Paul Ewart: It's not about favouring for goodness sake, it's about holding to account those who are actually enacting power and policy. On an issue such as Brexit, the government of the day should always, always be held to higher account than the opposition &thus more stringent interrogation. That I should need to explain this to an experienced journalist is beyond baffling.
Trumpton‏: (interrupting) All elected politicians are in a position of power - suggesting that a Labour MP should not be scrutinised is just baffling.
Rob Burley: Enough of the logic. You're in the wrong place.
I suspect you'll be able to guess where Paul Ewart comes from politically. (Clue: He's not fond of Tories and is unlikely to ever complain that the BBC gave the likes of David Davis a hard interview).

This discussion went on and on, incidentally, with Rob at one point begging the persistent Paul to block him!

That said, I'm not the only one being virtuous today. Zelo Street's Tim Fenton (very much from the same part of the political spectrum as Paul) is being just as virtuous:
@AndrewMarr9 shows with David Davis + Kier Starmer that he is an equal opportunity bringer of difficult questions #MarrShow
Rob Burley replied, "Thanks Tim - and you are not a man who is easily pleased." (He's not wrong about that either!)

And, finally in this section, Rob also received a "Top Tip" from one viewer: "If you waterboard all participants, no such accusations can be thrown at you and it is far from boring. Let's do that next week, OK?"



Sue also wants to know why Andrew Marr asked film director Aaron Sorkin Molly Bloom about Trump's Jerusalem decision? "Could it be that  a lefty luvvie might come up with an unexpected answer?", she asked rhetorically. "I. Don't. Think. So", she replied. 

And she was right not to think so. Mr Sorkin was nothing if not predictable here:
Andrew Marr: When you're making a film, you've written presidents, you've written the Social Network and now you're bringing in the Russian Mafia. That can't not be a political statement at this moment?
Aaron Sorkin: It would have been a political statement no matter what year the film was released. As it happened, this film suddenly became more relevant than anyone expected it to be. I'll even tell you this - many of the Russian mobsters who Molly inadvertently lets into her game, she did not know that they were connected, as we say, in the US. Many of them lived in Trump Tower.
Andrew Marr: And your characters in the West Wing have this golden way of speaking which owes a lot to JFK, I guess, and that era, and the writers around there. And we now have a president who communicates by tweet. Can I put it to you that, actually, whatever you think of Donald Trump - and I suspect you're not a huge supporter - he's a very, very effective modern rhetoritician?
Aaron Sorkin: Well, effective at what? I don't think there's a grand strategy behind what he's doing, I don't think he's playing 3D chess while the rest of us are playing checkers. I think that we are seeing a guy just lob spitballs, and what he does best and what his base likes him the most for is that he's an excellent stick with which to poke their enemies in the eye.
Andrew Marr: You come from an American-Jewish heritage. Do you not at least applaud the move to Jerusalem as the capital, the American embassy going to Jerusalem? A lot of people in Israel are really, really delighted.
Aaron Sorkin: No, I am not delighted that he did that. It was absolutely unnecessary. There is no upside to it. It will very likely cause violence around the world. A lot of that violence is going to be directed toward Americans. It was an empty gesture designed to appease a very, very narrow group of supporters. Of course, Israel is applauding it, and of course, we all support Israel, but it was a reckless and stupid thing to do. 

There was no musical number at the end this week, so here's some Abba:


  1. No one's bothered about the programme...we just want to see the Rob Burley bun fight on Twitter afterwards! :)

    1. One might suspect Rob trawls a bit with stuff like this:

      "Personal opinion: very strong showing from @AndrewMarr9 this morning. Interviews that moved things on thanks to his polite persistence. #marr"

      Oddly, such embracing of his Mandy Rice Davies side does attract replies from some he seems happier to respond to than others.

      Nice though to see a bbc staffer flag an opinion as personal for once. Though that does rather but the others in a pickle.

  2. “Craig! How very dare you reveal that I talk to myself? (I said to myself)

    Anyway, I thought it was “unhelpful” (to coin a phrase) to bring up the Jerusalem issue in an interview (about his new film) with a luvvie of “American Jewish heritage”.

    As if Andrew Marr couldn’t predict which way a member of the showbiz fraternity would swing.
    Andrew Marr! it’s no good putting on that “innocent face”, I know what you were up to.

    Might Sorkin (asaJew) gainsay the prevailing left-wing position and support Trump? Hmm. I think not, but In that unlikely event, his word (asaJew) could be discounted as (Mandy Rice-Davies type) worthless.

    Or, would he stick with the prevailing left-wing position and condemn Trump?
    Surprise surprise! as Cilla Black might have said. His condemnation of Trump was duly delivered, and his word, (asaJew) was - if not priceless - at least worth more than that of a non-Jew, who would-say-that-wouldn’t-they.

    Extracting a gratuitous and irrelevant bit of Trump-bashing / Israel-bashing came across (to me, at least) as opportunistic, and a win-win scenario for the Trump-bashing / Israel-bashing fraternity and the BBC.


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