"Why are you relatable to families up and down the country? How can they relate to you and your family?"
That's a question Naga Munchetty put to Boris Johnson on Friday's BBC Breakfast - and one of her BBC colleagues was very impressed:
Great lesson for interviewers, this — the question so open, and so lethal pic.twitter.com/DMhT54ZlIm— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) November 15, 2019
Boris appeared flummoxed and struggled for an answer, and this absolutely delighted his critics. They felt that he'd been exposed as the priveleged charlatan he is, and took to Twitter en masse to extol Naga's virtues as an interviewer.
They positively love-bombed her.
Others, however, thought that this was a ghastly attempt at a 'gotcha', and that she'd asked him a question most people would struggle to answer.
Here's a not-so-typical sample of the Twitter discussion about it:
JJ Techilovsky I'm a Corbyn supporter but I thought it a stupid question. It's not his fault which family he was born into. But challenge him on the things he is responsible for.Trish: It's not about the type of family he was born into it's about his values and principles, ....to me it was a simple and honest question but obviously he was stumped for an answer. God help us all.JJ Techilovsky: She literally said "how can they relate to you and your family?" I'm not a fan of Boris but if it was about his principles she could have just said "What are your values and principles?"Matt Byrne: Nothing to do with the family he was brought up in, that isn't his fault. More to do with his current families and children, she was basically very cleverly calling him a bollox.
And here's the Daily Telegraph's Benedict Spence, agreeing that "she was basically very cleverly calling him a bollox", albeit throughout the interview, and most definitely not admiring her for it:
Take Friday's interview between Naga Munchetty and the PM on BBC Breakfast. What was billed as cosy sofa chat — to allow the audience to get to know the candidate better — quickly became an aggressive interrogation, full of prickliness, with an air of dismissiveness from Munchetty, and punctuated by interruptions, digs, and plenty of over-laboured efforts at a ‘gotcha’ moment.
It’s one of the things that has come to mark broadcast interviewing strategies in this country, and it isn’t edifying or constructive — not to delve into the crux of policies, say, or actually get a straight answer, but instead to try where possible to harangue the interviewee, and make them out to be beyond contempt.
Perhaps Jeremy Paxman is responsible for this — he of the famous Michael Howard interview — but it now seems to be more important to render people immobile before verbally goring them than to actually interview them.
It has been one of the great complaints made against Today, of late, that presenters talk and snipe too much. It ends up telling the public very little about the person, or policies, they were ostensibly tuning in to discover more of.