BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

If you live by gunpowder...

Peter Barron | 10:51 UK time, Friday, 30 March 2007

Newsnight logoThose of us who inhabit the world of old media have learned the hard way to respect the power of the blogger. Over the past couple of years many an error, example of hypocrisy or attempted cover-up has been searingly exposed by the bloggers, and a few careers sunk.

This week, however, we learned that when it comes to making and breaking reputations there's life in the old media dog yet.

We'd asked the fearless political blogger Guido Fawkes to make a film for Newsnight on what he sees as the failings of mainstream political reporting.

It was a thought-provoking piece (watch it here) and as soon as we saw it we decided we'd like to debate the issues with Guido and a Westminster lobby journalist.

guido203.jpgThis was no trick, but at that point Guido was in a corner. His film had been an exhortation to programmes like Newsnight aggressively to empty-chair politicians who refuse to debate. While he himself prefers to operate in the shadows he could therefore hardly refuse, and a poll of his site's readers urged him overwhelmingly to appear.

The result, as many of the comments on his site quickly pointed out, was a bit of car crash. Guido's keyboard-orientated pyrotechnics were no match for Michael White of the Guardian's verbal swordsmanship.

But hats off to Guido for entering our world. He'll be back.


  • 1.
  • At 11:09 AM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Michael Francis wrote:

no match for Michael White of the Guardian's verbal swordsmanship.

Maybe Guy Fawkes didn't shine but Michael White appeared tetchy and uncomfortable. Paxo, of course, was on his home ground.

  • 2.
  • At 11:16 AM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Mark E wrote:

I state now that I didn't watch the show, so I am not sure how things went. However, you must be very proud. Putting someone who is very unlikely to have had training in live TV debate against someone who has probably worked in the mainstream media for years and as a Guardian (remember other newspapers ARE available) writer has probably appeared on BBC shows more times then some presenters.

So what is next weeks match up? A new born kitten against a hungry tiger in the fight to the death?

However, it was brave of you to allow an "outsider" to make a piece that seems to attack the way you do things.

If you want to make or break reputations go after the tigers NOT the kittens.

  • 3.
  • At 11:39 AM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Dennis L wrote:

Nevertheless his point remains that Newsnight presenters frequently read out government communiques. This is craven. You should not compromise with the government's refusal to appear. It is not good enough to say - as Jeremy Paxman did - that it is done to fill in time when you are short of material.

  • 4.
  • At 11:53 AM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Gerry S wrote:

I did not think that White had such a convincing victory as some of you suggest. True, Guy Fawkes was not very articulate and not a polished professional but this made him seem more authentic. Paxman looked lost and embarrassed when White tried to collude with him callling him Paxo and telling him how great he was at the start of the interview. This was the very thing Fawkes is saying is wrong, everybody in a comfy bed together - colluding for mutual benefit. White just came across as a bully, angry that someone was questioning the status quo that he is ensconced in. Guy Fawkes highlighted an important issue and should be commended. Lets get tough on cosiness before ennui drains us all - Yawn!

  • 5.
  • At 12:02 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Dinah Glover wrote:

I thought Michael White came across as an appalling person, not only is he extemely partisan, but he is obviously extremely scared of bloggers for some reason and in particular Guido. After that interview I wouldn't trust a word written by Michael White.

  • 6.
  • At 12:02 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Snorri Birgisson wrote:

Michael White’s swordsmanship is incredible but why did he seem so shaken? Maybe my perception is wrong but it seemed to me that he could barely contain his rage. Isn´t it interesting that the internet gives so much power to amateurs that the professionals feel truly threatened no matter how good they are? And Michael White is certainly one of the best commentators around.

Could Newsnight investigate the rising age of the amateurs in all fields? Politics is not the only field affected by the internet and new technologies.

Snorri Birgisson
in Iceland

  • 7.
  • At 12:12 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Kendrick Curtis wrote:

Let's not forget your own treachery in refusing to air Mark Thomas's report on the Hinduja brothers' (alleged) involvement in illegal arms exporting, Mr. Barron.

  • 8.
  • At 12:14 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Chris H wrote:

How very smug. Are you sure you've rubbed enough salt into that wound? Not terribly endearing, at all.

  • 9.
  • At 12:25 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • T Edgar wrote:

All this makes me think how - despite our obsession with presentation and slick communication, that eloquence does not automatically make one correct. We lose out when we put presentation above content.

dennis - this is what i said on the blog a couple of days back

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

I should put my cards on the table right away: I've often enjoyed Michael White's columns but am unimpressed by Guido Fawkes's blog (there are other political blogs that are so much better). But ...

You say:

"Guido's keyboard-orientated pyrotechnics were no match for Michael White of the Guardian's verbal swordsmanship."

I couldn't watch the programme, since I live in the US, but it seems evident from the numerous comments on the Guido Fawkes site that, while Fawkes himself came across pretty badly, White came across even worse -- not as a master of "verbal swordsmanship" but as someone reduced to bluster and petty school-playground insult. The only person who seems to have come out of the encounter with much credit is Jeremy Paxman.

Peter, can you say more about the most odd part of the interview, namely the literal 'hiding in shadow'? Guido writes on his own blog: 'the live interview was definitely a mistake and against my better judgement, as was the in-the-shadows idea of the Newsnight editor.' I assumed, when I started reading your piece, that you were going to explain this... but you didn't.

What made you do it? Was it a condition of his appearance?

  • 13.
  • At 01:10 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • vaughan wrote:

michal white came across as a gov toady after a seat in house lords without having to pay tony and his cronys.
It was great that guido got on air and more people will get to know about his web site.That is whear the news is when the gov give you an empty chair.

More power to GUIDO, feel sory for Paxo his hands are tied.

  • 14.
  • At 01:22 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • C Smith wrote:

" match for Michael White of the Guardian's verbal swordsmanship"

Or an old man, sorry Sir, with an incredibly selective memory and an inexplicably vindicitive attitude (talking about modes of dress and pesonal wealth of Mr Fawkes) V's a new representative of the blogosphere.

"Sir Michael White: I haven't been to his (John Prescott's) 68th birthday party, I didn't even know he was 68. Carrying on like that at 68, eh? Pretty shocking. I don't know what you're talking about...." (my addition).

Sir Michael's article below confirms he was with Mr Prescott on his 68th birthday.

I am the same age as Sir Michael White (61) and note with interest that Guido Fawkes has published his apology after making a mistake wheras Sir Michael has not.

Sir Michael is the past, belongs to the last century, and as far as I am concerned now has no credibility and deserves no respect after that flawed performance.



At least get somebody who understands it and is under 40 so an intelligible discussion can take place.

Sir Michael should certainly return any fee he might have been given by yourselves.

If you chose Sir Michael it was an incredibly inappropriate choice which you should not repeat.

  • 15.
  • At 01:33 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Roland Deschain wrote:

I couldn't watch the programme, because I live in Scotland.

I had first entitled this in my blog 'Some parapets are not worth poking over', but hey, it's Friday.

First up there was this:

'Guido Fawkes apologises to BBC's Political Editor' x2

To which I wrote in this:

'Nothing much worth commenting on here any further, bar the reassuring notion that it seems even the Newsnight team is not above a duplicate post.'

Or... (SFX: sinister music) did they think it was so good they posted it twice????

Now it has been corrected and a bewlidering array of switched links have lost it, at least for me (my bad), I have had a further mooch at it all and have decided to change my mind about the not commenting.... because I can.

Especially as there seems to be gloating... a lot of it. And I'm unsure if the amount is warranted. It's coming over more like a big media happy slapping, vlog-mail and all.

So....'This week, however, we learned that when it comes to making and breaking reputations there's life in the old media dog yet....'

If you choose your foe and battleground well enough. If he was dumb enough to accept the set-up (in any and all forms that phrase can take), more fool him. But pride comes before the fall.

Thing is, until now I had never heard of him... and he's the number one political blogger?

The whole smacks of set up. First choose a rubber dinghy bobbing about in a big sea and make an example of the poor sods inside to send a message about the teeth the old dog has to warn off others. One guy in a hostile studio, with the guys behind the camera and hands to edit slider on one side... AND in control?! You must be sooooo proud.

Who can remember the points the poor sap made? I can't. With luck, and YouTube, it's out there so if one did need to debate it with the full BBC team, and all their archive and edit and research resources, a lone warrior 'might' have some chance of recalling facts and tweaking them to suit. In the cold hard light of the next days some blog responders (congrats for running those I see... but, all who have written?) seem less than impressed.

In passing, by the by, I think you have not answered Dennis' main point, that JP admitted that what they did was not 'optimal' professionally, but was done to fill some time. Post Blue Peter, the dictates of time seem to be throwing Aunty off the professional rails a lot these days.

Care to explain why this little blog note...:

'Well that makes.. two of us! Well tucked away little devil of a blog this... wonder why?

As I wrote to a paper the other day in response to a piece about broadcast standards:

'You want unreality [Rest above].'

Tick reply here:

1) It wasn't us
2) It wasn't a problem
3) If it was so what?

And if you get pressed...

4) It was not perhaps the best way to do it
5) We are addressing this at all levels
6) An urgent review is under way

But whatever happens, no one is responsible!'

...didn't make it to a Newswatch blog... yet (who's to wonder if it may pop in soon, after all these days):

Maybe the BBC thought it was 'unsuitable?

Getting back to Mr. Fawkes, from what I recall he had some fair points. Certainly in written form in the blurbs that got me to watch (not his blog, which I personally don't find to my tastes). A few on this blog know that when it does suit, the moderator will not play ball, by taking his away, along with the playing field. A point admitted by the eminence gris, but perhaps not with the irony one would have hoped. He of course would not get to smug to the camera as much, one suspects, if he was too nasty to the guys sending the taxi and big upping his paper.

And having a 'gotcha' on the facts is, sadly, a bit of a bummer for any erstwhile critic. But just how many blogs and post links did you guys wheel out to crow about GF's faux pas?

It's not like the BBC, or Mr. White, is immune from some sloppy stuff (accepting, of course, that you are all very busy). Obviously the 'I don't know Mr. Prescott's age' thing was just being absent-minded, and not worth harping on or hounding.

But oo, guess who just sent me this:

"This was a genuine mistake resulting from the producer misreading [your] e-mail and not a deliberate attempt to doctor our viewers' opinions. The mistake was made in the initial e-mail summary compiled by the producer and sent to the presenters and hence was repeated twice during the programme. Of course we should have read the e-mail more carefully but I can see how the mistake was made as [you say] the exact opposite of what [you] really think[s] - which is only revealed by the line "yeah right" right at the end - so while not excusing it - I can see how the error was made."
I trust this proves satisfactory. Please be assured that your comments have been registered and are available to the 'Breakfast' production staff.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact the BBC with your e-mail.

Now, do I accept this? They don't read information thoroughly. Are incapable of assessing tone of voice from the written word and print only what they want to see, regardless of what it may convey. And defend running one line out of three in this way (also ignoring the first, which was as equally negative as my sadly over sarcastic 'Yeah, right'; a phrase JP would never use in rebuttal on Newsnight, I'm sure, he said.. sarc...) with a load of waffle and spin and insincere apology with no hint of any chance to take this further should I wish to. And these guys were not under the spotlight, live!

Nah... I think I'll go with what the masters of journalistic integrity would do, and trump... no... no, I won't. I'll simply publish in full and let the people make their own minds up.

Me, I'll just keep on offering information as accurately and objectively and attributed as I can, with the odd bit of subjective opinion lobbed in to show I do have them. And why not?

It's... more honest, less hypocritical... and safer, I do believe

Don't like it? Well, I'm sure you can sort it all in post:)

  • 17.
  • At 02:44 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Mr Wallace wrote:

The charge that Guido fawkes made, that the empty chair statement is not good enough or whatever, well i have always viewed the empty chair statement as a dig at the politician or other representative as a "bottle out merchant" for not making an appearance on newsnight, fearing difficult questions from pax,wark or gavin . What else can newsnight do really when they run a report but have no one to discuss it due to "no one was available for comment but they have issued a statement",clearly its one - nil for newsnight when that ever happens, obvious that one.

No doubt Guido fawlks has been licking his wounds since that "car crash"(car crash? more like an asteroid impact) Guido Fawlks was out of his comfort zone and was torn apart with ease and without mercy. I cringed and felt ever so sorry for Guido, but how many of us would appear on newsnight(even if blacked out) and be taken to task by paxman or a seasoned hack such as Michael White, not many i would imagine and whilst we can come on here and question or debate stories of the day, an invitation from newsnight to appear in a TV studio with paxman,"Mr Wallace, would you like to come on newsnight and get on your soap box" er no thanks,but i can give you a statement,can you wait a while until my hands stop shaking though.
Guido's virgin moment and his comprehensive newsnight kick in the "Niagara falls" is going to be a necessary part of his evolution into the world of political journalism, not unlike a budding comedian, who's first stand up set, goes disastrously terrifyingly bad, with hecklers and bottles flying. Ive still got the scars.

Nice to see the newsnight websit have posted a gracious comment in their victory with Guido and pulled out the knife and dabbed his brow with a bloody cloth, magnanimous in victory as the good and decent general would do...
Mike White is still a bit of a loon though, well he does write for the Guardian, er and i think paxman has written for the Guardian on occasions, well its not a perfect world is it, well i never said it was.

In response to Simon Dickson's comment - the only way we were able to persuade Guido Fawkes to make a film for Newsnight was to allow him to appear in disguise. Once we saw the film it became clear that the issues he raised needed to be debated. He was very reluctant to appear live but was persuaded to do so only by us offering to again disguise his identity. We used a graphic backing of his website (emailed to us by Guido) in order to liven up the dark Millbank studio. We did not, in anyway, encourage him to disguise his identity. It was the only way we were going to get him to appear live.

  • 19.
  • At 03:32 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

BBC doesn't conduct political interviews. What passes for interviews falls into two categories. Platforms for those it agrees with to orate unchallenged from, and opportunities to debate and attack those it disagrees with. The consistancy of it is remarkable. A typical example is the so called interviews with those involved with the invasion of Somalia last year. The representative of the Islamic Courts Revolution, the group allied with Al Qaeda were virtually unchallenged in their legitimacy in governing Somalia and there was not one suggestion that the imposition of Islamic Sharia law was too high a price to pay for preventing the chaos and violence of the prior situation nor that it was not democratically elected. On the other hand, both the representatives of the Provisional Somalia government and the Ethopian troops whom they invited in to help expel the Islamists were engaged in sharp confrontations in which their legitimacy was challenged. There was no background analysis of the implications for a state friendly to Al Qaeda explored, no context of the wider war against terror, no anything of real substance to help the audience understand the significance of events these people were involved in.

Nick Robinson has no fear of what he might say about an interviewee, at least not sometimes. He had no fear insulting the President of the United States openly, publicly, right to his face during a press conference. In China, a comparable display might have gotten BBC thrown out of the country for good the way it had as a result of its reporting in Zimbabwe. In some places it might get him beheaded. Thailand perhaps? He knows who will tolerate his nonsense and who won't. That's the extent of his political savvy as far as I can tell.

Do bloggers make a big difference to journalism? Ask Dan Rather who reported late in the last American presidential campaign a document proported to be proof that George Bush had evaded military service he had claimed. Bloggers not only proved it was a forgery, but that Dan Rather himself was utterly incompetent since the fraudulence of the document was so obvious that many bloggers spotted it and reported it on the internet within fifteen minutes of its initial broadcast. (The document was clearly printed in a font which didn't exist yet at the time it was supposed to have been authored.) It exposed Rather and CBS as willing agents and toadies of the Kerry campaign. Rather was forced to retire in disgrace prematurely but it came as no surprise to me since I have believed that almost all the so called TV journalists for the major American broadcast television networks are largely incompetent. Walter Cronkite's interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn was an embarrassingly incontestable proof of that.

The only question I have is how much post production editing does BBC do (in the name of fitting into time constraints of course) when one of its confrontational interviews goes very badly and the interviewee makes BBC look like utter fools? It doesn't matter, even with the editing, I see through it most of the time anyway. There is little I see or hear on BBC that I actually believe without a reliable corroborating source to back it up. I know what propaganda which is in fact ersatz journalism looks like and how to tell it from the real thing. I think so does Guy Fawkes.

  • 20.
  • At 03:56 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Ron wrote:

Where did you get the verb "empty-chair" from? It does not show in any (free) dictionary I could locate online. I find it ugly, awkward and unnecessary. What ever happened to the BBC "word police"?

  • 21.
  • At 07:17 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Carl Eve wrote:

I think Mark E should have a look at the kind of blog Paul "Guido" Staines runs.

If you choose to play with the bigger boys and choose to be a mouthy bugger, then you may find yourself on the end of a arse-whupping.

Guido proved himself to be exactly what he is, all mouth, no trousers.

Sadly, for some unfathomable reason, he was held up as the peak of political blogging. God knows which researcher fell upon him (probably from reading like minded broadsheets who regularly fawn over him) because there are far more, and far better political bloggers out there to choose from - and who wouldn't have made such an arse of themselves.

I wonder if White would have shown his anger in quite the same way if he'd had a vested interest in retaining future access to Fawkes :-)

First of all, it needs to be noted that Paul Staines is a hypocrite of the highest order, and not someone who can point the finger over a lack of honest and transparent engagement with any credibility.

Secondly, the unknown number of ditto-heads desperately running around town right now, defending Staines on specious grounds using the same spin and sock-puppetry that they claim to despise show an equal level of hypocrisy.

Finally, those who are shouting specifically about White's difficulty with his recollection of Prescott's age need to be reminded that this does not place White in the same room as Prescott and a rather large cake... and that White's response could be interpreted as an on-the-spot lie *or* an error (i.e. in response to something Staines threw at him).

Oh, and there was another number that Staines threw at White...

Paul Staines said: "I mean the Guardian made me Political Commentator of the Year... 30,000 of their readers thought I was the best political commentator."

Oh, really?

As can be seen here...,,1443383,00.html

... while over 30,000 users of the Guardian website (not all of whom could be classified as Guardian readers) appear to have voted in the relevant category, only 33% of them appear to have voted for Staines (i.e. regarded him to be "the best political commentator" out of those nominated).

Also, the word 'appear' appears because many nominees, including Staines, expressed doubts about the reliability of the voting process at the time. Staines actually asked to be withdrawn from the competition because of these doubts (but didn't appear to have many complaints after winning).

Regardless of this, 'Guido' presented an inflated version of figures that he regarded to be meaningless in the first place... to support a somewhat tangential case before White and Paxman brought him back to the central point... i.e. the central point that Staines had come on the show to discuss in the first place!

Lie or error? You be the judge...

(Before you answer, keep in mind that it is not White who has the difficulty with numbers/recollection here, but Staines... and Staines is having that difficulty with material he almost certainly prepared in advance for his confrontation with that Guardian journalist.)

Guido Fawkes/Paul Staines made some fair and reasonable points, which Michael White just ignored. He seemed more interested in attacking Fawkes/Staines dress sense.

For an amateur that was a better than the average piece of reportage. In the studio live you massacred someone who clearly was not comfortable and didn't want to be on TV. He at least came on and faced Paxman, unlike the politicians who chicken out.

White's vitriol revealed far more about him than it did about Paul Staines.

  • 25.
  • At 10:08 PM on 31 Mar 2007,
  • Hugh Waldock wrote:

I take the points on board the Mr Fawkes was making, but from a practical point of view although mainstream journalists may be interested in exposing things, (taking your very own Justin Rowlatt as an example) they have to pay rent and other bills, they have other responsibilities and mouths to feed as well. If it´s the difference between a bonus for an exclusive which could mean a family holiday or destroying a contact the clever man would surely take the money.

Whether this leads to corruption or not is simply impossible to tell without being on the inside and when your inside you will always be criticised from outside as being a stitch up. I have sympathy with the BBC who I think try to do the best job they can under the circumstances but now that Gideo has entered your world Peter, the question has to be whose world does he belong to now, you the press or us the bloggers.

It´s a very fine line to tread.

  • 26.
  • At 01:17 PM on 01 Apr 2007,
  • Dottie Magill wrote:

Wow! That film segment was a really big surprise to me. I would never have believed that such accomplished journalists would have been so threatened by the blogosphere. They genuinely seemed like they were - I can't believe it. What the?

  • 27.
  • At 01:34 PM on 01 Apr 2007,
  • GUY FOX wrote:


  • 28.
  • At 04:40 PM on 01 Apr 2007,
  • simple fact wrote:

What does Peter Barron think of his colleague Nick Robinson's childish insults directed at Guido?

  • 29.
  • At 01:00 AM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • Harry wrote:

Michael White did extremely well in my opinion. He managed to show up this appalling waster as an appalling waster without actually calling him an appalling waster.

I think takes quite a bit of skill to do.

I think Guido should be rather thankful he was treated so fairly, as a punch in the face would've been far more appropriate.

  • 30.
  • At 01:53 AM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • Magellan wrote:

I think the interview showed Guido up to be uniformed, unprepared, and extremely immature. Good on you.

  • 31.
  • At 07:57 AM on 02 Apr 2007,

Each protagonist should be able to play to his own strengths in expressing his views.The media, in laying down the gladatorial challenge, have succomed to the glorification of their merciless power of exposure for good, and bad. After all, the license fee is paid, so bring on the victims, expose them to the elements and let them be destroyed!

  • 32.
  • At 01:10 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • J & J Krankie ...Scotland wrote:

Peter Barron
Can you mention this at your next production meeting.

It would be a bit fanabidozi if Paxo would wear a kilt sometimes .. or even Michael Crick, now he has been promoted. Maybe both ?

We up North just feel we are being discriminated against

And we never ever got our "Newsnight Anniversary wristbands" up here either..

Lol The Krankies x x

  • 33.
  • At 04:19 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • M wrote:

1) Can you be clear what exactly you feel that you have achieved by this interview, perhaps for clarity without using metaphors in your answer?

2) I can see why people are attracted to politics for its entertainment and conflict value but do you really feel that you are observing the cutting edge of significant social change?

3) Have you considered that the lack of interest by young people is actually an intelligent lack of interest in those who aren't even able to express their decisions or choices in any tangible form? The total cost of not making and communicating actual decisions must be immense, stifling the development of this country.

  • 34.
  • At 04:31 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Of course there's life "in the old dog"!

The BBC is staffed by educated professionals who understand the rules.

Amateur bloggers with delusions of grandeur will never be able to compete with that.

I'll read Blogs for entertainment only.

If I want news, then its back to the old guard. You cannot trust a Blogger's perspective.

I was delighted to see both the piece and the interview. 'Guido' evidently wasn't prepared for the live onslaught. I can't say Michael White was the most convincing opponent, but it was lively and entertaining viewing that can only serve to fuel Guido's notoriety.

It's a pity, however, that Michael White was so scathing about bloggers more generally.

As for empty-chaired, I subscribe to the principle that new words and usages are part of a language change process that has served us well for thousands of years. Good riddance to the 'word police'. We all know what was meant, and that's the key thing - communicating a point.

  • 36.
  • At 08:47 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Jeremy said, "As for empty-chaired, I subscribe to the principle that new words and usages are part of a language change process that has served us well for thousands of years. Good riddance to the 'word police'. We all know what was meant, and that's the key thing - communicating a point."

Shame the BBC and other major news channels don't commuicate the same point instead of refusing to admit that all sides use 'propaganda' and not just the ones our government don't agree with.

Bloggers in my view should keep reporting the duality that exists between mainstream news and the truth, which too often seperate in the name of state and government interests.

It was a very fine piece of television – not the shoddy video piece by Paul Staines, but the studio debate afterwards.

Frankly it showed Staines to be nothing short of laughable – his pathetic conspiracy theories were all the more exposed when he was forced to actually debate with someone. White clearly found Staines annoying, but then I can see why – Staines’ smug sense of superiority and self-declared possession of the moral high-ground is infuriating, and as White points out (most) newspapers have to be much more careful with libel.

To those who complain that The Guardian were the paper chosen to be represented, this does make sense, as it was The Guardian who exposed Paul Staines’ pseudonym. (,,1404308,00.html). Of course, being the mature man that Staines is, he continued to deny it for two years despite it being widely known – you can understand why Paxman found his insistence on disguise (something he curiously implies was a Newsnight decision on his blog, although he made no such complaints during the show) to be slightly baffling.

  • 38.
  • At 10:54 AM on 05 Apr 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

"Guido's keyboard-orientated pyrotechnics were no match for Michael White of the Guardian's verbal swordsmanship."

"You're a prat"

Wow. If the BBC thinks that's verbal swordsmanship then you really are a bunch of no hopers.
As for White, his see, hear, speak no evil about nuLab is about par for the course for a has-been socialist hack. Time for the BBC to stop squandering the licence tax on White's appearance fees.

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.