Wednesday 6 January 2021

Maitlis of the Bailey

You can always tell who's in the dock on Newsnight when Emily Maitlis is presenting.

Toby Young was very much in the dock last night

She had past quotes lined up in evidence against him. She repeatedly contradicted and argued with him. She had that laugh in her voice. She demanded contrition. And she interrupted him 6 times.

She wasn't just interviewing Toby though. She was also sort-of interviewing Ian Dunt.

(She got Ian's name right, you'll doubtless be relieved to hear, with no 'Jeremy Hunt'-type misspeaks). 

She interrupted Ian just once - and that was only so that she could get straight back to bringing the errant Toby Young to book. 

No gotchas, no contradictions, came hurtling Ian's way.

In fact, Ian might as well have not been there. He didn't get much of a look-in, and could have had an early night instead.

This was because Emily kept the focus relentlessly on the accused, Toby Young, and because Emily was so intent on acting as chief prosecutor poor Ian Dunt was demoted to a mere eye-rolling witness for the prosecution. 

Alternative arguments regarding this encounter, however, run as follows:

1. 'Toby Young shouldn't have been allowed on, and the BBC disgraced itself by even giving him airtime. He's a dangerous, ignorant liar. It's like Nigel Farage all over again.' 

2. 'Toby Young deserved to be treated like criminal and Ian Dunt a mere witness in this case because, Toby Young is akin to a flat-earther, and - during a pandemic - a dangerous flat-earther as far as Covid goes. So, if interviewed, he should be proved guilty at every opportunity and convicted. Emily was doing her duty.'

What I wonder is why Toby agreed to go on. He's not naïve. Surely he knew what was coming. It was the deadest of dead certs. Self-confidence maybe? (One for his Spectator column if so).

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