Friday 21 December 2018

Jacob Rees-Mogg gets the full Jonathan Dimbleby treatment

Jacob and the other one

On this morning's Today, just before the 8 o'clock news, Jonathan Dimbleby (brother of the more famous David) previewed tonight's Any Questions:
An airport shuts down; more homeless die; Trump drops another bombshell; Putin backs Brexit; Theresa May turns pantomime dame; Jeremy Corbyn provides rich pickings for lip-readers; cabinet ministers are openly at odds with each other but reassure us that troops will be on standby if needed. So a festive mood for our last programme of the year with Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of Brexit's militant tendency; Joanna Cherry for the 'don't leave at any price' SNP; Shami Chakrabarti speaking for Labour's 'we have yet to decide' option; and former president of the CBI now chair of London First Paul Drechsler, who would just like some certainty please. This evening at 8 o'clock. 
Of the phrases used to describe the four guests, you'll spot that Jacob Rees-Mogg got the insulting one and that, as far as the other guests go, Baroness Chakrabarti got a critical one, while - in contrast - Joanna Cherry and Paul Drechsler both got helpful ones.

Why was that? Was it because the latter pair are the clearest opponents of Brexit, so merit such 'helpful' introductions, while Jacob Rees-Mogg, as the clearest supporter of Brexit, merits nothing but mockery? And did Shami end up with a (gentler) ribbing because of her party leadership's refusal to come down clearly on the same side as Ms. Cherry and Mr. Drechsler over Brexit? Or is this all just conspiracy-theory-mongering?

Whatever, it wasn't a one-off from the BBC man today.

Here's Jonathan Dimbleby's introduction to the programme itself, coming live from London. And note who this time is the only guest to get belittled and mocked. (Spoiler alert: It's Jacob):
Joanna Cherry is a QC by profession but, nowadays, virtually fully engaged in speaking for her party, the SNP, at Westminster on justice and home affairs. Shami Chakrabarti came to prominence as the director of the human rights charity Liberty/ She's now in the Lords and serves the Labour Party Shadow Attorney General. Jacob Rees-Mogg chairs the European Research Group, which was instrumental in failing to topple Theresa May as his party leader last week. No less significantly he says, admits, acknowledges, he's never changed one of his six children's nappies. Paul Drechsler is deputy president the CBI (he was president before that), chair of the Bibby shipping line and, after running a number of major businesses, is now chair of London First, which campaigns to make the capital the best city in the world to do business. Our panel. 
Yes, Ms. Cherry, the Noble Baroness and Mr. Drechsler got straightforward introductions, which none of them would have felt displeased by, from their BBC host. Only Mr. Rees-Mogg got the full 'Jonathan Dimbleby treatment'.

Besides the outright derision of "...was instrumental in failing to topple...", there was also the loaded 'colour' about him not changing his six children's nappies ("says, admits, acknowledges") .

And (girding our loins and listening on) who do you think got interrupted the most by Jonathan tonight? Yes, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

And who got asked the most challenging questions by Jonathan? Yes, Jacob Rees-Mogg - by a large margin (more than twice any one else).

And which panellist did Jonathan mockingly impersonate during one of the BBC man's many interventions? Yes, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

And who was the only panellist to get repeated questions about his personal integrity from BBC presenter Jonathan Dimbleby? Well, you might have thought Baroness Chakrabarti would have been first in line for that kind of treatment but, no, this is the, yes, it was Jacob Rees-Mogg again.

My take on the stats for tonight's Any Questions runs as follows:

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Questions - 12
Interruptions - 4

Joanna Cherry
Questions - 2
Interruptions - 1

Paul Drechsler
Questions - 5
Interruptions - 1

Shami Chakrabarti 
Questions - 4
Interruptions - 3

Anyhow, another very vital statistic was pointed out by Mr Rees-Mogg himself (on Twitter):

And when the Brexit question came up it very clearly was 3 Remainers (and the most vocal part of the audience) against 1 Brexiteer.

As I've said before, I rarely listen to Any Questions these days (having been a great fan in my youth), mostly because of what I felt was the bias of its presenter and production team. I dipped in tonight (purely for the blog's sake) - as I did a few weeks back - and found it exactly how I remember it: Biased. 


  1. Another classic analysis Craig showing the bias is fact and not perception.

  2. Well that was typical Dimbo J ambush technique: pounce on the Tory / the Leaver once he's said something to give you an opening, as in the Jacob comment about polite discourse. Dimbo J always comes prepared, not with one ambush question but two or three so he has a follow-up to spring on the target if the first one doesn't land or target manages to escape the net. Tonight he did a sob story about the poor defenceless Canadian who can't answer back and then the killer follow-up question about Major being accused of rambling. On other occasions he has gone to three.
    And note how he'd tried to set up a false equivalence between sharp criticism and putdown, admittedly rude and unpleasant though it is, and threats of violence, suicide etc, as Jacob picked up.

    1. People like JRM should make references to family responsibility when talking to Dimbo J - a dodger of the first order.

    2. Priming the audience in advance to ensure that they on message with BBC groupthink seems to be a regular Dimbo tactic for both the brothers.

    3. He seemed almost gleeful about the airport fiasco for thousands of people and wrangles over leaving the EU in that typically crafted intro piece that Craig posted, because its whole purpose was to set it up for the forthcoming theme of getting the Tories. Hence the jibes at Rees-Mogg. Dimbo can't afford to talk about family, as MB points out above.

  3. As the BBC approaches its end criticism becomes counterproductive as it elicits reaction from some near epiphany that the corporation is being attacked by "rightwing extremists", and retards their conversion. Better simply to give them as much rope as they need.

  4. Just heard a sizeable chunk of the repeat .The bias was off the scale! The analysis can't show the verbal aggression displayed by Dimbo to JRM and the contrasting pleasantness of his interventions with respect to other guests. Dimbo lied about wha Varadkar said, claiming it meant a hard border would be erected in event of a no deal even though Varadkar uttered no such words, whereas the (edited) quotation he read out actually supported JRM's position, that Varadkar had indicated there would be no hard border in the event of a no deal exit. Also, Dimbo did nothing to restrain the venom of the SNP? woman who was not addressing JRM's arguments but simply insulting him - using words like "nasty".

    Jonathan Dimbleby is a disgrace to the traditions of free and open, civilised debate that used to obtain on the BBC when his father's presence was felt.

    I noted also that Dimbo seems to have invented a new type of interruption - the Applause Prophylatic. He could tell at one stage that JRM was coming to the end of his answer and was more than likely to get some applause (despite the pro-Brexit bias of the audience) - he therefore interrupted v. loudly just as JRM uttered his final word, to prevent the applause. Quite extraordinary!

    1. Yes, he really went over the top. I can't believe I used to like the Dimbo brothers. That SNP woman was Joanna Cherry who came over as a right rough tough, yelling at somebody that she is an expert on the border because her mother is Irish from Galway. Not that that is anywhere near the border of course and going on your holidays means naff all. But Dimbo wasn't going to haul her up no matter what. One thing I learned from the programme is that she is a QC, something I hadn't picked up in connection with Jolyon Maugham QC in that court case trying to stop us leaving. You'd think as a QC she must know how to speak with a bit of decorum and restraint.

  5. Yes, sometimes you've got to hear it to get the full effect of hte bias.

    That's another one for next years Festive 100 then: Bias by Applause Prophylactic. (Love it!)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.