Talk about Newsnight

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Wednesday, 6 February, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Feb 08, 07:03 PM

British soldier in Musa QalaIs Afghanistan going to be the remaking or breaking of NATO? The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met the prime minister in London today to discuss strategy in Afghanistan. British Generals are calling for troop reinforcements, meanwhile the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates was scathing about the ability and willingness of NATO members, other than the US and Britain, to put up forces for Afghanistan. So who is prepared to send more troops to Afghanistan? Mark Urban has been investigating.

US elections
Gavin has moved from New York to Washington, and will be picking over the results of yesterday's "Super Tuesday" primaries. Results are still coming in, but it looks as if John McCain now has an unassailable lead in the Republican race. Gavin has been looking at Senator McCain's Presidential credentials - what is it about the 71 year old who is at odds with his party on many of the key issues that has allowed him to do so well? And what of this talk of a deal with his rival for the nomination - Mike Huckabee?

On the Democrat side - it's looking much tighter. Barack Obama won more states than Hillary Clinton in last night's contest, but they are almost neck-and-neck in the race for delegates. It's possible that no clear winner will emerge until the party convention in August. David Grossman is in California and will be asking when the race for the White House will become clear cut.

Intercept evidence
Meanwhile there seems to be political consensus that the law should be changed so that intercept evidence can be used, in certain circumstances, in courts. But what do the security services make of the government's announcement today? Richard Watson has been investigating.

Shy Keenan
And the story of Shy Keenan's campaign for justice. She was raped and sexually abused by a series of men led by her stepfather from the age of three until she was 14. As a young woman she repeatedly tried to get the authorities to listen to her horrific story, but it was not until she worked with Newsnight on a special investigation into her abuse that she was able to confront her stepfather and secretly film him admitting it. He and two other men were then jailed for a total of 32 years. Since the conviction she has campaigned for the child victims of sexual abuse, and tomorrow her account of her destroyed childhood and the long road to a recovered life will be published - read an extract. She will be live tonight on the programme.

Newsnight book club: Broken by Shy Keenan

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Feb 08, 05:18 PM

Broken by Shy KeenanShy Keenan was systematically raped by her stepfather Stanley Claridge throughout her childhood. When she was just ten she was almost killed by a group of abusers he had sold her to. In a Newsnight special investigation in 2000, she secretly recorded Stanley Claridge admitting the abuse – an admission that led to him and his accomplices being arrested and brought to trial. Shy Keenan’s testimony ensured he and two other men were imprisoned.

Founder - with Sara Payne – of Phoenix Survivors, Shy Keenan now campaigns for justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Her book Broken is her story - of how she survived being abused and fought to bring those responsible to justice. The following extract is from chapter 30, Why Me?, which details the trial.

BROKEN by Shy Keenan is published by Hodder & Stoughton in hardcover (£12.99) on 7 February

Continue reading "Newsnight book club: Broken by Shy Keenan"

Two things I hate about British media coverage of the US elections

  • Michael Crick
  • 6 Feb 08, 03:12 PM

Hillary woos the middle classesFirst, the use of the term “middle class voters”. The trouble is that “middle class” in America means a very different group of people to the British “middle class”. In the USA “middle class” essentially means “middle income” – the average Joe – people we in Britain might term “lower middle class” or “upper working class”. But the “middle class” in Britain are essentially the top half of the population - the better off, people in professional jobs, who own their own homes and so on. This difference explains why American politicians, Democrat and Republican, frequently win cheers for saying “we’ve got to do more for middle class voters”, whereas any politician who said that in Britain would be taking a huge risk. They would be condemned as elitist, and accused of neglecting the less well-off. So talking of "middle class" people in the the American context becomes confusing and meaningless for a British audience. It's better, if talking of the American "middle class", to use the term "middle income".

Second, can we please stop referring to Hillary Clinton merely as “Hillary”? Calling politicians by their Christian names implies an element of favour or intimacy. It’s dangerous and should always be avoided by independent journalists and especially broadcasters. Would we have called the 1980 presidential race a contest between Jimmy Carter and Ronnie? Of course not. OK, one needs to distinguish Hillary Clinton from her husband, so she should be called “Hillary Clinton” or “Mrs Clinton”. And the same argument applies to the Labour and Conservative contenders in the current London mayoral election, who are often referred to in the media as “Ken” (Livingstone) and “Boris” (Johnson). It’s terribly unfair on the Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick and all the other candidates.

Prospects: Wednesday, 6 Februrary, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Feb 08, 10:34 AM

Today's programme producer is Carol Rubra - here is her early email to the production team.

Super Tuesday
We'll spend a chunk of the programme looking at what happened on Super Tuesday. Gavin will co-present from Washington, Kirsty is here, while David and Ben are in LA (watch David's latest videoblog on the Newsnight US election website).
We have a pre-recorded interview with Stan Greenberg and a live discussion.

But there are other stories around too. Let's talk in the meeting about which we should do and how:
Afghanistan - a "critical week" with more troops being announced today and new figures on the opium trade;
Intercept evidence to be used in trials;
Proposals to change law on under-age drinking in public places;
and we have an interview with Shy Keenan.

What would you like to see on the programme?

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