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Political journalism - Guido Fawkes accuses

  • Newsnight
  • 28 Mar 07, 12:35 PM

Guido Fawkes blog imageOn Wednesday's Newsnight controversial political blogger Guido Fawkes explained why he believes political journalists are short changing the public.

He says because he does not interview politicians he does not have to worry about offending them and can therefore tell his readers more than the mainstream media does. He also challenges Jeremy Paxman over the reading of government statements and so-called "empty chairing".

Watch Guido's film and the lively debate afterward with the Guardian's Michael White - here - and having watched it, tell us what you think below...

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 01:34 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Carey wrote:

I totally agree with Guido's film. I hate hearing those 'prepared statements' by the government. I would rather not have them if there is no one to take issue with the points raised. If you have offered them airtime and they don't want to come in - forget em...

Okay, so reading out statements is not ideal. But as Paxman rightly put it, what is Guido's alternative suggestion? That the broadcast media don't interview politicians, or indeed put their agenda across, at all? That instead of having a plurality of views on shows like Newsnight - albeit with an establishment bias - broadcasters adopt the obsessive, personalised and trivial approach of www.order-order.com.

  • 3.
  • At 01:36 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Mair wrote:

Rather than having the presenter read out a statement issued by whichever politician has refused to be interviewed why not either show the statement in the form it was presented to the programme - in silence (or maybe using a split screen and having something more interesting on the other half of the screen so that people don't switch off) or indicate that a statement has been received and it's available to view for a limited period of time on the webpage or on the information pages? And if the politicians don't like it then they know what they need to do and face the questions.

  • 4.
  • At 01:38 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Understand where the blogger is coming from. But who is questioning the blogger and what is HIS agenda. At least we see the media Paxmans etc. sort opf face to face over the years and are able to make some sort of judgement as to their reliability and bias.

The blogger could be any nutter or have any agenda.

Not suggesting he is. But who is he?

  • 5.
  • At 01:39 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • mike wrote:

The blog is interesting, the comments however are in the most made up of obscenities,the BBC would not even late at night be in a position to read out many of the postings made.

  • 6.
  • At 01:39 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

The underlying premise of Mr Fawkes' piece is correct. Viewers are aware and despise how interviewers draw back in order to 'make sure the interviewee will return next time'.

Forcing the subject to face up to and answer the actual question posed is an essential component of a worthwhile interview. Much more so than ensuring the subject will be back next week to trot out the same old diversionary platitudes.

  • 7.
  • At 01:41 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Thomas C Swan wrote:

So nice to read the Bloggers full name. A friend in England were talking a while ago, and I had mentioned to her, that I thought that I had remembered that Guy Fawkes proper sir name was Guido...Thanks for reminding me. Tom

  • 8.
  • At 01:44 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Gareth Sturdy wrote:

It's totally pointless to read out a statement from a government representative if they choose not to appear. Why will they ever agree to be cross-examined, if you're just going to give their version anyway? Balance comes by reporting that right of reply was offered and declined, nothing more. Paxman seems not to appreciate this distinction in the film.

  • 9.
  • At 01:45 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • edwardbenson wrote:

Hmm, not convinced.

The logic of Guido's case would be that any serious broadcaster should never interview politicians, as it necessarily compromises their journalistic integrity.

But political interviews are vital to democracy and often play a huge role in exposing hypocrisy and lies. So what exactly is the alternative he's suggesting?

Having frequented Guido's blog, it does seem to be rife with conspiracy theories about the government and broadcasters being in it together. (Not sure what the 'it' is.) Admittedly, it often comes more from the people commenting than from Guido himself. But it reeks of childish conspiracy theorising, rather than any attempt at constructive debate.

He has a point.

Politicians do need the media but the media also need politicians, and this symbiotic relationship can (as is most obvious in the US) the media to "Go easy" on some politicians, especially throes that the owner agrees with. That said I don't think Paxman (and the BBC in general) is as guilty of this as some in the media, mostly because the public is the owner of the BBC.

  • 11.
  • At 01:48 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Bill Bartlett wrote:

I would like to watch, but on clicking your "just click here" link, I'm presented with a BBC 403- FORBIDDEN notice.
Forbidden by whom and why???
Please fix this or explain.
Bill Bartlett
Tampa, USA.

  • 12.
  • At 01:54 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Melanie wrote:

Have yet to see this but if the UK follows the States there is nothing but trouble for democracy. I have been seeing the corruption of the media for years there. That is why questioning is so lukewarm (if that!)in the US. I despise this. It's just like the embassy staff in most countries - they are all going to the same cocktail parties and nodding in agreement about the safety of THEIR position but not for the average man on the street. (I personally saw this in Teheran before the hostages were captured). The media must not be allowed to softly, softly with government or the UK will follow the US and the establishment will simply do what it wants - usually against the best interests of the country!

Politician's AND Journolists are both working to achieve the same objective. So long as the longer-term globalisation of the planet is being pursued, then the media are soft. If any politician strays from that, they get savaged, or even worse, ignored altogether.

  • 14.
  • At 01:59 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Andy Spiller wrote:

I believe the Newsnight team to be some of the best journalists in the business - however I do feel that there is only political accountability when MPs and the like are taken outside their comfort zone.

This is such a rare event nowadays that it is no wonder the majority of the public despair of their elected officials. All too often do we see obfuscation, denial, lying (sorry, that should be "mispokem" or perhaps "misunderstood", what the honorable member really meant was. . . . )when what the public (i.e. ME) wants is a straight, honest answer.

I am happy to accept political viewpoints. Rarely does a blatant truth ever get quoted in terms the audience wishes to hear. Therefore ritual slaughter of the Westminster in-crowd, including the magnificent JP et al can only be expected. It may be refuted in the "I don't accept your argument" bluster of those in the know - perhaps this is the true benchmark of just how out of touch the 4th estate and the political machineries are with the people that pay the bill.

  • 15.
  • At 02:03 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

I agree with most of Guidos filmed/videod comments .... I must also state that I favour a certain party & when that party are getting "Stick" I (sometimes)blame the interviewer. Sometimes it's blatantly obvious that they are adopting a party line..bad journalism..but i'm not paying their salaries!
On a flagship sister programme tx on Sundays AM! The presenter is really v obviously biased at times, I think, & have often sent mails to that effect.
But before that programme he was my favourite Broadcaster/Reporter when in the field... It must be a bloody awful job at times!

  • 16.
  • At 02:03 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Manjit wrote:

I agree with Paxman, I really car'nt see what 'Guido Fawkes' argument is to be honest. Besides does he not have a relationship with the Tory party? So it's bit rich of him to go around saying he is above party politics etc.

  • 17.
  • At 02:10 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • David Hough wrote:

I have just seen the Guido Fawkes film and it strikes me as there being several fundamental problems with his approach.

Whilst he is correct to say that there are problems with political journalism, and the apparent cosiness of the relationship, he is speaking from the confort of 'the outsider'.

The views he expresses in his blog are unmoderated, and by definition, there is no way of telling whether there is truth in rumours. Also he puts forward his view, in the knowledge that there is no opportunity for reply.

On programmes such as 'Newsnight' the whole idea is to obtain information, and challenge the interviewee. Certainly I would agree that politicians should be more prepared to answer questions in all circumstances, which affect their remits. However, at least in this forum there is opportunity to hear both sides, and make up your own mind.

The journalist has a very difficult job. They need to balance the need to extract information, with maintaining a relationship so that this is an ongoing process.

In the end, both forms are valuable, and to say that one is better, and offers more freedom is a spurious argument.

  • 18.
  • At 02:16 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Simon King wrote:

It just demonstrates where politics and media is. PR works in the same way. Why don't interviewers ask certain uncomfortable questions of actors or musicians? Because the journalist knows that not only will they never get another interview with that particular star, but also with any of the PR's other clients. The journalist will get a reputation for being difficult, they'll get fewer big interviews, their reputation will decrease. There are enough friendly outlets in the media for people to use to get their message out that they can choose to avoid the unfriendly ones. So either people stop being nice to politicians (which will never happen: too many agendas going on) or journalists decide their careers will only last a year.

I don't read Guido, and I can't understand the reverence that surrounds most political blogging. From what I can see he seems mostly focussed on petty quotidian nit-picking, self-indulgent conspiracy theorising and childish, pathetically laboured attempts at satire.

On the odd occassion when he does have something useful, interesting or amusing to say, it will find its way into my inbox anyway because a good story will always spread. But this makes it no different from any other media source.

Political journalists are indeed constrained by their relationships with politicians. But they also gain access to the top opinion formers and decision makers in return. This allows the reader to get an insight into what really counts: what is on the policy agenda, who is making the decisions and on what basis. All information sources have their benefits and drawbacks. The trick is to use them wisely and selectively in order to form a view.

Let's not patronise people who choose to follow politics. We are quite capable of understanding the game being played by allcomers in the media and politics and forming our own intelligent judgements. Give us the credit for being able to read between the lines and stop looking for sinister plotlines in ephemeral froth.

Is he replacing Michael Crick as chief investigator?

  • 21.
  • At 02:22 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Fred Jones wrote:

Fantastic!! please can we have more Newsnight.

  • 22.
  • At 02:24 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Chris Clark wrote:

I was amazed when the recent story about "bin collections taking place every two weeks" appeared to be taken hook line and sinker by the BBC. It was "environmnetally friendly and not a health hazard" we were told...come on..lazy lazy....

  • 23.
  • At 02:31 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Ian Olive wrote:

I live in France so I can't see the film clip because of the BBC's restrictions. Anyway I read and contribute to Guido Fawkes blog finding it intersting and fun too. Most politicians in power from Blair downwards lie routinely to the electorate. Remembering that most of them have never had a proper job in their entire lives, so they do this to preserve their positions, perks and salaries as long as they can and hide their mind-boggling incompetence. They even employ people at public expense to write the lies for them. So why read them? Who do they think they are kidding?

Of course we need an independent view of what they are all up to in the ivory towers of Whitehall. Guido's blog might not be ideal or the best, but it's not far off and the more political bloggers there are, the more honest the politicians will have to be. Trouble is most of them wouldn't know how to tell the truth if their lives depended on it. Allvery sad really...

  • 24.
  • At 02:35 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Maurice - Northumberland wrote:

We are all stuck with the fact - That a Robin Day is no longer around.

He did not allow the Clock (as Politicians do) to be used as a barrier, nor from memory a one sided political agenda to interfere with the job in hand.
The major barrier faced by interviewers/commentators today is 'Political Correctness' (the truth inhibitor).

I think reading out Govt statements is fine, just so long as you do it in the typically sarcastic Paxman voice with the comedy facial expressions...

  • 26.
  • At 02:56 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Christopher Hollis wrote:

It is perhaps inevitable that the political jurnos need to keep in with the politicians they regularly interview.
Where would they be (except perhaps out of a job) If the Politicians decided to Black a certain Jurno?
(No one to interview . . which is perhaps why Jeremy often has to read out a statement against a shot of an empty chair?)
Jeremy Paxman is my Hero, but even he sometimes seems to miss the point and merges into the Political-Club that is the westminster village.
We (ordinary) folk out here do need answers to relevant questions as we struggle through our lives.
It is perhaps as a result of not getting those answers which leads us to be more disenchanted with our rulers and less and less interested in politics come election time.

Signed
Christopher (in wheelchair)

  • 27.
  • At 03:13 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Joanne Harvey wrote:

I would Really Love Mr Crick to "DO" a survey of every so-called Political Commentators and Newsreaders to asertain if - as it seams - that all are appointed from the "Guardianship" wing of Journalism.
This would include the Sky News -with Mr Boulton - who seems to number 99% of the Labour Party among his friends. ITV reporters - which seem to be independantly minded & and of course your own Mr Paxman, Karney etc - but not forgetting Mr Naughtie, Mr Marr, (Well known Labour surporters).
Now I come to Mr Robinson - who it seems is teased endlessly because he was once registered with the Tories -which is an entirely different reaction - when commentators are known to be Labour supporters.
Is this fair, and do the public get a slanted interpretation of the Political news and views???
Bearing in mind the endless "Anti-Cameron" Articles in all the Newspapers - which also includes the Telegraph (especially) and the Sunday Mail/Express - is there a REAL hidden agenda here from the so-called Left?
This would really make a very good Panorama programme - if the BBC are brave and honest enough.
Yours hopefully,
Joanne Harvey

  • 28.
  • At 03:22 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Mark Griffiths wrote:

I agree totally with Guido. Government in a democracy should be about the pursuit of the public interest, and about accountability to that public. Where politicians have acted in ways that seem contrary to the public interest or public will, it is our right to demand an explanation - and to keep demanding until it is given.

The above would be the minimum requirement of any meaningful democracy…

  • 29.
  • At 03:23 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Jono wrote:

I think Jeremy Paxman was mixing up 2 issues. Empty-chairing is the standard 'We asked the department to put someone up for interview, but were told no-one was available.' I think that is fine.
On the other hand, there is reading out a statement - these are used by departments, and others, to get their point across in the knowledge that they can't be challenged. I think the BBC, and Newsnight in particular, should adopt a policy of saying 'We asked the department to put someone up for interview, but were told no-one was available. The department gave us a statement, which is available to read on our website for the next 24 hours.' Don't give the content of the statement itself any airtime.

  • 30.
  • At 03:31 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • john quick wrote:

Guido has touched on one of the points why I am less engaged with the political process now than I have ever been,the politcians really do their best to make us cynical

  • 31.
  • At 03:44 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • David Shinn wrote:

I enjoy reading Guiodo's blog but it seems a bit rich for him to criticise the Beeb for lack of 'thrust' when he won't present his face - or proper name - to the cameras. I can't help wonder if his real reason for this rant is to raise the profile of his blog-site so he can flog-off more advertising on it.

  • 32.
  • At 03:44 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Ros Atack wrote:

At last a squeak of normal mans thinking.
As a one time very small political activist I believe that we , Mr Mrs Man in the Street, deserve more openness and honesty from the media. If there is an issue to be raised and the parties, having been invited to contribute, choose not to then what I want to hear is an unequivical statement of that fact. It should include any comment or reasoning given by the invited party but not a third persons employed presentation opinion for the invitees decision to not contribute. We all have to make a choice as to whom we believe on election day, participation , or not, in discussion along the way contributes to the process.

Whilst I don't quite agree with Jeremy Paxman's accusation that Guido is "living in a pathetic conspiracy world" for forwarding his argument in the way he does, I'm not entirely sold. For the politically uninitiated Guido may seem a champion lone voice of reason in an increasingly spun world, but just like those who contribute on political blogs he operates within the larger virtual Westminster Village where relationships do count.

Nick Robinson and Adam Boulton may be more familiar figures to the general public but Guido, for all his protestations of anonymity is a player in this town and is increasingly known not as Guido but as the person he really is.

Political blogs rely on readership for their traffic - and by extension their advertising revenue - and for tip offs and intelligence. Good stories and scandal do not emerge from thin air and you need to have relationships to elicit information especially in a congested market for news and views.

I don't buy the argument that political bloggers have no relationships with politicans to worry about. Politics is an inter-connected world and whilst in the unregulated blogosphere you can get away with more than you can on traditional media, it is not fair to say that bloggers exist in some higher moral plain, separate and distinct from traditional media. The truth is we' re all in it, from lobbyists to MPs from newshacks to bloggers. The only difference is how political interactions take place and how to influence them. Do bloggers have more 'get out of jail free cards' than TV journos? Probably, but you cannot be invisible forever.

I disagree with Guido; there are rules of engagement for bloggers as there are for TV hacks, they may be a little different but they do still exist.

I agree with Jeremy on this one too! Even if a politican does decide to be a chicken by refusing to appear on the show and issue a statement instead, does it really do the politican any favours? Of course not!!Politicians should be and are grilled.
Jeremy could hardly be accused of siding with the Westminster political club - if he did, would we have had the infamous Michael Howard interview (refusing to answer the question!!!), or the Norman Lamont interview when asked if he liked being Chancellor, or with Tony Blair before the general elections?

  • 35.
  • At 04:14 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Tim Steele wrote:

Guido is right. What more can I say?

The answer to Guido's question is pretty straightforward. When the government declines to appear to discuss a general issue we usually tell the viewer that they have done so. But where we are making new revelations or reporting allegations about the government we seek a statement from them in response if they decline to be interviewed. That's not running propaganda, it's eliciting and reporting new information, and it's exactly what we do when reporting on any organisation.

Peter Barron

  • 37.
  • At 05:00 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Emily wrote:

I agree with Guido. The standard of political reporting has tumbled since the spin doctors have started using threats to intimidate journalists. Banning journos from briefings, and preventing access is just a sign that our politicians have a get-out-of-jail card which the media allow them to use.

It certainly doesn't help that so many spin doctors and politicians are now in relationships with people in the media either.

As for Paxman, I think he is now totally biased. I've seen the way he grills Conservatives and Lib Dems, while letting Labour MPs off very lightly. He was good when his party was in opposition. Now he's poor.

As for accusing Guido of "conspiracy theories" he really needs to look up what the term means.

  • 38.
  • At 05:03 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Paxo it's quite clear what you should do if the government can't be bothered to take your programme seriously. In the old days, The Beeb would say: "The Department refused to appear to comment."

You've given them the opposrtunity to give their side. If they fail to take your show or the public seriously enough to appear, then they can quite frankly stuff it.

  • 39.
  • At 05:35 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • ColinW wrote:

Why was his ugly mug not shown?

  • 40.
  • At 05:54 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Karma Llama wrote:

I just looked at the blog in question for the first (and last) time, and saw the results of a poll about whether Guido should take part in a studio debate.

Never send to know for whom the bell tolls, Guido: it tolls for thee.

Thou muppet.

  • 41.
  • At 05:58 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Maurice - Northumberland wrote:

Interesting, I can see the points of view of J. Paxman, Nick Robinson, Adam Boulton and others.
But I wonder if the media are short changing themselves.

Without the Media the Politician would have to go back on the stump, orange boxes all-round. So whilst the media want to ask a question of the Politician and get an honest answer in return, which is becoming more of a rarity. It boils down to their fear of being exposed or them telling lies and rubbish that fools no one.
I suggest the Politician needs the Media more than the media needs them, or at the very least an equal need and should result in mutual respect.
So when a Politician wants to come onto the screens pontificating on some modicum of success, say 'no thanks' 'get on the orange box/bike and tell your constituants and take their questions face to face'.

Not forgetting that the Internet has changed the whole system of information availability to everyone.
Honesty, the only Policy worth anything. If you can do that, you can't lose!

  • 42.
  • At 06:03 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Michael Burden wrote:

Of course we the public want more aggression. It means more politicians being embarrassed. Politicians are automatically seen as bad, so attacking them and those you are seen to protect them.
But this gives us an unfair perspective. Anyone who doubts the quality and value of the BBC and its charter should see the American media.
There will inevitably be problems and we should seek to remove these.
Bolgger help democracy, as they add to the diversity of view as to journalists. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. So their combination works well.

  • 43.
  • At 06:07 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Deaglan MacFarland wrote:

Having watched the film only once, I think it is good and constructive to raise awareness of the caution displayed by journalists when interviewing top politicians or reporting stories. Of course one can understand the importance of good manners and fair conduct and tone when journalists interview people. Also, I do think that there is a game being played by journalists and politicians but if something serious had to be addressed by a good journalist - something in the national interest for example - I doubt he or she would hold back for fear of upsetting the ego of whomever was under the spotlight. Journalists can make a big name for themselves by exposing inappropiate action from government officals. Furthermore, I do not think that bloggers are more better sources of information. In fact I suspect they are obviously less well informed than someone like Nick Robinson, who has probably been meeting with politicians all day in Westminister or is on a trip abroad with a senior politician. The freedom of bloggers to print what they like is to be wholeheartedly welcomed of course. But often the blogger is just as informed as the man at the next table, pontificating to his bored wife over a glass of wine and a cheese tray.

  • 44.
  • At 06:17 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Elizabeth wrote:

Andrew Marr political journalist- I don't thinks so!

  • 45.
  • At 06:24 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Colin D Gibbs wrote:

A return to a bit of common sense Guido. JP does a good job on the whole. [Rem. M. howard]. Truth, candidity & common sense are all I want & EXPECT! Save, a bit of humour.

  • 46.
  • At 06:30 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Colin Gibbs wrote:

Paxo Biased, what planet are you from.

A good piece, am looking forward to watching it live tonight. Naff the footie highlights.

  • 47.
  • At 07:01 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Tony Burleton wrote:

The first sentence of the second para does not make sense. Take out the 'is' and it's OK

  • 48.
  • At 08:19 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Manjit wrote:

Message 36:

Mr Barron, why do'nt you call 'Guido Fawkes' by his real name aka Paul Staines?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Staines

http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2007/02/profiling_guido_1.html

Much as I dislike Guido, I do think that he makes a good point about the statements.

Reading a prepared statement is hugely favourable to the other side, i don't see why they bother to take on inteviews at all, a prepared statement cant be challenged. The gloss cannot be tarnished! I`d love to see them taken away.

  • 50.
  • At 08:26 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Derek Phibes wrote:

Politicians have been complaining of public apathy about politics, so now the onus is on them to communicate with us; and this involves them having to listen and respond - not simply sending prepared statements and ignoring us. (How very Blairite that one-way traffic is!)

As not all the interested public can ask questions, we rely upon an interested and informed mediator and we listen to the answers. If we wanted newspeak from 'spinners' a written statement might do, but as we want to understand how our political elite represent out interests craftily-prepared written statements won't do.

I suggest Newsnight implement and publicise a 'Tub-of-Lard table' of politicians:
- a specific MP is invited but refuses = 10 'lardy' points;
- a government department refuses to send a spokesperson = all ministers in that department are given 15 'lardy' points;
- a specific cabinet minister refuses = 20 'lardy' points;
- for every 10 (registered) viewers who complain of a politician being evasive, using weasel words, or in any way obfuscating = 1 'lardy' point.

Such a table could be fun, might be a more stimulating way of dealing with voter/viewer dissatisfaction, and would find out which politicians actually want to engage with voters.

Might even be productive to base future invitations to Newsnight on a low score. The 'lardy' politicos would have to resort to 'Richard & Judy'.

  • 51.
  • At 09:14 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • john wrote:

The ghost of wat tyler.

  • 52.
  • At 11:20 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Simon Blanchard wrote:

Having just seen the item, I can only breathe a sigh of relief that the whole issue of political journalists being the naughty cousins of the political classes is finally being addressed. And they wonder why nobody votes!

I do think Guido raises good points in his programme but it was hilarious to see him getting completely slammed by Paxo and the Guardian guy. It was one of the best Newsnight eps i've seen in a long time!

  • 54.
  • At 11:25 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • John wrote:

Come, Staines. Show us your face.

  • 55.
  • At 11:27 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Jamie Taylor wrote:

Sorry Paul/Guido, you made yourself a bit of a pratt there mate; no-one is going to take you seriously again until you get yourself a serious dose of humility, blacked-out indeed! You haven't got any real security need to hide behind such a device and that you did made a big show of your ego, shame 'cos I really enjoyed reading some of the stuff on your site. I had hoped that the Paul behind the site wasn't another know-it all and that the fame hadn't gone to your head. I was wrong.

  • 56.
  • At 11:33 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Charles Barry wrote:

Maybe Guido has a point... maybe he's just jumping on a clichéd bandwagon - that the media is losing its spine.

So what do you propose as an alternative? Should journalists charge into interviews like a bull in a china shop without a trace of tact or finesse?

We should remember that we should not always see the worst in politicians - yes, they are public figures, certainly meriting scrutiny, but surely we can treat them with some respect.

When I watch Newsnight, I expect to see an unbiased interview or report. Being consistently anti-government is far from impartial.

Just remember, that the real place for these difficult and perhaps (for the politicians at least) infuriating questions is the house of commons, and not part of Newsnight - there is a limit to how far you can take the issue in an hour programme.

  • 57.
  • At 11:33 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Lucien Desgai wrote:

I'd have thought the real conspiracy here is the domination of Newsnight by former luminaries (and one illuminary) of the 1980's Federation of Conservative Students. In just the past week the programme has featured Marc-Henri Glendenning, a former FCS chair, and Paul Delaire-Staines, a former leading hanger-on of the ex-student body.

I'm surprised that Nick Robinson (former chair of the rival Young Conservatives) hasn't had more to say on the matter.
Perhaps Newsnight editor Robbie Gibb would like to comment ...
...now what was his role in the 80's?

luv
luc

  • 58.
  • At 11:35 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Alexander Drapkin wrote:

Guido was demolished by Paxman and the Guardian jounalist, he came across merely as a crazed conspiracy theorist, starting with his desire to have his face darkened, and finished by his declaration that he had 'broken stories,' only to be put down by the other journalist over how his 'story' wasn't true. The Blogger's website did nothing to impress me either, he seems to treat his work as an ego motivated conflict between himself and mainstream journalism rather than as any kind of public service.

  • 59.
  • At 11:40 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • john a barrett wrote:

Maybe Paul Staines should get his facts right, one of them being Gordon Brown is not 68 he was born in 1951 whicks makes him 3 years older than me, and I am 53.

  • 60.
  • At 11:56 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • Simon Blanchard wrote:

I think Paxo's slouching, rock and roll language ("that's bollocks") and Michael White's nervy, over the top invective gave the game away: someone is at last saying "Er... excuse me, I think the emperor's got no clothes on!". And they don't like it up 'em, Sir! They don't like it up 'em!

While we are discussing journalistic ethics. We've had years of stories based on unattributable "sources close to..."
and now we have feature reports filed by ostensibly anonymous contributors. Why is this now OK?

  • 62.
  • At 12:00 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • C Dundon wrote:

Totally agree with Andy C.

It's pretty patronising to suggest that viewers/ listeners/ readers are unable to draw their own interpretations from provided statements. I would far rather hear a statement than hear nothing.

There is no objective information, whether from the reporter or the'actor'. Politicians are no more innocent of news manipulation than the news pack - I vote for human weakness and frailty rather than machine conspiracy as a theory. Memory and interpretation are inexact functions, and black and white answers few. So blogs complementing traditional 'news' seems to be a valuable AND rather than a suitable OR.

  • 63.
  • At 12:32 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • M. Baddeley wrote:

I have been a regular viewer of Newsnight since I was 16. I am now 39. Tonight's offering of debate was a complete embarrassment. Jeremy, you have sold out and it shows. You and your Guardian colleague unleashed a personal attack on 'Guido Fawkes' in the manner expected of a facetious toddler. There was no debate.
Michael White should be anticipating a drop in newspaper sales - I and many others have had enough of this predictable, fascist ridicule of anyone who dares to speak their own mind.
And yes, thank goodness for the 'blogosphere' - there is indeed merit and good fortune in that we have our own brains too and they seem to be working, on the whole, more effectively and efficiently than yours. Do not assume for one moment that a paid-for brain usurps an independent one.

  • 64.
  • At 12:33 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Conspiracy theory is such an overused term. It is not "conspiracy" to suggest that journos pussyfoot around MPs because they are afraid their source will dry up. People bandying this term around are morons.

  • 65.
  • At 12:43 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Chris Hall wrote:

Nice fair balanced reporting on display by the BBC. 2 experienced reporters ganging up on a blogger who clearly had little experience of that kind of grilling. Paxmen clearly showed a dislike for a form of journalism that's having a major impact on his viewing figures. If it was 2 labour reps (one of which has some editorial control) vs 1 Tory, you wouldn't get the petty sniping you got there. I thought it was very unproffesional, especially the way the guardian bloke just dismissed valid points (supported by quotes).

Bloggers are just as responsible for the news they post as any other journalist, despite what Paxmen's narrow view of blogging makes him feel. They post a blatent lie, they'll get sued or get served a takedown notice.

  • 66.
  • At 12:51 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • mike wrote:

Er, there's moderation here? And those libellous and untrue comments at #64 are still there?

  • 67.
  • At 01:24 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Derek Phibes wrote:

Response to a couple of points made earlier:

[Charles Barry wrote in post #57:
We should remember that we should not always see the worst in politicians - yes, they are public figures, certainly meriting scrutiny, but surely we can treat them with some respect.]

Yes, we can treat them with some respect, but (from my perspective) only the respect they've earned; I no longer believe that those who hold public office do so out of public duty or through proven ability or merit. I suspect that many people would share my view. Our politicians, and/or maybe the Party political systems, have undermined whatever trust the public may once have placed in politicians or the democratic process; then the politicians had the nerve to accuse the public of political apathy, all the while funding their parties with deals that many would regard as sleazy, and some as criminal. Is it any wonder, with such an elite, that we have criminals suing victims?

So, in the politicians eyes, the public were 'apathetic' when engaged in the largest anti-war march the UK had seen. What example did these 'respectable' politicians provide, by way of contrast?


[Charles Barry wrote in post #57:
Just remember, that the real place for these difficult and perhaps (for the politicians at least) infuriating questions is the house of commons, and not part of Newsnight - there is a limit to how far you can take the issue in an hour programme.]

Ah, maybe you didn't watch the HoC debate (Feb 2003 iirc) the pros and cons of making war on Iraq. The Government front bench stayed for the opening speeches, then disappeared en masse, apart from O'Brien; they returned later for the vote, of course, which they were able to drive through without having to bother listening to our MPs, our political representatives.
(Some good speches, by the way; John Denham especially impressed me.)

And there you have the problem with the HoC; it is now very difficult for it to hold the executive to account.

But all our politicians seem to want media time and public respect; well, if that's what they want, let's make them work for their place in the media spotlight. And let's bring back ridicule - a lot of this crowd deserve it.

  • 68.
  • At 03:25 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Norman mills wrote:

You and mr White must have got into your repective beds in a very relaxed state. What an ego rub you give each last night. "My god , we rule all this, and we do it so well Mike" Don't theose ragamuffins realise thers's lws and clause and stuff that our multi million departmrents protect us from.
You may appear tough jeremy, but your targets are dead easy man....here bunny bunny
Regards
Norman Mills

Oh my. So Newnight was 'ganging up on the poor little blogger'?

Nonsense. If you stick your head above the parapet, attack public bodies and individuals from the comfort of your living room, are journalists supposed then to sit back and treat the claimant with kid gloves?

In the words of Mr Paxman, 'bollocks'. Without fear or favour the bloggers deserve as hard a grilling as all others.

Guido Fawkes' only crime here has been to play with the big boys and he got a bloody nose for his troubles. It was deserved and one trusts it will be a lesson learned.

  • 70.
  • At 07:11 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Tim Quirk wrote:

After his bruising encounter with Messrs. Paxman and White, I hope that the absurd Mr Fawkes realizes that if he wants to play with the big girls he's going to have to learn how to skip.

  • 71.
  • At 08:18 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • REF wrote:

Newsnight should have warned viewers that this interview contained scenes of a disturbing nature.

Putting aside the merits of the debate, this was, (IMO) a black night for the BBC, the sight of the Guardian rottweiler savaging the 'shadow' (JP holding his mate's jacket) was indeed, not a pretty site.

To me, this came across as bullying of the worse kind, had it been a boxing match, the fight would have been stopped.


* john a barrett wrote:

Maybe Paul Staines should get his facts right, one of them being Gordon Brown is not 68 he was born in 1951 whicks(sic) makes him 3 years older than me, and I am 53.

Facts,right?: Staines and White were talking about John Prescott, b.1938

Whoops a daisy!

  • 73.
  • At 09:05 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • J Smith wrote:

I am not an avid watcher of Newsnight only an occasional 'viewer' however last night I was concerned over the behaviour of Mr White and his obvious hatred towards the 'blogger'. Was this another incidence of Mr Big demonstrating his disgust at Mr Average having a say?

Mr White came over as a very bitter twisted angry petty disgusting person, I was shocked to discover he actually works for the Guardian, is this the type of person they believe should be on the payroll, that being the case, I will not be buying or reading the paper again.

He came over as a bully and a jealous man, fed up over not really having a free say in what he 'has' to publish.

So what if someone wants to have their own say, why has Mr White got so much vengence towards the opinion of another.

Paxman should of eaten Mr White alive instead of sitting there visibly shocked by Mr White's very near mental breakdown, another minute and he would have been a trembling dribbling idiot with the men in white coats dragging him away. Shame on you The Guardian Newspaper, how can you justify employing such a bully, if you had any bravery its the blogger you should be publishing not trying to 'gag'!

  • 74.
  • At 09:40 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Lewis Mcleod wrote:

My conclusion from reading all this mail on Guido is that serious viewing public Doesn't mind intelligent debate,however contrary. Two suggestions when any presenter, journalist is interviewing, you could visualy screen his past asssociations, party membership below.

Secondly, why not have two viewers -public-questions asked to PM and opposition leaders. Afterall we all watched the Curtis series "the Trap" and now know about Blair and Isiah Berlin his mentor.
Yes, political questioning is very tame compared to Robin Day > Be named and be damned as long as its the truth to he public you are after.

  • 75.
  • At 10:15 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • dicky wrote:


THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER SONG

There's a blog to beguile
An obstinate isle.
Great britain that heretic nation.
Why press slyly behav'd
in the hopes to be saved
By the help of official information.

On the blog there's ranting enough
And combustible stuff
and scraping the bottom of barrels,
I'll post them together
My mind i'll untether
And begin flamin and pointless quarrels.

When my work is done
And the parliament's gone
And the people are left in the lurch
Things will take their old station
In the curs'd nation-
And I'll be the head of the Church.

  • 76.
  • At 10:17 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Aris wrote:

Guido may have a point.
But, on the other hand, the statements are there to present the official position of any party in order to get the discussion going. Otherwise, the risk is there that the programme is not presenting all facts.

Until Guido walks in the light and shows his face, which is part of assuming the responsibility of his views, his point will stay pretty much in the dark.
If Guido stands for transparency in the media and gutsy questions, then he should start with himself and have the guts to appear on screen.

  • 77.
  • At 10:26 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Ben Bow wrote:

What appalled me was the terrier-like,vindictive,bare-knuckles, conceited, somewhat foppish, persona of Mr White. Morally he felt challenged . Why? Because he was mouthing Blair's Nu-Labor cant. Mr White was the re-incarnation of Dr Goebells ( Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda ). A very useful man for President BLiar! Mr White's tailor seems no longer able to clothe this popinjay in teflon suiting. Suits you, sir! Well done to man in black.

Michael White's "conspiracy theorists" comment was a bit rich, coming from a rep of a media establishment that regularly, without so much as a raised eyebrow, reports on bombs made out of hair bleach and flour.

  • 79.
  • At 11:12 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • C Smith wrote:

Sir Michael White indicated on the programme that he was unaware that John Prescott was 68 and was unaware of Mr Prescott's birthday.

The following article indicates this was a terminological inexactitude:
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/michael_white/2006/06/post_122.html

  • 80.
  • At 11:20 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Is there much to be gained from putting politicians uncomfortably on the spot within our political system?

What they tend to state is what's already published agreed policy, or, failing that, they have to consult Special Advisors or Civil Servants - which takes time, costs money, and usually provides answers which are rarely compressible into reliable sound bites anyway.

Those who expect it to be otherwise presumably don't know (or care to find out) how our system works surely?

  • 81.
  • At 11:32 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • karen TB wrote:

I usually regard both Newsnight and Michael White very highly. I watch Newsnight every evening, but was staggered at the snarling face of Michael White, he has gone down in my estimation. We have to ask why he was so rattled. I used to think he was a measured trustworthy commentator but I see him in a new light. Poor show Michael White and Newsnight.

  • 82.
  • At 11:37 AM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Anne wrote:

Michael White was on the defensive and with good reason. He knows full well the constraints of his profession. The Guardian have been pretty open about its nature as a business. A comment by the editor, Alan Rusbridger (press gazette, Sept 8, 2005);
"If we had to choose between occupying a niche on the left or being nearer the centre, whether you display that through your news reporting or your comment or both, I'm more comfortable saying this is an upmarket serious mainstream newspaper. There's more potential for growth there than taking comfort in political positioning."
Of course the pressures on the newspaper as a business affect its reporting - its not a conspiracy, just market pressure. You ask certain questions not others, solicit comments from some but not others, frame things in certain ways. That's not to dismiss a lot of the great journalism in the paper and I'm not saying GF is therefore the answer - White did the classic thing of swinging to extremes to ridicule GF and his readers - infering that he/we were irrational conspiracy-obsessed extremists. He should see the value in reporting by those without the professional constrainsts he's under.

  • 83.
  • At 12:05 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Lesley Boatwright wrote:

The point surely is that bloggers are free to say exactly what they like. This means that they are not constrained by fear of editorial censorship - or by the need to prove their case. It's up to us to decide whether we find the truth of a matter or paranoia there in the blog. Just like the Daily Mail, really.

Guido Fawkes' choice of a pseudonym was unfortunate. Have you seen the real G Fawkes' signature on his confession after the Inquisitors in the Tower had been at him? Shaky in the extreme. After his going-over by the Inquisitors in the Television Centre, I expect the current GF feels a bit woozy. What follows is hanging, drawing and quartering.

  • 84.
  • At 12:39 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • dan wrote:

Althought I have some sympathy for the view that politicians should be 'empty chaired' when they refuse to be on TV I thought Guido Fawkes was totally out of his depth and made to look very foolish by professional journalist Michael White.

He exposed Guido as a rable rouser rather than someone with views to be taken seriously. That's not to say the internet doesn't have its place, but clearly anomynous wingeing is not in the same league as Newsnight.

  • 85.
  • At 01:26 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Maurice - Northumberland wrote:

Michael White and the Guardian are the equivalent of Pravda.
'The truth as we say it is' brigade, not forgetting that without this Government monies would die the death it should - it is an irrelevant source of anything, other than the advertising for the bean counting Jobs-Worth, and the Politicising of every service arm of the failed concept of Socialism and the Government.

NewsNight could ask the Question:-
'What has Socialism done for anybody anywhere'?

Paxo is at his best when exposing phoneys and self-promoters. This exceedingly silly man with his daft and shady disguise deserved all he got. But the final dagger was thrust, excellently, by the Guardian journo who uttered the coup de grace, implying that Guido Fawkes had stains on his appalling escutcheon.

Bloggery without responsibility is as detrimental to freedom of speech as are cover-ups and spin. All contribute to a climate of opinion where no one any longer believes what anyone says publicly.

I hope Newsnight can lure other idiots into their trap.

  • 87.
  • At 02:29 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Michael Pickles, UK wrote:

The main thing this interview showed is what a thoroughly nasty, low down, self opinionated piece of work Michael White is. He bullied and blustered his way through this interview, assisted by Paxman and also just had to show that he knew Guido Fawkes' real identity. So what if Guido wants to remain anonymous. Its a pity that Michael White doesn't insist in anonymity himself. That would be good for the rest of us. Retire into obscurity Mr White.

  • 88.
  • At 03:10 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Kenneth MacNaughton wrote:

Well done Newsnight and well done Guido! This is the exact point I've been making to the BBC for years about spouting off all the usual government guff and its correspondents having no allegiance to BBC viewers but tons of it for the politicians and other sources.
It has become intolerable and frustrating for viewers that no government minister is available when things go wrong yet whenever there's phoney Mugabe news for example they're queueing up to talk.
I think even Paxo knows at time he's flogging a dead horse but he's got to pay the bills somehow!
The possible answer is to scrap the TV licence fee and force the BBC to stand on its own feet and then perhaps it will not feel the need to kow-tow to its government masters.

  • 89.
  • At 05:00 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Did Michael White conveniently forget he knew Prescott was 68?

See
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/michael_white/2006/06/post_122.html

Michael White did know Prescott was 68.

This illustrates very neatly what Guido's blog is all about, showing up what many people think i.e. we feel we have some barefaced self-interested liars in the media today. Perhaps Guido so rattled Michael White that he (Michael White) appeared to have lied on BBC TV. That Guido was able to do this says it all about his skills and value. Michael White came over to me as a mean, nasty cunning man. I am not saying he is just that is what it felt like to me. I don't read the guardian and have never heard of him before, so this was my first impression of him. Same about knowing of Guido's blog, never read it before. Difference is Guido came across as inexperienced at being interviewed so simply felt sorry for him. Compare that to how I feel Michael White came over. As far as Newsnight is concerned I am ashamed that a Public Broadcaster partly paid for by me (my licence fee) appeared to have set up such an inexperienced person. Guido was badly treated indeed Newsnight behaved no better than a nasty bully.

I'm just enjoying playing 'spot the guidophiles' on this page. Anyone who thinks Staines didn't painfully embarrass himself last night is on a separate agenda.

Btw, here's a nice photo of him
http://www.bloggerheads.com/missing/missing_person.gif

  • 91.
  • At 05:55 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Dee wrote:

Michael Wright may be scathing about Guido Fawkes putting a video of Gordon Brown picking his nose on his web-site, but I for one am grateful that he did, however a revolting display it was.It may seem trivial on the surface to make a joke of it, but when the laughter has died down this video clip of his habits said more about Gordon Brown (or rather allowed him to reveal about himself) than any number of rambling newspapaper articles or TV interviews. PM material eh? Make up your own mind when you have seen the clips. Nose picking, eating the bounty, then wiping your fingers on your tie in public AND on TV is seen as pretty peculiar out here in the real world. Michael Wright was just angry that Gordon Brown and his funny ways have been found out. Many thanks to Guido Fawkes and S J Howard for the clips. Shame on the rest of the media for keeping it quiet. We don't get the Metro newspaper out here in the styx and rely on the national media to keep us up to speed. Planet London indeed!

  • 92.
  • At 09:13 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • chris wrote:

I was really surprised by Michael's reaction. I think he was caught off guard. Anyway, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt because sometimes he is a welcome voice of cynical reason / reasonable cynicism.

It boils down to this - Gramsci is right. The 'it' that politicians and journalists are in is the universal multicultural intellectual class which by definition believes that it is better than non-intellectual tribal classes. Journalists spend their time translating the language of politicians for lay people. The intellectual class speaks in code and it is that code that leads us ever nearer to conservatism and greater exploitation of the non-intellectual tribes. It is a greater sin to accuse a person in polite society of lying than it is to lie - lying is in fact considered rather a skill and those who get away with it are admired and that goes for politics, journalism, academia and all other so-called 'professions' - the only thing they actually profess is their egos and greed.
The challenge for Guido is how to survive without becoming one of them - that is the Catch 22 that Gramsci so cleverly revealed from his prison cell - the rewards of belonging are so great that it is a choice of whether to hang on to principles or to enjoy life. The saddest part of this is that the north western bourgeoisie is probably the least exploitative system the world has yet seen, apart maybe from small communties/tribes here and there. God only knows what the world will be like when India / China /Russia are the dominant empire - we will look back at America and Britain and think "ye gods, we had it good then, even in the working class" - but it's slipping away - after the Olympics London will be just a watering hole for the global elite while all else will have been rounded up into 'local sustainable' communtiies fed by the new land owning multicultural financiers from 'The City'. And before long regulations will be introduced to control the internet and our glimpse of freedom will be just a sweet memory...."remember the 2000s when we just said what we thought to the powers that be?" "Sssh! someone's coming"
Anyway the good news is - Discovery Science has stated categorically that the investigation of Mind being able to connect with other minds in ways heretofore considered paranormal is now acceptible for rational scientific investigation. It's all in the memes - check out Susan Blackmore's website - there's alot to understand about political discourse that can be explained through memetics. We're all just surviving as best we know how but for some to have, others have to give up - that's the lesson politicans need to learn. There's no such thing as trickle down - in fact with all these freeby celebrity bags etc. it's more of a suck-up, the profits have to come from somewhere after all.
But to get back to Guido, it depends, is he a true revolutionary or is he himself part of the virus we call the bourgeoisie spreading the globe looking for people to organise and control?.......must go Hotel Babylon is much more interesting - enjoy the politics journos - who did you see at the last party? really? you don't say and what was she wearing and has her husband been promoted and where are they going for their holidays and how many qualifications did their son get and has his daughter got into xxxx?? etc!

  • 93.
  • At 10:00 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Chris Irby wrote:

The Guido interview was great entertainment - Newsnight has always been varied in its coverage but it was a treat to see it diversifying into slapstick.

  • 94.
  • At 10:32 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Little Black Sambo wrote:

The thing that MAY have been worrying Michael White - and I hope it was - is that the centre of gravity has moved slightly away from professional journalism. I used to watch Newsnight and various other news and political programmes regularly. Since discovering the blogs I now practically NEVER do, and I know there are lots of us. When I go back to Newsnight - as I did specially to see this interview - I am struck by the pomposity of the professionals: as though the news belongs to them and we are allowed to know what they choose to tell us, and as they interpret it.

  • 95.
  • At 01:16 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Nicky Wilson wrote:

If I want the news I go the BBC.

If I want the real news I go to Newsnight first and then the Today programe second.

Anyone who has spent any time around the world in the major democracies KNOWS that if you want any news the BBC is the best overall by a wide margin and it gives it to you quickly and incisively, without the type of terrible spin and constant distortion you get in say the notorious Telegraph or the almost as bad Guardian.

In the UK print media the FT provides the best alternative followed by The Times. Of the international print media The New York Times is so verbose and so full of adverts it takes ages to page thru, though if you look at its quality it did sack someone caught making up stories. And the Washington Post is not far behind- and a bit too involved in the DC beltway circuit.

(Interestingly, the UK Daily Telegraph actually hired someone, Boris Johnson in fact, for making up a story and quotes!! And this explains just why it is the best piece of propaganda any political party could have on its side as all its lowly eduicated readership votes en masse like sheep. It is the inheritor of Goebbels)

So Newsnight gets my vote, even if sometimes a Minister or MP cannot appear...

May we all appreciate Newsnight and the BBC even if it does occasionally stuff up wildly, as the Today programme did over the amateurish rookie Gilligan's shambles...

  • 96.
  • At 06:59 PM on 01 Apr 2007,
  • Joseph, Maastricht, The Netherlands wrote:

I watched the Newsnight edition, and I wished to express my outrage at the behaviour of Michael White, as a reader of the Guardian I was disgusted with his attitude, this is not the sort of behaviour I expected from such a normally balanced person.

Normally I would never agree with some of the comments published above, however, Newsnight did nothing to disprove some of the claims made about unfair bias towards Labour, this claim of bias seems to be getting stronger and stronger, yet the BBC seems to take a perverse delight in giving ammunition to the Daily Mail/Express readers.

For me the programme was an own goal for Newsnight and hopefully a wake up call to some Journalists that being rude is not acceptable.

  • 97.
  • At 05:20 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Frank wrote:

The criticisms about the reading of statements seem to assume that the viewer is not bright enough to realize that by presenting a statement the minister or government official in question is refusing to be cross-examined. Personally, I think most viewers do realize this and take this into consideration when making a judgment about the statement in question.

Furthermore, and I don't like jumping to the defense of government officials or politicians, but it must also be remembered that when these people speak, they cannot represent their personal views, but must, rather, represent official government or party views. Therefore, there may be situations where either the policy is under review or has not been finalized, and it would not be appropriate for a view to be presented.

Of course, there is always the possibility that there may be attempts to hide information, and as such, I personally tend to be skeptical of written statements submitted rather than having a live representative, but as I have written, there may be legitimate reasons for these actions.

  • 98.
  • At 08:05 PM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Banks Being Greedy,

Quote from the BBC 2,s The Money Program to which many millions of people send their gratitude.. Thank you BBC 2.

This problem arises from the banks using poverty as a source of profit—a great deal of profit. The bank commission of BBC 2's "The Money Programme", which included eminent business academics and a former senior NatWest executive, concluded that the absolute maximum administrative cost to a bank of processing a bounced cheque—the most labour-intensive of the processes in question—is £4.50. For all other items, such as unauthorised overdrafts or bounced direct debits, the commission concluded that the absolute maximum, in this electronic age where everything is done automatically through a computer, is £2.50. However, the average charge is approximately £30. Some are as high as £38, and they are charged every time people make what the banks consider to be an unauthorised transaction. That is a substantial profit for the banks, which rake in some £4.5 billion, without even taking account of the similar examples that the Federation of Small Businesses found in business banking accounts.
Almost all of what is charged is profit, not costs. It is profit at the expense of hard-up customers. It is the biggest bank robbery in Britain, and it involves the banks robbing their own customers, especially their poorest ones. A common response when the practice is described is that there should be a law against it; but there is a law, or there are laws. First, under common law, disproportionate and punitive charges have always been illegal. In layman's terms, if a consumer breaks the contract the other party—the bank, in this case—cannot impose a charge greater than the reasonable estimate of its loss. That common law has been unchanged for 100 years, and numerous cases in the higher courts have confirmed it. However, we can go further. The rights in question are protected by statutory instrument. The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 made that clear.

  • 99.
  • At 05:07 PM on 26 Sep 2007,
  • paulus wrote:

Newsnight 25/9/O7 - Paxman interviewing the particularly bright new Foreign Secretary : " don't patronize me ! "
I have been a Paxman fan for years and was puzzled why he of all people would not only degrade himself, but also the BBC by treating the British Foreign Secretary as though he was a mere schoolboy.
Is it any wonder why many senior politicians are often elsewhere emoployed whenever BBC television wants to interview them ..?

  • 100.
  • At 01:48 AM on 27 Sep 2007,
  • paulus wrote:

Is it not interesting that each time your employees (Newsnight) interview someone who is in any way more superior, they become irritable to the extend it affects the interview and thus at the expense of the viewers, who merely expect presenters to be sufficiently professional to ignore any personal vendettas...
Examples: Salmond - Wark / Gavin - Galloway / Paxman - British Foreign Secretary (25/9/O7)

  • 101.
  • At 01:17 AM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • paulus wrote:

Knowing one or two things about tax relief and accountancy, I am puzzled where the Tories get some of their figures from. Initial interviews with shadow MP's are not totally convincing. Concerning the current position of the Conservative party, it is tempting to suspect that poll figures may be the most accurate and even relevant ones.
It must indeed be depressing to realize Gordon Brown was not the anticipated soft touch ten years waiting for.. It probably even surprised Blair...
I have seen politicians come and go for 5O years, but from what I have seen of him over the past few months, he might become a very formidable P.M.indeed :down-to-earth, efficient, in control. That much we do know about Gordon Brown !

  • 102.
  • At 04:20 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • paulus wrote:

It is already becoming clear that Gordon Browns real "enemy" are not sitting on the opposite side in the Commons, but consist of some old colleagues who are becoming increasingly impatient spending still more time home with their families.. They did not waste a second by using one almost fabricated "error" to blacken the first genuinely devoted and committed P.M. the Party had for a long time. Perhaps surprisingly they are all loyal Blairites, because some of them did not exactly prosper under Tony... Considering the way it is organized, one wonders who is behind this anti-Brown campaign...Fortunately most people are fair-minded and perceptive enough to know that a) making errors is mortal, and b) the P.M. could not have been more impressive the way he dealt with the foot and m, floods, terrorists, N.Rock and now the postal dispute. Perhaps not a man with charismatic glitter, but certainly one who cares.
Paulus

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