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That Salmond interview

Peter Barron | 11:12 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2007

We've had a lot of complaints about Kirsty's interview last night with the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

Newsnight logoSome questioned the premise of the interview - that the new SNP government appeared to be picking a fight with London - others thought that Kirsty's line of questioning was too aggressive and therefore discourteous. But all agreed that the way the interview ended was, to say the very least, unfortunate.

The encounter was indeed intense and at times tetchy - Mr Salmond is always a robust and challenging interviewee - but for most of the interview I don't think we strayed outside the boundaries of what viewers expect or find acceptable in a Newsnight interview.

In the last minute, however, that changed. As the programme producer tried to wind up the interview because of time pressure we cut off Mr Salmond in a way that came across as rude and dismissive. We have apologised to Mr Salmond for that.


  • 1.
  • At 11:25 AM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • seamus mcneill wrote:

No, the "encounter" was'nt "tetchy"; Ms Wark was. You should apologise not only to Mr salmond but to viewers for the unprofessional rudeness she displayed during the whole of the interview.

Her "treatment of the Scottish Offiec Minister was only marginally better.

  • 2.
  • At 11:30 AM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Russell S Galbraith wrote:

We lodged a complaint immediately after the broadcast about the interview. Kirsty Wark appeared to be more interested in aggressively attacking the messenger rather than pursuing the truth about the message. We think that it would be appropriate that Newnight tonight, and Ms Wark in particular apologies to Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister live on air, at the beginnig of the programme.

  • 3.
  • At 12:06 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • mike wrote:

As someone who voted SNP at the recent election I wouldn't want to get too carried away with criticising the way Newsnight handled the Alex Salmond interview last night. However, I'm pleased to hear that an apology has been made for the way it was terminated rather abruptly. What is of more importance is the substance of the discussion and it is important not to lose sight of that. What is clear is that there is only 1 Libyan in a Scottish prison, therefore reference in the Memorandum of Understanding to seeking agreement from all 3 UK jurisdictions does seem to imply the possibility of a deal on Al Megrahi. Not to have raised this possibility with the SNP administration, either before signing the MoU or shortly afterwards does look like a significant error by the UK Govt.

  • 4.
  • At 12:23 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Ed Martin wrote:

I have nothing against a robust interviewing technique but on this occasion, Ms Wark took a dismissive tone from the start of this interview. She was interviewing Scotland's elected First Minister yet gave the impression she was contemptious of every word he uttered.
I had the feeling that she allowed a personal distaste for Alex Salmond to affect how she conducted the interview.
Not good.

Alex Salmond gets found out for trying to make political gain over a non-issue. Quite funny.

  • 6.
  • At 12:38 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • AM2, Glasgow wrote:

The premise of the interview was spot-on. Most of your complaints, I suspect, came from SNP activists and supporters who last night whipped up faux indignation on the Herald and Scotsman forums.

Your response is too kind. At the end of the interview, Kirsty Wark said "Terribly sorry, I have to stop you there" but Alex Salmond continued to speak and had to be cut off. I can't see that as either the producer's or Kirsty Wark's fault.

Stick to your guns. Newsnight is known for its combative style, and Alex Salmond should not be exempt simply because so many of his supporters seem to feel he should be.

  • 7.
  • At 12:42 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • LM wrote:

I hope that the First Minister also received assurance that he would not be treated in such a discourteous manner again.

  • 8.
  • At 12:57 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

I thought Kirsty Ward was intense and at times tetchy. In this interview I did not see Alex Salmond being particularly robust or challenging.

There was unanimity of response from the scottish parliamentary speakers that I heard responding to the memorandum of understanding, however Kirsty Ward pointedly refused to acknowledge this.

Even more irritating were the prolonged Gabby Logan style shots of Kirsty Ward over the shoulder of her studio guest.

My impression was that Newsnight was biased, ill informed, discourteous and irritating.

How can I get a refund on my licence fee for this?

  • 9.
  • At 01:09 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • LM wrote:

"but for most of the interview I don't think we strayed outside the boundaries of what viewers expect or find acceptable in a Newsnight interview"

Clearly that is not the case, hence the high number of complaints.

  • 10.
  • At 01:10 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Peter Gordon wrote:

I have to say that this was a shocking way to carry out an interview. It was not probing questions, which an interview should have, but downright rudeness, and what seemed like an attempt to suppress the efforts Alex Salmond made to explain his side of the argument.

  • 11.
  • At 01:12 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • B Shelby wrote:

Sorry, you are wrong. You did stray outside the boundaries 'of what viewers expect or find acceptable'. Worse, you produced a lousy interview because of a pointless hectoring style. And I don't even particularly like Salmond -- or giving politicians a free ride.

  • 12.
  • At 01:47 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Peter McGann wrote:

I do not understand the basis for the comment that the interview was intense and tetchy. If anyone was intense and tetchy it was Kirsty Wark and her alone.

Irrespective of any experience you have had with Mr Salmond the fact is that he retained his composure against her preposterous onslaught just as simply as she lost hers.

What her actions did show was that she did not ought to be involved in any matters that involve the Scottish Parliament - unless of course she happens to agree with the subject to be discussed.

  • 13.
  • At 01:50 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Jeanette SW4 London wrote:

No Peter as I understand Andy Duncan says "doubles all round" for the Newsnight foot soldiers - for managing to take the heat off him for a night.

Think it's the best nights sleep the Channel 4 head honcho has had in ages someone else's switchboard being blocked for a change ... :)

  • 14.
  • At 02:08 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • John Hailey wrote:

I couldn't believe how disrespectful Kirsty Wark was towards the First Minister last night. Intense questioning is one thing but her aggressive tone and complete refusal to listen to anything Alex Salmond was a disgrace. Especially as he was actually answering every question she had without any problems!

I would expect an apology for the not only the way the interview was closed but also the manner in which it was conducted to be the first thing on Newsnight tonight.

  • 15.
  • At 02:14 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • DisgustedDorothy wrote:

Not Kirsty Wark finest hour!
I thought the BBC had been told to show a little more respect for politicians,or does that only apply to Labour ones?
As for the inane follow up from Newsnight Scotland! Enough said!!

  • 16.
  • At 02:56 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

I'm no fan of Alex Salmond at all but I do think that the First Minister is entitled, not to a free ride by any means, but to a little more respect during an interview.

  • 17.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • David Nummey wrote:

I have a lot of time for Kirsty Wark, and I believe she's done a lot of good work.

Last night, however, was awful. I cringed watching it. It was not professional television journalism.

I presume that Mr Salmond and Ms Wark are not friends. However, Alex Salmond appeared to rise above that and Ms Wark didn't.

  • 18.
  • At 04:12 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

Most people who watch Newsnight, I guess, by the very nature of the programme, ,have little objection when interviewers adopt an assertive or aggressive approach in the face of evasion, confusion, an apparent intention to mislead or a lack of evidence. However, Alex Salmon made his points in a perfectly comprehensible and supported way. Kirsty Wark behaved as if she was determined to adopt a combative approach regardless of any response she received.

  • 19.
  • At 04:14 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • mike wrote:

AM2 - I waiting with bated breath to hear in what way the premise of the interview was "spot on". It seems perfectly legitimate for Mr Salmond to raise the matter in the Scottish Parliament as the issue pertains to powers devolved to it. Given that there is only the one Libyan prisoner in a Scottish prison and given that the MoU refers to seeking the agreement of all 3 UK jurisdictions then it seems reasonable to infer that the signatories to the MoU had al Magrahi in mind. This interpretation has been further strengthened by Jack McConnell's interview from earlier today saying that when he was FM he had resisted earlier suggestions that al Magrahi been transferred to Libya. The issue is clearly a sensitive one and the UK Govt as a matter of courtesy, at least, should have advised the Scottish administration of this either before or shortly after signing the MoU.

This is not just a matter of concern for SNP supporters as can be seen by the responses of all the major political parties in Scotland.

  • 20.
  • At 04:20 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

Most people who watch Newsnight, I guess, by the very nature of the programme, ,have little objection when interviewers adopt an assertive or aggressive approach in the face of evasion, confusion, an apparent intention to mislead or a lack of evidence. However, Alex Salmon made his points in a perfectly comprehensible and supported way. Kirsty Wark behaved as if she was determined to adopt a combative approach regardless of any response she received.

  • 21.
  • At 04:28 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Can I put my head above the parapet and stick up for Ms Wark ?

The problem here is not her behaviour, but I think there may have been a lack of explanation of just how 'dodgy' Mr Salmond's behaviour was. If that had been explained better most people would have concluded that Kirsty was quite within her rights to do a 'Paxo' on him.

Alex Salmond has been described as a man so pleased with himself he would drink his own bathwater. I have no idea if that is true as I have never met the guy. But he does try and come across as a smooth, avuncular lovely old guy. He is a politician and can play hardball with the best of them.

What I am cross about is that if Paxo had done this there would be some shrugging of shoulders [boys will be boys] and a bit of an acknowledgement that Alex Salmond had been playing fast and loose.

But because it is Kirsty Wark the vibe I'm getting is that her wrist has been slapped and she's been told not to do it again. This is shameful.

Yes, the interview did end rather curtly - but if Salmond had tried to make an attempt at answering the question, instead of patronising her with bluff and laughter he might have had time to get his defence in.

If Kirsty had spoken like that to Ming Campbell or, say, Jack Straw I would be the first to condemn her as they are, generally, courteous and do attempt to answer the question as set. But it is shocking if Kirsty isn't allowed to 'give as good as she gets' when someone is trying to shake off her line of questioning.

So you should be ashamed of yourself if you are asking her to behave any differently to Jeremy Paxman - it is that 'no-nonsense' style for which I watch Newsnight. If her interruptions were so frequent that poor diddums replies couldn't be heard - fine. But they could - so give her a break !

  • 22.
  • At 04:29 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Bren Gormley wrote:

I must express my disappointment at Kirsty Wark's lack of professionalism and sheer bad manners. this certainly falls way below the standards of journalism by which the BBC have formerly purported to set and hold as an example to others. This contained evident bias, continually cut across the Mr Salmond and was thus uninformative

  • 23.
  • At 04:45 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • KOAS wrote:

To be honest, I'm actually more concerned about the interview than the cutting off. Having people cut off like that has to happen every now and then and whilst it came across as dismissive I know it has to happen. What I didn't like about it was the patronising way Kirsty Wark said 'exactly' as she turned away from him. However, most concerning was the interview where she seemed to keep pressing the same point getting what seemed to be a fair answer from Salmond. Having said that, I don't really understand the particulars of this story so perhaps that's my fault - maybe he was dodging the question.

Live on-air apology? I wouldn't say that's necessary.

  • 24.
  • At 04:50 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • B Carson wrote:

I don't agree that the interview stayed within acceptable boundaries. Ms Wark is NOT a democratically elected representative of anyone. She is paid by our licence fees to do a professional job as a reporter and interviewer. Much as she obviously loathes Mr Salmond - he is the First Minister of Scotland and is entitled to basic respect and courtesy. Ms Wark showed herself up very badly and made it quite plain that she has completely lost her objectivity (and her cool) where Mr Salmond and the 'New Politics' in Scotland are concerned. Fortunately for all of us our elected politicians are, so far, all behaving much better and are swallowing their pride and getting on with the business.

  • 25.
  • At 04:56 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • ROSS wrote:

The interview was so bad i actually went out of my way to find this page and complain. The interviwer was totally disrespectful to the First Minister of Scotland. Who does she think she is? She was interviewing the most powerful man in Scottish politics and treated him like a nobody. It was poor journalism. Wark did not even listen to the answers given by Mr Salmond.

The Newsnight Scotland presenter was a joke too with her line about him "never phones, never writes" comment. Who told her to say that? Mr Salmond was quite right to not enter into further discussion which such an obviously biased programme.

I didn't vote SNP by the way...

  • 26.
  • At 05:02 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • gregor Aitken wrote:

As much as i love Ms Wark, surely she should not even be doing these interviews.

Had the interview been with our previous First minister i am sure it would have been much more of a love in.

Surely Miss Warks conflict of interest continues when Mr. McConnel is in opposition.

And I would have loved to have seen how this whole story would have panned out it Jack had still been in charge.

  • 27.
  • At 05:04 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Alastair wrote:

I saw the interview and frankly had Ms Wark conducted an interview of, say, Tony Blair, in that manner, I suspect she'd ahve been out of a job within hours. Alex Salmond was trying to answer her hectoring questions, but she rudely interrupted him and basically lost her rag. Perhaps she is too close to Jack McConnell.....

  • 28.
  • At 05:19 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Irene Thomson wrote:

Kirsty Wark is a good friend of the former first minister of Scotland (and Alex Salmond's opponent) Jack McConnell. Well, friendy enough to take holidays with him.

Wark kept on BBC probation over bias fears

I can only imagine the furore if John Humphries of the Today programme took holidays with one of Westminster's political leaders. How could he be seen to be impartial afterwards?

I think Kirsty Warks political affiliations are too obvious and are hindering her ability to carry out impartial and unbiased interviews - on Scottish matters in particular.

Clearly this is unnacceptable and the BBC must take action to ensure if they task Kirsty Wark with political interviewing, she at least complies with appropriate standards of impartiality that we expect of the BBC. This interview falls way short.

  • 29.
  • At 05:21 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • norman macarthur wrote:

Not good enough. Dont blame running out of time either. That was the least of it. Poor, poor show people. Wark was totally unprofessional (intense and tetchy dont even come close) Her objectivity has been completely compromised. Not fit for the Newsnight chair. As far as Newsnicht Scotland is concerned...pathetic

This is my umpteenth time trying to get something posted!!

  • 30.
  • At 05:29 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Jock Quickdraw McGraw wrote:

Perhaps Ms Wark could go on holiday with Mr Salmond and his family as a way of saying sorry?

  • 31.
  • At 05:43 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Scott Bayne wrote:

Having watched the "interview", I too was appalled at Ms. Wark's ill-mannered hectoring.

As has been commented above, I am far from wanting to see politicians given an easy ride (as is far too often the case), but Ms. Wark's attitude did no credit to herself, nor the BBC. She opened and closed the interview in a very impolite and unprofessional manner, and the less said about the content the better.

I'm no particular supporter of Alex Salmond, but in this case he made reasonable points, and well put - the tone was entirely unwarranted.

To think the BBC pay her for that level of performance. Come to think of it, no, I pay her - she should refund my license fee.

  • 32.
  • At 05:45 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

It's possible that Kirsty showed Mr Salmond the level of respect he deserves.

I think if you keep on talking after the presenter has signalled the end of the interview then you can't then complain if you are cut off abrubtly.

When will the people learn that Mr Salmond is all spin and no substance.


  • 33.
  • At 05:48 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Fras wrote:

Isn't Kirsty Wark a close friend of Jack McConnell - the man Mr. Salmond took his new job off of? Now I'm not suggesting there is a connection....but....

  • 34.
  • At 05:52 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Alastair M Taylor wrote:

Your summary is very wrong. "not straying outside the boundaries of what viewers expect or find acceptable". I found it very offensive and for the first time ever have made a formal complaint to the BBC. I as appalled by the behaviour of Kirsty Wark in her interview with Alex Salmond. The venom and spitefulness in her questioning of Scotland's First Minister was outrageous. She clearly lost all objectivity in her task which I can only put down to the fact that she has a dispute running with Salmond with her company and the proposed film on Hollyrood and the fact that her personal friend the ex- First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell lost the election to Salmond. This interview was so unprofessional that Kirsty Wark embarrased herself and that it is clear to me that she cannot disguise her personal views which I have noticed on other occassions. To rudely cut off Salmond at the end when she had no time pressures forcing the termination is all the evidence you need. It's time to take her off the air and not pretend any longer that she is a competent journalist. I am surprised that the producers of Newsnight allowed her to do the interview knowing of her personal dislike for Salmond. For your information, I am not a supporter of the SNP and live in Buckinghamshire. I am a supporter of Newsnight, certainly up to now and of good journalism.

  • 35.
  • At 06:20 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Anne wrote:

I thought people on here were exaggerating until I saw it for myself. I do not believe that the apology given is enough. KW behaved in a dreadful manner - she was angry and nippy and downright rude. And for Peter Barron to say "the interview" was at times "tetchy" followed by this (by way of explanation)"Mr Salmond is a ... challenging interviewee" is just not good enough. He was calm, not tetchy in the slightest. He listened, he spoke in a measured way and wasn't the slightest bit challenging. God knows what was wrong with Kirsty Wark but she should apologise or go and present gardening programmes.

  • 36.
  • At 06:25 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Stewart R wrote:

You need to remember Ms. Wark's chumminess with what was the Labour establishment in Scotland. Close pals with both Dewar and McConnell. I would however have expected a more professional approach from her and Newsnight

In the latter part of the interview, Wark seemed to concentrate on making assertions to the exclusion of actually asking questions. Maybe that's a legitimate technique but surely you then have to give the interviewee an opportunity to refute those assertions.

Given the previous controversy over Wark's political links this interview has to raise questions about her ability to be impartial.

It seemed to go downhill after Salmond suggested Wark wasn't up to speed with developments in the Scottish Parliament.

Perhaps this strengthens the case for a 'Scottish Six.'

  • 38.
  • At 06:34 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • scott heatherley wrote:

was this interview anything to do with her close friendship with Jack McConnell?

  • 39.
  • At 07:01 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • David wrote:

What disgusting rude dismissive and horrendous behaviour by Kirsty Wark. Looks like she was ‘on something’ or maybe it is because her wee pall JOKE MCONell is not the Scottish first Minister now. You are wrong. - you the BBC and KW did stray way outside the boundaries 'of what viewers expect or find acceptable'. Worse, you produced a lousy interview because of a partial interviewer. Time to take Kirsty Wark away from commenting on Scottish political issues I almost said interviewing BUT that was not an interview it was a blatant attempt to brow beat and put down the new Scottish First Minister. I guess she is taking a lead and following Tony Bliar and finds it difficult to give people she ‘obviously’ does not like the common curtsies how pathetic. ITS TIME to take Kirsty Wark OFF BBC Scotland.

  • 40.
  • At 07:08 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • M Nelson wrote:

Why are you censoring most of the complaints sent in about the deplorable interview conducted by Kirsty wark.
If its too difficult for her to remain politically impartial why dont you just sack her?

  • 41.
  • At 07:11 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Janie Orr wrote:

That was unproffesional interviewing it wasn't fair to mr salmond as was getting to the point and was interupted.
Watching it made me cringe.

Oh and she needs to get a better posture at the start of newsnight.

Very disappointed by that interview, i understand about challenging the interviewee but that was ridiculous!

  • 42.
  • At 07:12 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • David Mowatt wrote:

Normally Kirsty is very professional. She asks probing questions, and allows a detailed response. She does not let politicians off the hook if they appear to be waffling. In this interview,Kirsty seemed hell-bent on attacking Scotland's first minister from the word go. She also appeared not to have all the facts to hand. There was a bit of waffling from Kirsty..possibly because A Salmond is an excellent interviewee who has all the facts at his fingertips. I was bemused with the style of this interview, and A Salmond also looked bemused. Not one of Kirsty's best moments.

  • 43.
  • At 07:14 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Barry wrote:

I am surprised that Kirsty Wark was allowed to interview the First minister in the first place. There was a widely reported scandal a couple of years ago, widely reported including here at the BBC, regarding Kirsty's close friendship with Jack McConnell. The scandal involved her inviting him to stay at her holiday home in Majorca, and her staying at Bute House for two days at his invitation.

It became clear then that she has chosen a side in Scottish politics and is close to some members of New Labour socially. So her role regarding reporting in Scotland was downgraded for a while.

I am surprised that the BBC seems to have reversed this decision, as the interview she conducted very much gave the impression that she is biased against the SNP.

  • 44.
  • At 07:16 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Arthur Morrison wrote:

The interview was shocking. Wark must be sacked. As an SNP member I will be urging the party to have abolition of the BBC license fee on its manifesto for the next General Election. That should mean £300m less to spend on people like her.

Do you not realise Wark is damaged goods in Scotland. Her tv production company Wark Clements was the beneficiary of some very lucrative public sector contracts from the previous New Labour government. She has a clear conflict of interest. Please get the woman off my tv screen.

  • 45.
  • At 07:24 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Steven Niclas wrote:

Kirsty comes over as a dominatrix who has been outfought by Alex. And she does not like it.

Perhaps this illustrates the information release gap between the previous executive and this one.

In other words Alex is freely imparting real information and Kirsty can only question on the Labour habit of witholding information. It must be easy to maintain the initiative in an interview when you know the interviewee is squirming to wriggle out of being honest.

She met her match and lost the "debate".

  • 46.
  • At 07:29 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Phil Dee wrote:

The issue isn't an abrupt termination of the interview as Peter Barron tries to spin.

Ms Wark was pursuing an agenda of personal attack, not elucidation of truth, right from the word go. Her dismissiveness, her inability to frame an objective question were only too apparent. Her whole approach oozed bias.

  • 47.
  • At 07:31 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

Those suggesting that the First Minister is stirring up something from a non-issue should read what Jack McConnell said in parliament yesterday:

"As a former First Minister, I would have expected and demanded no less than prior consultation on such a memorandum. If the Scottish Executive—the new Scottish Government—was not consulted or informed in advance, that is certainly regrettable. I have not seen the letter that the First Minister has sent to the Prime Minister, but I am happy to support the First Minister's representations in general. I hope that the United Kingdom Government listens carefully to what he has said."

When Jack McConnell, the Tories, the Lib Dems, Tam Dalyell, the Lord Advocate, the Scottish legal profession, Brian Taylor and BBC Scotland's own lawyer are on the same side of something, it's hard to spin it as an SNP stunt!

  • 48.
  • At 07:31 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Mary wrote:

I find your grudging apology ill fitting. The interview was not tetchy, Wark was techy, rude, insulting, hysterical and let her personal hatred of the man allow her to become a high pitched screaming imbecile.

You blaming time constraints for the way the interview ended is not good enough..... do you think Kirsty is so famous as to be untouchable by your organisations, she is your emplayee, no more no less, Newsnight is condoning her behaviour by not making her publically apologise on air for her total lack of impartiality and professionalism.

It reflects BADLY on YOU the BBC and Newsnight!

  • 49.
  • At 07:38 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Ken Mac wrote:

Miss Warks behaviour was unacceptable. We expect politicians to be grilled and subjected to pointed questioning but Miss Wark's treatment of Alex Salmond went well beyond that. She got her facts wrong, appeared not to have seen his statement to Parliament and was overly aggressive in word and manner. In addition her manner in ending the interview was discourteous in the extreme. Her friendship with the previous First Minister is well documentated but not in keeping with the impartiality the BBC must display. This coupled with her treatment of Mr Salmond should lead to her removal from future interviews of this nature.

  • 50.
  • At 07:41 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Chris Jones, Norway wrote:

Having seen how Alex Salmond was treated by Kirsty Wark, I was appalled and embarrassed. Whilst Mr Salmond remained polite, calm and professional, Kirsty Wark was rude, abrupt, dismissive and clearly very unprofessional. As an interviewer, I would expect her to be enquiring, but she has certainly overstepped any barrier by a long way and most definitely should make a suitable apology to Mr Salmond. No matter what her political persuasion, she should leave any personal views at home and remain impartial.

  • 51.
  • At 07:44 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Paul Gordon wrote:

This was not an objective interview and certainly not up to the normal standards that we expect from the BBC. Quite simply Kirsty Wark needs to apologise for a diatribe against the First Minister of Scotland.

  • 52.
  • At 07:47 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • alan swales wrote:

Your anchor woman was nothing short of rude,hostile and in serious need of some manners.SHE SHOULD NOT BE HOSTING ANY POLITICAL PROGRAMMES OR INTERVIEWS IN SCOTLAND.She was pathetic in her obvious hatred af alex salmond and the snp.The labour party should consider hiring the loud mouthed woman.The elected scottish executive should investigate this woman to find out why she is so hostile towards the snp,leave no stone unturned.

  • 53.
  • At 07:50 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • alan swales wrote:

Your anchor woman was nothing short of rude,hostile and in serious need of some manners.SHE SHOULD NOT BE HOSTING ANY POLITICAL PROGRAMMES OR INTERVIEWS IN SCOTLAND.She was pathetic in her obvious hatred af alex salmond and the snp.The labour party should consider hiring the loud mouthed woman.The elected scottish executive should investigate this woman to find out why she is so hostile towards the snp,leave no stone unturned.

  • 54.
  • At 07:58 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Ruth wrote:

The introduction to the piece implies that this matter is only a vehicle for Alex Salmond to oppose the UK government - an immediate example of bias suggesting this is not a viable or real issue. Kirsty Wark then continually shouts Alex Salmond down and she is the only one who comes across as 'tetchy'. The ending is rude not because of the cutting off but because Kirsty Wark is shouting 'exactly' at the FIrst Minister. I don't think she should be interviewing Scottish politicians if she can't be unbiased.

  • 55.
  • At 08:02 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Bill Russell wrote:

Shame on the BBC.
I've long given up on the thought of seeing impartial balanced debate from the BBC. But at least the lop sided interviews used to be conducted professionally, now it seems my licence fee doesn't even pay for that.

  • 56.
  • At 08:04 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • D.A.C.N wrote:

I have lost all respect for Kirsty Wark and a little respect for the standard of the journalism on Newsnight. Firstly, she did not appear to know what she was talking about. Had she or any of the researchers actualy heard what was said in the statement to the Scottish Parliament? Moreover, she was completely wrong about the contents of the MoU and the role of the Lord Advocate in Scotland. She challenged every point Alex Salmond made and then patronisinlgy cut him off and incredably said to the Scotland Office minister: "Exactly, Alex Salmond has a point dosent he?"

Very unproffesional interview Kirsty. Something to talk about on holiday with the McConnells this year...

  • 57.
  • At 08:08 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • scot wrote:

Perhaps Peter Barron is unaware of how Scottish politics works. Any treatment of Alex Salmond which is anything less than deferential and grovelling is met with a cascade of abuse from the SNP and quickly organised campaign of complaints. The Scottish press is well used to this and a cursory glance at any Scottish newspaper's website with incessant and insistent demands for apologies, sackings and boycotts would bear this out.

Mr Salmond is well aware that interview times are finite and that Ms Wark would be under pressure to move on to her next interviewee. His constant talking across her as she tried to wrap the piece up was typical of the man's rudeness.

In short Kirsty Wark is nto as aggressive an interviewer as Jeremy Paxman, John Humphries or the late Robin Day. And Alex Salmond received nothing like the treatment meted out in the past towards politicians like Michael Howard & John Reid to name two equally combative personalities from the two main parties.

However you have decided to hand a propaganda victory to the SNP. They will now claim that the BBC has apologised to Alex Salmond - full stop - no mention of the circumstances. Kirsty Wark will have to treat him with kid gloves if he ever allows her to interview him again.

Every time Alex Salmond gets a tough question the BBC will be inundated with the same response until it gets to the point that in effect he will dictate who can or cannot interview him.

Mr Barron should ask himself this: would Blair, Cameron or Campbell receive an apology in the same circumstances? I suspect not.

  • 58.
  • At 08:08 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Robert Watt wrote:

Firstly Mr Salmond did not "pick a fight". This serious error should be corrected and a public apology given.
Ms Wark's interview was completely unacceptable on many levels - again a public on air apology should be given by Ms. Wark. The rest of the newsnight team responsible should also apologise.If a fullsome apology is not forthcoming then this matter will not rest.
Mr Blair's actions in Libya were simply disgraceful and the BBC should hold him to account.
I would suggest that Ms Wark is not asked to do any more Scottish political interviews- her unfettered bias is too much.

  • 59.
  • At 08:18 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Mark Hirst wrote:

Kirsty's long association with the Scottish Labour Party and her joint holidays with the former First Minister, Jack McConnell clearly means she was a bad choice to interview Salmond and undermines the BBC's perceived neutrality and impartiality. I think Kirsty is a talented and normally very professional presenter, but it looked like her own prejudices came to the fore in a way they should not have. It was easily the worst interview I have seen her conduct and I was cringing in embarressment for her. Very poor indeed.

  • 60.
  • At 08:19 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

Regarding Kirsty Wark's attacks on Alex Salmond on Newsnight. We expect BBC journalists to be robust in interviews but it is disappointing when there is the appearance of bias. The premise that the interview was conducted on appeared to be that Alex Salmond was "playing politics" and Kirsty Wark did not appear to wish to deviate from this line. I and other viewers must have been frustrated that Alex Salmond was simply not allowed to answer questions and repeatedly cut off. Kirsty Wark has placed herself in an invidious position by being closely identified with the Labour party in Scotland and leaves this viewer in doubt that she is able to examine politics in Scotland fairly.

  • 61.
  • At 08:27 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • TrimmTrab wrote:

We all want to see the politicians nudged into giving us the answers!

There is however a profesional way to do this and kirsty Wark appears to have moved beyond this.

We want an impartial BBC - we pay for it an we pay Kirstys wages when she is on.

She should be impartial to politics but she has not given off the appearance of impartiality which is even worse.

Also we should treat other how we expect to be treated - if your going to bully the First Minister of the country on national TV then cut him off why should he or any of us respect the BBC?

  • 62.
  • At 08:32 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Alan Lawson wrote:

The interview was astonishing - Ms Wark was partisan, rude, and dismissive, and it pains me to say that I have rarely seen such an unprofessional piece of journalism. The BBC should be ashamed, and groveling to Mr Salmond with an apology.
The comments by Mr Barron above seem to refer to another interview entirely - this one was not 'tetchy' - only Ms Wark was tetchy. Mr Salmond was cool, well-briefed, logical and reasonable - Ms Wark was none of those.

  • 63.
  • At 08:39 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • embraman wrote:

I saw the interview and thought it was excellent. Kirsty Wark was doing what I expect good journalists to do - refusing to let a slippery politician off the hook. It seems that some will be content with nothing less than a return to the dark days of "First Minister, is there anything you would like to share with the nation?"

  • 64.
  • At 08:49 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • George Dutton wrote:

The ANGER on the face of Kirsty Wark and the tone of her voice while she was interviewing Alex Salmond was shocking. I have never seen anything like this before, I am genuely shocked.

  • 65.
  • At 08:51 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Pensionrobbingbrown wrote:

Kirsty Wark - Jack McConnell - work for Wark and her husband`s company- holidays with Jack- biased and wrong - surely not the Bias British Corporation!!!!!!!!!! - get shot of this whining female and have someone sensible and cutting pilot the programme.

I did not vote for Salmond either but on last nights showing he rose above puerile, infantile, hectoring , and showed Wark - McConnell et al how a First Minister should perform.

  • 66.
  • At 08:54 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Campbell McLean wrote:

I don't agree that this didn't overstep the mark.

From her very first question Kirsty Wark came over as hostile and unnecessarily provocative.

As a long-time fan of Kirty's interviewing, I am disappointed.

  • 67.
  • At 09:05 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • ian Murray wrote:

I have no problem with interviewers going after the Guest if they are being obstructive towards the questions.That was not the case here! Ms Wark was combative right from the start.The apology was also mealy mouthed

  • 68.
  • At 09:14 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • John McDonald wrote:

Kirsty Wark's attitude is symptomatic of the London establishment's attitude to the SNP administration. Hey ho, water of a duck's back for Alex I suspect...

  • 69.
  • At 09:22 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Stephen Hamblin wrote:

I'm afraid I have to disagree with the Editorial comment that " We do not think we strayed outside the boundaries of what viewers expect or find acceptable in a Newsnight interview" I think Kirsty Wark did just that.

I found the clearly visible contempt shown towards Alex Salmond by Miss Wark astonishing, wholly inappropriate, and unbecoming of an impartial journalist. I must admit I was unaware of her affiliations with the former First Minister until after reading the comments of other viewers. This affiliation perhaps explains some of the contempt Kirsty Wark displayed towards Mr Salmond. If a personal friend has been ousted from office perhaps it is not a good idea to have the aforementioned friend conduct an interview with the successor.

However, I had thought of her as a professional journalist up until lasts night's shameful display of discourtesy. What made it worse for me was the fact that she as a Scot, seemed to show so much distain for Scotland's new First Minister. Utterly appalling, disrespectful and unprofessional.

  • 70.
  • At 09:26 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Chookie wrote:

I have lost all respect I had for Ms. Wark. As an experienced political interviewer, she should have cultivated the ability to be objective. Thus, her behaviour during that episode (it is not worthy of being referred to as an "interview")must disqualify her from further any interviews with any Scottish politicians.

  • 71.
  • At 09:30 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Lillias Fabbroni wrote:

Comment 21 - Bedd Gelert:- So what programme were you watching, then?

  • 72.
  • At 09:36 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • jazz wrote:

watched the interveiw with alex salmond and kirsy wark . No matter the subject matter i found the interveiwer to be extremely rude

  • 73.
  • At 09:49 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • John Cuffe wrote:

Miss Wark's conduct in the interview with Alex Salmond, fell far short of the standard normally displayed by professional broadcasters. I found it cringe inducing, to see her lack of impartiality so visibly displayed.

  • 74.
  • At 09:59 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Sandra wrote:

Quite frankly, I had to change channels over this 'interview'. I have admired Kirsty's work in the past, but this was downright rude agressive treatment of an elected politician and was dreadful. Robust interviewing yes but rudeness big NO NO!
Having seen the 'statement' now, I can see the very good reason for the First Minister's anger at the Whitehall treatment. It now appears that Mr McConnell had rebuffed previous attempts, so what was Kirsty playing at? Either she had not done her homework, or bias was showing - I suspect the latter! On the BBC this will not do.
As for Lord Foulkes or whatever his name is later - he has no idea of acceptable behaviour. Please do not use him either!

  • 75.
  • At 10:18 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Stuart Hunter wrote:

This "apology" by the BBC to Alex Salmond, is pathetic and is not enough. Kirsty Wark should have to apologise in public for her behaviour and should never be allowed to interview a Scottish Executive Minister again, indeed, stay out of Scottish politics.

  • 76.
  • At 10:27 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Ken Johnston wrote:

What was it with Ms Wark. Is she a special pal of Broon as well as Jack McConnel.
I have never seen an interview such as this, if intervew is the correct term.
She was nasty, ungracious and the cut off at the end was particularly dirty.

And this to our First Minister.

Common civility decrees that you do not treat an interviewee like this.
Either get her to appologies, or get her off the programme.
A disgrace, but coming from the English Broadcasting Corporation, who's surprised.

  • 77.
  • At 10:48 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • gerry wrote:

I have just watched a re-run of the salmond/wark interview I was embarassed to witness the boorish approach of Ms Wark. There is a real likelyhood that the SNP are percieved by the Scottish electorate as the victom of a media conspiracy to diccredit the Scottish government

  • 78.
  • At 10:50 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • GW wrote:

I just watched the interview and it seemed ok to me apart from the very ending when Alex Salmond was cut off abruptly. To be fair, Kirsty then treated the next guest worse in terms of more interrupting during her questioning.

Paxman would have made a better job of it!

  • 79.
  • At 10:52 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Al McEwan wrote:

I have set aside my own personal political views along with my admiration for Miss Wark, to write this comment.
I watched this interview and there were a few unusual aspects to the whole 'stramash' first is it became obvious that very early in the interview Ms Wark had a previously existing agenda (it is not possible to say whether this was political or personally motivated) but she was clearly uncomfortable with the way it was 'going' so began 'leading' the interview in a specific direction. In contrast to Ms Warks skewed questioning and unprofessional conduct (thinly vieled attacks diguised as questions) The First Minsters attempted to make light of what was an increasingly 'poisonous' situation.
It is not about YOU Ms Wark but the TV PRODUCTION COMPANY you are representing, and you did it BADLY, believe me I should know I have a degree in political science and media ...
Like it or not Ms Wark is a seasoned experienced professional in her field, so I am left asking the question who put her up to this, and why?
Now as to Ms Wark, SHE should either apologise in person or consider precluding herself in future from the 'She's Loathing Him' question!!

  • 80.
  • At 10:56 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • gerry wrote:

I have just watched a re-run of the salmond/wark interview I was embarassed to witness the boorish approach of Ms Wark. The SNP are percieved by the Scottish electorate as the victim of a media conspiracy to dicredit the Scottish government

  • 81.
  • At 11:00 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Thomas R Wilson wrote:

The interview was conducted unprofessionally by Kirsty Wark. In my opinion she didn't offer the First Minister the common courtesy or good grace when directing her interviews.

The concluding of the interview was so abrupt and outrageous. Is Kirsty Wark anti-Alex Salmond?

  • 82.
  • At 11:08 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

It would appear that Ms Wark was badly briefed about the content of the First Ministers Statement and the subsequent questions. It would also appear that there was an agenda at play from the interviewer.

"So you should be ashamed of yourself if you are asking her to behave any differently to Jeremy Paxman" is considerably missing the point.

Mr Paxman's politics are unknown, to myself anyway, Kirsty Warks are very clear and her closeness to senior Labour politicians in Scotland are a matter of record.

Quite unacceptable from the BBC.

  • 83.
  • At 11:09 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Padraig wrote:

The interview by Wark was of poor quality, and well below the standard required. As many other posts have said she was too emotional and tetchy, and Salmond did well to address her questions, but she seemed not to listen. Her links to Labour in Scotland are well known and she should not be involved in Scottish political stories. How can the BBC justify allowing a personal friend of the leader of the opposition in Scotland the opportunity to interview the FM? I have always thought that Wark was way over rated, give some else a chance BBC, this is not the best you can do.

  • 84.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Davie Graham wrote:

This interview was the worst I have ever seen. Running out of time happens, being that rude shouldn't. Ms Wark should watch the interview again and then comment.

  • 85.
  • At 11:19 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Stevie B wrote:

Good to see Salmond being taken to rask for once, he has been given to easy a ride up until now.

Well done Kirsty!

I am dissapointed and saddened with the tone used by Kirsty during this interview. She was abrupt, ill mannered and down right rude!
She appeared to think that interrupting and cutting short Alec Salmond made for "good television".
Clearly a real error of judgement on her part.
Mr Salmond was dismissed like a scolded schoolboy with utter contempt and left bewildered by a show of the utmost bad manners.
I am disgusted and amazed with her behaviour and would expect a public apology at the very least!

  • 87.
  • At 11:34 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • tom wrote:

Kirsty's great and she's usually so much better than Paxman.
Not last night, though.
It was bad.
She has a problem now, when it comes to Scottish Politics.
Who'd have thought that Newsnight and the BBC would have to tell it's journalists not to holiday with leading political figures if they didn't want to be seen to be compromised?
I take it she blames Salmond and the SNP for her humiliation.
She started peeved, and Salmond's calm responses and superior knowledge made her more aggressive.
He is a great tactician.
It is a shame, but you can't let her challenge Jack McConnells' opponents.
Salmond can afford to be more magnanimous, because as far as Scottish Politics is concerned, she is a lame-duck presenter!

  • 88.
  • At 11:48 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Maurice - Northumberland wrote:

I would appear that you did not see/hear the same interview many of us did!
Shame that.
However, you can re-run it on the web site.

  • 89.
  • At 11:49 PM on 08 Jun 2007,
  • Maurice - Northumberland wrote:

Nice try Peter - but that is all it adds upto - a try!

  • 90.
  • At 12:23 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • George Dutton wrote:

This is much more worrying then it first appears. That Kirsty Wark thinks she can get away with doing what she has done goes to show how far the BBC has caved into NEW Labour. Since the Andrew Gilligan affair it has been broken as an independent broadcaster. Too many at the BBC are too scared to stand upto the government. Kirsty Wark I think has the FULL backing of NEW Labours BBC board of governors and she knows it.

  • 91.
  • At 12:43 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Gary McLean wrote:

Mr Barron: It is good that you have allowed this to be aired. That Kirsty Wark is a fine TV news presenter, normally, isn't in question, nor is her acknowledged personal friendship with the leader of the opposition in Scotland, Jack McConnell. However, this Newsnight edition (with the Newsnight Scotland patronisation of the First Minister for net being on that section, too) was very imbalanced. Mr Salmond has just won an election in Scotland - critically, in the very teeth of (again acknowledged) press media bias. Therefore to people like me who supported Alex Salmond partly because such media bias in Scotland needs to be countered, it was deeply disconcerting to see the BBC's flagship news programme take such a pejorative stance and then treat Scotland's First Minister with dismissive rudeness. This is alarming: are we to expect imbalance now from the BBC, too?

  • 92.
  • At 01:17 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Brian Fulton wrote:

Having just watched the interview i am appalled at Kirsty Warks treatment of Alex Salmond. The whole interview was discourteous from start to finish. It just underlines (as expected) that she has a grudge against the new First Minister. This is a slap in the face of every electorate in Scotland. We deserve better from the BBC!

  • 93.
  • At 01:22 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • sharon McGonigal wrote:

Kirstys behaviour was wholly unacceptable, while Mr Salmond remained statesman-like. Is this twisting of facts going to be common place on every matter that the SNP raise? It really wasnt good enough BBC Scotland and if Miss Wark cannot get her facts straight prior to interviewing a politician on what is an important issue for our parliament, perhaps she is not the person who should be interviewing our politicians. This appeared to be a very biased interview, deliberately framed in a manner to portray our first minister as if he is spoiling for a fight and just looking for an excuse. I dont accept the excuses. Its not good enough.

  • 94.
  • At 01:45 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Seumas James wrote:

I just watched the interview in question after reading about this on the Scotsman website. And I must say that the interview style is all too typical of the arrogance which BBC interviews seem to display. A similarly ill-balanced interview was conducted by John Humphreys on Friday morning with the head of Channel 4. I was once a great fan of the rigorous style of BBC questioning but it has now got out of hand. And Kirsty Wark is well-known for her pro-Labour, pro-McConnell tendencies.

What do you think we watch your interviews for? They are *not* for your presenters to display various flavours of bias or bad moods. And the body language of Ms Wark was that of a simple minded Primary School teacher. Assuming that your interviewee is an idiot or someone to be talked down to is dangerous and against the principles of good broadcast journalism.

  • 95.
  • At 03:17 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Davy C wrote:

Miss Wark has now surely become an embarresment to the BBC, if not it speaks volumes for the quality of the BBC management.
There is no question about her freindship with the ex-first minister however she does not seem capable of viewing political situations objectively and without bais.
The words from Mr Barron are hollow indeed and also well below the standard expected to be set by the BBC, in short the whole issue has left the BBC and in particular Miss Wark looking bais and unproffessional, a danming enditement

Having watched the Wark interview twice now I agree the ending was shockingly unprofessional.

Kirsty would have gotten away with her brusque style during the interview but for the ending.

Definitely Salmond 1 Newsnight 0. Considering we are only a month into this parliament it is quite obvious that unless London's attitude to Scotland changes there will be many more 'opportunities' for Salmond to score valuable 'pro independence' points off London and of course, be backed up more than not by the opposition leaders who will have no choice if scotland and parliament is being insulted.

Salmond won't have to 'manufacture' points of disagreement as Kirsty Wark and others have claimed, he will simply have to stand up for Scotland. And of course, the people will rightly applaud him for that.

  • 97.
  • At 05:42 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Richard Pelling wrote:

Braun und Wark should have to promote their imperial agenda from their own pocket, not the public purse.

What a great argument for all BBC licence money raised in Scotland being spent in Scotland for programmes relevant to Scotland !

All BBC England broadcasts (TV & Radio) should be blocked from transmission in Scotland.

Saorsa !

  • 98.
  • At 06:01 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I think the BBC showed a serious lack of judgement in letting Ms Wark take this interview. She quite clearly allowed her personal beliefs & allegiances to get in the way. The complete lack of respect shown to Scotland’s first Minister by the BBC is very regrettable.

  • 99.
  • At 06:01 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

For once badly briefed, KW showed an unwillingness to deviate from her initial line, regardless of the responses from the FM. This is not like KW, as in the past she has frequently shown an ability to think on her feet.

I can only conclude that personal political bias and her obvious dislike for Salmond were the main reasons for such an unprofessional and cringe-worthy performance. Perhaps Newsnight needs to rethink her use in situations where she has now demonstrated a complete lack of objectivity.

  • 100.
  • At 07:01 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • John melvin wrote:

Mr Barron,having watched the 'interview' I would have to disagree with your assessment of it. In fact I would go so far as to say it shows your support of biased journalism. It's a fact though that to work for the BBC you have to appear to be an out and out Unionist, and when there is a conflict put 'other' interests before that of Scotland's people.

  • 101.
  • At 07:35 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • NPMcA wrote:

I would like to add my support for Kirsty Wark who did an excellent job in exposing the sham "emergency" concocted by Alex Salmond. I didn't see the interview when it was broadcast live but became intrigued by the coverage it received and tracked it down on the BBC website. I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Kirsty Walk's tone was no different from that of Jeremy Paxman and I see no need for the BBC to be bullied by the SNP into an apology. Salmond has brought the office of First Minister into disrepute by his misleading statements and it is quite right that he should be taken to task. It is he who should be offering the apology. Keep it up Kirsty!

  • 102.
  • At 08:23 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • David wrote:

After years of Tory ineptitude Labour finally have a worthwhile opposition, albiet one situated in Scotland, and boy they do not like it. Even their cronies like Kirsty Wark seem unable to conduct themselves in a civilised manner.

  • 103.
  • At 08:29 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Neal Sillars wrote:

Is the BBC not supposed to be politically neutral? Kirsty's disgraceful and partisan treatment of Alex Salmond was shocking. Should the British public be paying for this? I wait to see Brown and Blair receive the same treatment from the Beeb.

  • 104.
  • At 09:09 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Clamjamfrie wrote:

I wonder if the fact Kirsty Wark is a close personal friend of many New Labour politicians (even having a recent holiday together with Jack McConnel and wife I am told), allowed her personal affiliations to overly influence her style, and hence produce an incompetent performance on this occasion?

  • 105.
  • At 09:35 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • M.McDonald wrote:

A real embarrassment for Newsnight and its regular viewers allowing Ms Wark to behave in this manner towards Scotland's First Minister. Even those of us in Scotland who may not have voted SNP or be Salmond afficianados are appalled at the way the interview was conducted. Aggressively, impatiently and discourteously from the start and an appalling end. Premise of interview also dubious. Has the appearance on the Apprentice post-show chat the night before coloured KW's interview style? Ms Wark's credentials for conducting such interviews must also be examined as objectivity did not seem to reign here.

  • 106.
  • At 09:51 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • David Robertson wrote:

After watching the interview and listening to the comments of the parties involved it appears to me that the only one "playing politics" with this issue is the Prime Minister. He must have known that even suggesting to Libya that the Lockrbie bomber might be released would be perceived as high handed by the Scottish government given that the MOU was kept from them until the FO was forced to release it. To issue a secret MOU containing elements that should have received at least a preliminary nod from the Scottish Executive was both improper and inflammatory. Mr. Blair knew very well what he was doing and has spun the situation in the way he always intended.

  • 107.
  • At 09:53 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • aleex wrote:

The problem probably stems from the fact that Ms Wark (and her production company) were extremley close to the previous administration...

  • 108.
  • At 10:35 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Gerry wrote:

Was this Kirsty Wark's John Sweeney moment without the prior provocation?

  • 109.
  • At 10:44 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Richard Greensted wrote:

I thought the interview was disgraceful. Kirsty Wark was rude, confrontational and ill-informed. As a well-known friend of the previous First Minister, Jack McConnell, she was clearly hostile to Mr Salmond and she should have been replaced. What will the consequences be? Nothing - the BBC never admits that it has got things wrong.

  • 110.
  • At 11:11 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Martin O'Donnell wrote:

I have watched the Kirsty Wark "interview" with alex salmond and wish to complain about the tone used. I think she has every right to question but she appeared to have an agenda from the very start - perhaps she should be allowed in future to talk about books and films only in the Review section as she seems to be politically biased. Her links and friendship with Labour Leader Jack McConnell are well known. This should bar her from doing political interviews with any politician and she is incapable of "appearing" to be independent which is what I expect of the BBC.

  • 111.
  • At 11:17 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Richard Taylor wrote:

I am afraid Wark's interview style is rude in general.

There is no doubt in my mind that the fact she & McConnell are friends & went on holiday together DID cloud her "judgement" during the Salmond interview - she obviously just couldn't stomach the fact that her friend lost the Election & is in opposition now.

Surely that fact alone should preclude her from future political interviews - how can she possibly be seen as impartial??

  • 112.
  • At 11:25 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • zuribairn wrote:

had to laugh at AM2's comments (see post No.6) re most of the complaints coming from SNP activists on the Herald and Scotsman forums.

This is the same person who blindly supports New Labour (or Old Tory)in virtually every political forum in these "rags", irrespective of the merits of the debate. If SNP stated "white" you can guarantee AM2 would plump for "black". Looking at the times and number of posts, you could almost consider him to be in the full time pay of McConnel and his cronies (or maybe even part of the Wark Clements group!).

As for the interview, irrespective of your political view, Ms Wark was not challenging but extremely discourteous to the First Minister. Either she was just having a bad day or perhaps the previously reported relationships had a bearing on how this interview proceeded.

Either way, I think the BBC needs to review it's policy for fair and unbiased reporting / interviewing. It is clear in this case there was the potential of conflicting interests and Ms Wark should never have been allowed to conduct this interview.

Slap on the wrist for the BBC methinks !

  • 113.
  • At 11:30 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Lithgo Finni wrote:

I voted scottish labour, so I'm not an SNP guy and even I think the interview was unacceptable throughout.

  • 114.
  • At 11:41 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Ayrshire Lass wrote:

Kirsty Wark was agressive. Is she annoyed Wee Jack lost his First Minister status?

She should apologise. Robust interviewing is neccessary but this level of robustness crossed the line.

Not one of your best Kirsty.

  • 115.
  • At 11:47 AM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • John Howson wrote:

Again it just shows the BBCs New Labour bias. Name me one right wing main presenter on the BBC who gives a right wing or opposition to Labour slant on things. I dont think there is one.
The way Mr Salmon was treated was a disgrace. He had a fair point to any fair minded person. Ms Wark if anything should have been having a go at Labour for not involving Mr Salmon in this topic. Thats when you see them for the dictators they are.

  • 116.
  • At 12:12 PM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Karen wrote:

I used to have a lot of respect for Kirsty Wark - a Scottish woman who had made an impact in a very male dominated environment. When I heard of her closeness with Jack McConnell, I couldn't help feeling that this was unwise for someone who is a political correspondent.

I saw the interview and was rather bemused by Kirsty Wark's behaviour. Rather than Alex Salmond having mislead the Scottish Parliament, it came across as the BBC having poorly researched the subject and Ms Wark reverting to bluster, interruption and constant repetition of a point that Mr Salmond had done his best to answer. He apparently had made the very details available that Ms Wark claimed that he had hidden - and referred her to the transcripts of the event. It appears that the BBC just hadn't looked at them.

I'm all in favour of a robust style of questioning a la Mr Paxman - but it has to be tempered with some command of the facts of the case and also has to appear even-handed. I don't feel that this was the case here. Ms Wark was rude, interrupted and didn't appear willing to listen to the answers. Mr Salmond tried to put his points across in a calm and dignified manner, despite a lot of provocation.

All in all, I think that BBC Scotland and Ms Wark came out of this very badly. While you could certainly question some aspects of the case - it seems that Scotland will still have the final say, although perhaps with a lot of pressure to let Megrahi return to Libya - Mr Salmond seems to have put across the facts and got support from all the other parties in the Scottish Parliament. At no point was this cross party support reflected in the adversarial questioning.

  • 117.
  • At 12:32 PM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • David Brown wrote:

A classic case of an interviewer's failing to employ an essential skill in this line of work - the ability to suppress personal and political opinions in the pursuit of objectivity.

  • 118.
  • At 12:46 PM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Bruce Corlett wrote:

As usual Alex Salmond tried to bully and bluster his way through an interview.So Kirsty Walk stood up to him and at one point he looked quite unsettled as he is used to sycophancy by his supporters.
If he can't handle interviews then why take part.

  • 119.
  • At 01:18 PM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • JEFF DUNCAN wrote:

I have always found the BBC to treat Nationalist MSPs and MPs with a different tone and regard to that of pro-Union ones.

I cannot wait for the day that the BBC is no longer the national news in Scotland because it does not want to represent the views of Scotland - instead electing to do what it can to portray Scotland and her elected representatives look incapable of running their own country and affairs.

The BBC should hang its head in shame for its unnacceptable behaviour.

  • 120.
  • At 01:25 PM on 09 Jun 2007,

Perhaps Ms Wark's 'close' relationship with Jack McConnell does not enable her to behave in an impartial manner?

Is this her way of backing Mr McConnell in his recent defeat at the hands of Alex Salmond?

  • 121.
  • At 03:08 PM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Oliver Barr wrote:

What a shocking and discourteous way to conduct an interview with anyone!
Kirsty and the BBC should make an on-air apology to Alex Salmond and not least the viewers.

  • 122.
  • At 04:51 PM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Liz wrote:

I do not understand all these complaints. I have often cringed when politicians from all political parties are interviewed on Newsnight. More often than not women politicans get a rougher deal than their male counterparts even from Ms Wark. How sad that supporters of the political party this man represents had to organise complaints. They must have little confidence in their leader and their party.

Having read the newspapers on the matter the next day, I must assume that Newsnight had done their research. The questioning was therefore entirely appropriate - Mr Salmond would not answer the questions. Neither would would he cease talking even though he knew his time was up so it was a rather abrupt ending. This did come across as rude.

I also thought Mr Salmond was trying to patronise Ms Wark - speaking to her in a tone that I have never heard before. I laughed at his attempts to be a statesman. A bit difficult for me to accept having listened to some of the contributions he has made over the years.

  • 123.
  • At 06:55 PM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • Eddie Douthwaite wrote:

The BBC should have apologised on all News Bulletins rather than on their website.

  • 124.
  • At 10:27 PM on 09 Jun 2007,
  • David Grant wrote:

Of course Kirsty's not going to be nice to Eck - she's a pal o' Jack's!

  • 125.
  • At 08:43 AM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Ian Chisholm wrote:

Ms Wark's bias came across very clearly

  • 126.
  • At 10:51 AM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Ian Clelland wrote:

Alex Salmond wasn't taken to task and if he had been no one who would have complained that would have been Ms Wark's job.
No instead of taking him to task she was unprofessional and allowed her own political beliefs and lack of knowledge of the situation to cloud her judgement in the way she carried out that interview.
Alex Salmond must have sat there thinking ,this is easy as he just couldn't lose with an interview like that.
So in reality from Alex Salmonds point of view it was great interview and from Ms Warks and New Labour it was a disaster.Alex Salmond didn't have to do anything here.

  • 127.
  • At 11:14 AM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • P4J, Glasgow wrote:

I am not an SNP supporter but thought the interview was very poor.

Kirsty Wark was not just rude but seemed ill-informed, started off aggressively and continued in that way. There was no analysis of the issue, just her wanting to have a go at Salmond. You will be aware that the Scottish press are suggesting that her Labour party friendships may be clouding her impartiality. Think about it.

It just was not a good interview.

An earlier comment compared Mr Salmond's treatmet with that of other politicians. I think I am correct in saying that although Mr Blair has "endured" the searing questioning of Richard & Judy three times he has never been questioned on Newsnight. I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong about this.

  • 129.
  • At 12:26 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

At best the interview was ill-informed and unprofessional. The interviewer's lack of thorough research was crudely exposed and seemed to lead to them becoming quite agitated.

I don't think we can be confident that there was necessarily anything politically motivated in the interview. I just thought it was extremely poor and well below the normal standards for Newsnight. The interviewer and those behind the scenes who presumably assist her in terms of research should be asked to ensure there isn't a repeat performance of that nature.

  • 130.
  • At 02:22 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Ally wrote:

I have listened to Kristy Wark for many years interviewing politicians. I remember one morning she asked a multipart question of an SNP spokesman - was a man - I can't remember his name. As soon as he started to speak she said, 'Times up' in a very peremptory manner.

  • 131.
  • At 02:31 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Ged McEwan wrote:

Unfortunately I did not see the interview but this thought struck me on reading all the previous comments. Is this the same Kirsty Wark whose company mada a documentary about the creation of the Scottish Parliament building while refusing the Inquiry into the buiding's costs the opporunity to see relevant material therin and the same Kirsty that is apparently a great friend of Jack McConnell? Now I did not vote SNP but perhaps like the rest of Scottish Labour, Kirsty needs to 'get over it and move on'!

  • 132.
  • At 03:35 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • jordan wrote:

Must do better in future.

Complete lack of respect for the first minister. The questioning was fine, but the attitude and tone has to be addressed

she was rude and disrespectful.

  • 133.
  • At 04:22 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Dougie Blackwood wrote:

I only saw the latter part of the Alex Salmond iterview and was appalled at the way it ended. There may be antipathy between KW and AS but I wonder whether the producer had a part to play both at the controls and in Kisty Wark's earpiece. A bad advert for newsnight's balance and impartiality.

  • 134.
  • At 06:09 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Murray Douglas wrote:

8/10 for the BBC's response to the situation & also to Kirsty for (as I hear it) appologising personnally to AS (for this was truely a personal exchange rather than a corporate one).

It is also credible that the time pressure came from the Producer rather than Kirsty, but I would request that the First Minister be afforded time commensurate with his office rather than equal to that given to a ministerial mandarin.

After all, it's hard to imagine the Prime Minister being subject to similar ignominy.


Murray S. Douglas

  • 135.
  • At 06:20 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • John wrote:

A most ungracious and unapologetic apology from the Newsnight Editor!
The abrupt ending of the Salmond-Wark interview was the least of it - Mr Barron sidesteps the main point. Ms Wark's impartiality has been brought into question. The aggression, hostility, discourtesy and sheer anger which exuded from Kirsty Wark during this'interview' seemed to betray strong personal views about her interviewee. Don't just consider the transcript or listen again to the words; look at the facial expressions. Any 'intensity' or 'tetchiness' was Kirsty Wark's.
Should this person be covering Scottish political stories in the future?

  • 136.
  • At 06:22 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • joseph mccrory wrote:

So what action will be taking place?Is Mz Wark Lined up for a public apology and to be given an arts only / non political brief?

  • 137.
  • At 09:38 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Adrian Bart-Williams wrote:

I have to say that I have never seen Alex Salmond looks so ruffled in an interview. He must remember that he is now in government and not in opposition. I though Kirty was equally rough with the Labour Minister.

  • 138.
  • At 10:36 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Amanda Nelson wrote:

A simple technical question: was the Alex Salmond interview featured in your online video podcast? I have watched the same footage for a tedious length of time searching for it to no avail. Can you please advise?

  • 139.
  • At 11:32 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Brian Cuthbert wrote:

Are the BBC aware that Kirsty Wark is a close friend of the ousted First Minister,Jack McConnell -- so much so that both families go on holiday together? As such do her bosses really think she is the correct person to cover Scottish poltics? It is right that the BBC have apologised to Mr Salmond but I feel they should also apologise to the Scottish people for the discourteous and unprofessional treatment of their First Minister.

  • 140.
  • At 11:33 PM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Brian Fulton wrote:

Very disappointed in the lack of manners of Kirsty Wark during that "interview". Well done Alex Salmond for showing some class and keeping his cool. Alex is the First Minister chosen by the electorate of Scotland and so being deserves to be shown some respect. Very poor show by the BBC!

  • 141.
  • At 12:10 AM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

Please stop the pompous, carping about how the poor, defenseless 'First Minister' was persecuted by the 'aggressive' Kirsty Wark.

Your First Minister refused to engage with Kirsty's legitimate questioning from the start of the interview and was evasive and smug throughtout.

Alex Salmond is now in a position of responsibility and power and must account for his actions and positions on serious matters. So must you all you SNP supporters.

Get used to it.

ps. do you all refer to Tony Blair as our 'Prime Minister'? I doubt it.

  • 142.
  • At 12:18 AM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Liam wrote:

The Kirsty Ward/ Alex interview just wasn’t right. Kristy’s distain for Alex Salmond was all too apparent. Unlike some of the commentators above, I was not aware of Kirty’s political views north of the English Border but I don’t doubt for a minute that they are on the opposite end of the spectrum from Alex. Was Kirsty the best person to conduct this interview? Most likely not.

What rankled her more though? Her disagreement with Alex’s views of her inability to pin him down on any of the questions she asked/her inability to make her agenda stick or her evident lack of preparation ?

Whatever the cause, doubtless both she and the BBC will have learned from this (or we live in hope…) The BBC’s apology undoubtedly falls short but it is of little relevance. They couldn’t have played more into Alex Salmond’s hand if they tried.

  • 143.
  • At 12:37 AM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Dr Chris Hudson wrote:

I agree entirely with Comment no. 1

I have not read any of the other comments but I think what lies behind the negative attitude towards Mr Salmond is far more serious.

Is there a general perception in BBC that Mr Salmond is having a go at pushing Mr Blair out even earlier than planned?

Could staff at BBC realise their jobs may be on the line if Tessa Jowell leaves?

Could every action that might take Tessa Jowell away from you a few days early make you all hot under the collar?

  • 144.
  • At 08:18 AM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

No complaints about Kirsty Wark being aggressive in her questioning of Alex Salmond, this is part of her job. However, in this instance it was made to look over aggressive not only by the way the interview was ended, but just as much by the more passive tone she adopted with the next guest who was presenting the alternative side of the article. First time I have seen this of Ms Wark, who is normally a very good interviewer.

  • 145.
  • At 09:43 AM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Margaret wrote:

Why shouldn't the First Minister be questioned by someone who doesn't share his views?

It is exactly the job of a TV interviewer to be sceptical or are the complainers suggesting only Nationalists should be allowed to interview Alex Salmond?

It really is a charming spectacle to see the Nationalist blog mob display their maternal instincts but Alex Salmond is a big boy. If he needs to be molly coddled then he’s not fit for top office.

I’ve watched the tape and I’ve seen Paxman give Salmond a much rougher ride. Also, Alex was rambling on and on at the end (as he tends to do) which made it difficult for Kirsty to end the interview – but she did it quite politely, I thought, in the circumstances.

All this detracts from the fact that Salmond – knowing full well that al Megrahi cannot be extradited from Scotland without the approval of the Scottish judiciary - was scaremongering for cheap political ends.

The Scotsman as always closed it's discussion after 2 days after this story. It got 961 posts, a huge response and more than any other I have seen. For Wark to go on holiday with Salmonds main rival in Scotland and then attack him is unaceptable. McConnell always gets an easy ride from Wark, if she attacks it is maybe to allow him to make points elsewhere in a positive fashion.

I cannot see the BBC allowing a friend of Blairs to interview Cameron, is it just because we are in Scotland, potential bias is allowable?

  • 147.
  • At 12:20 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • George McDonald wrote:

Kirsty Wark owes Alex Salmond a proper apology. To use the victims (and families) of Pan Am 103 in attacking Salmond was a disgrace.

  • 148.
  • At 01:30 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Aidan wrote:

Kirsty Wark has demonstrated conflict of interest and the BBC would be best to remove her before she causes further embarrassment.

The BBC has a reputation for delivering unbiased information which has been deeply harmed by Kirsty Wark deep defence of the Labour party. It is clear that she has become too involved with this party and cannot present an impartial view.

The BBC should not be broadcasting any person affiliated with a political party in the guise of a journalist.

BTW, I am not a supporter of Alex Salmond. I just see the harm that the media can play when they enter politics......FOX!

  • 149.
  • At 02:04 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Alistair Goold wrote:

I am pleased that the BBC have recognised the need to apologise. However, i am thrown by the Editor's Response:

"I don't think it strayed outside the boundaries of what viewers find acceptable"

(?) I think it is unfortunate that the BBC don't recognise that this interview was incredibly poor, uninformed and totally biased on Ms Wark's part. That is what i find totally unacceptable. In which case the BBC may need to rethink what they believe to be 'acceptable'.

There is a glaringly obvious media bias against the SNP (point 80). Remember the day of the Scottish elections??? Every paper came out all guns blazin to discourage the SNP vote.

  • 150.
  • At 02:23 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • George Reddan wrote:

Not the first time Newsnight has let the mask slip. The disgraceful unprofessionalism of this interview reminded me of the Paxman/Galloway interview when Galloway also managed to unseat a Labour politician.
It seems the Newsnight team just can't contain themselves when democracy bites their Labour chums on the behind.

But thank you Newsnight for another addition to my already whopping great dossier of Labour bias at the BBC.
(I was going to write to the new BBC Chairman Sir Michael Lyons, but then remembered he’s an ex-labour man too, what a surprise!)

  • 151.
  • At 02:28 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Iain Stirling wrote:

I have just read your blog response and do not agree at all.

The BBC seem to want to "gloss over" this and the very brief apology to the First Minister was no where near being acceptable. It begs two questions:

1. Would she have spoken to Tony Blair in the same manner?
2. Would the BBC have issued such a brief apology?

The BBC cannot continue to treat Scotland, its people and its elected government in this way.

Is it not about time that the BBC made some changes at Newsnight and with a dedicated Six News in order to continue to serve the Scottish nation?

  • 152.
  • At 03:06 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

I am not a supporter of the SNP. I do not live in Scotland. Nor have I ever before telephoned a broadcaster to complain about it output. But on this occasion, the lack of professionalism, the standard of journalism, and the thinly-veiled contempt displayed by Ms Wark compelled me to do so.

And now I feel I must complain again about the disingenuous nature of your 'blog' entry. As other correspondents have correctly pointed out, the encounter was not "intense and at times tetchy", Ms Wark was - and Mr Salmond was neither "robust and challenging", he was quite reasonable (for a politician).

I have read many allegations in the past about Ms Wark's political affiliations and the conflicts of interest they throw up, both in terms of her work on Newsnight and her involvement with an independent production company regularly commissioned by the BBC. I have generally overlooked them. Now, however, I suggest you seriously consider her future involvement in the BBC's flagship news programme - and the tone that you adopt in your future 'blogs'.

  • 153.
  • At 03:40 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

I've read all of the comments above with great interest but have to say one or two of the 'commnetors' while accusing Kirsty of bias clearly let their own bias show through!

Most of the comments regardless of where in the UK the person lives roundly and rightly condem the interview however a small number appear to have decided this is an example of English bias against Scotland which it clearly isn't it!

It was plain bad manners and an inability to hide her own personnel view, not some great conspiracy against the whole Scottish nation, please do us all a favour and don't try to put words into the mouths of other people which clearly not intended, am sure you know who you are!

  • 154.
  • At 03:49 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Chris Bowie wrote:

The more I read about Kirsty Wark the more I am utterly astonished that she is an anchor for Newsnight, let alone appear in any political programme.

How can someone who runs a tv production company be truly independent in the first instance?

Secondly, how can someone who holidays with Labour politicians be independent?

Thirdly, given her production company was given lucrative contracts by Jack McConnell how can she be independent with respect to Scottish political issues?

Can someone at the beeb please tell me how this fits with your charter?

  • 155.
  • At 05:23 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Doug Gay wrote:

Having read about the controversy I have now viewed the interview myself and I want to add my voice to those who are disappointed by Kirsty Wark's performance.

As someone who often appreciates her work, I felt her disdain for Alec Salmond (driven perhaps by her own political antipathy for him) had clearly affected her judgment. A very poor journalistic performance and indicative of the way both the BBC and the Labour establishment are strugggling to adjust to changed political realities in Scotland.

The editorial apology does not go far enough - Wark's lline of questioning was so patently hostile and in the end so dismissive. She needs a good talking to.

  • 156.
  • At 08:17 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • alan robertson wrote:

I watched the interview and found Kirsty Wark's behaviour offensive from the outset. She did not appear to listen to any of the First Minister's answers and adopted a hectoring, beligerent tone throughout.

Her treatment of this subject was insulting not only to the politician himself but to the Scottish judiciary and indeed, the Scottish people. I thought her worst, most outrageous remark was the suggestion the relatives of the Lockerbie victims would be angered by Mr Salmond's actions.

I think she has fatally compromised her position as a serious political journalist by revealing her personal biase towards the Labour Party. Previous doubts are now looking like proven fact.

I have no idea of the political preferencesof Jeremy Paxman or John Humphreys. Kirsty Wark, on the other hand, is embarassingly transparent in her affiliations.
If the BBC has to employ her, should it not be outside their supposedly impartial news department?

I speak as a Scottish voter who voted against devolution in the referendum, and who does not wish to see the break up of the UK

  • 158.
  • At 09:20 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Mike Giggler wrote:

I was using my voice recgnition system to add to this blog. Unfortunately, Kirsty Wark came out as "thirsty work"! Maybe that's the reason for this personal disaster......

  • 159.
  • At 09:35 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Colkitto wrote:

Ms Wark is obviously a staunch Labour supporter. She surely cannot be trusted to be impartial. Time she was taken off political programmes.

  • 160.
  • At 10:11 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • Andrew McIntyre wrote:

I watched the interview and have read the comments on this and other blogs. The interview was far from impartial; Ms. Wark was more interested in exonerating Mr. Blair than in trying to get to the truth of the matter. The facts seem to be (judging by the revelations over the weekend) was that Mr. Blair in his eagerness to do a deal with the Colonel viewed the separate jurisdiction of Scotland as a minor impediment that could be easily swept aside, at best Mr. Blair and those who advised him have been foolish and at worst have shown a flagrant disregard for both the Act Of Union (which clearly states that the Scottish legal establishment is separate and independent of England's) and the Scotland Act which makes equally clear that matters not reserved (including matters legal) are de facto (and in this case de jure) devolved. The greater issue here is simply that a British Prime Minister has arguably broken the very laws that define the Union as it now stands. Mr. Salmond may well be spoiling for a fight but in this case Mr. Blair is at fault, he has handed the nationalists an easy target. There also remains the issue of Ms. Wark, she was a poor choice, even if she were impartial, her close personal links to the leader of the opposition in Scotland should have instantly disqualified her from an interview on so contentious an issue. The BBC prides itself on impartiality, in this instance it has at best failed the Caesar's wife test of being seen as pure as well as actually being pure and at worst allowed itself (consciously or otherwise) to be a tool of Labour. Ms. Wark's apology be e-mail, seems to me to be as insincere as it is cowardly and a curiously fitting poor end to this issue. For the record I am no nationalist, but feel that political discourse has been ill served by the BBC and Ms. Wark and the reputation of the BBC has been tarnished, if it really is going to be an effective reporter of Scottish affairs, it should do so with reporters untainted by political links as blatant as Ms. Wark’s.

The reason we would have "accepted" that excuse of an interview from Paxman is that Paxman has kept his political alegencies close to his chest. Surely asking Kirsty (who as many of the respondants above have already pointed out, has spent holidays with Jack McConnell) was not the brightest idea to come out of the Newsnight editorial meeting.

You should have done your homework on this subject, but then again when has London BBC paid more than lip service to events in Holyrood.

  • 162.
  • At 11:01 PM on 11 Jun 2007,
  • ann thewliss wrote:

I have just watched the interview online, having been directed there by a colleague. I have met Miss Wark, used her TV programmes in my teaching but I was appalled at the line taken by her interview. The First Minister came across as a measured and sensible individual, Miss Wark as an apologist for Tony Blair and the utter disregard the London parties have for a Scotland which no longer toes the Labour line. The poor performance of the Labour Party in Scotland is proof of this. Every time Blair and Brown appeared the move to the SNP got stronger! As a teacher I try to keep my politcal belefs to myself. I would remind the BBC that they have a statutory duty to be impartial. Miss Wark's political bias was clearly showing.

  • 163.
  • At 01:11 PM on 12 Jun 2007,
  • gregor Aitken wrote:

With regards to comment 153

Chris, No one at the BBC will tell you how this fits with the charter.

You raise three very good points but dont expect a reply. Then this will all happen again in 6 months time and the bbc will put up another blog on a similar subject.

We the people will be concerned about somthing similar and spend time writing comments on blogs and all for no reason.

Kirsty Wark will not lose her seat on Newsnight even if it was found out she ended up screaming at Mr. Salmond ala panorama.

Its worrying that you would be more likely to get a Minister to resign over a scandal than anyone at the bbc to stand up and take responsibility for mistakes and accept the ramifications of such mistakes.

Has the Panorama guy lost his job for insulting a persons religion, of course not. Will Kirsty feel any ill effects of her interview. Not a chance

The wark/McConnell love in has been well known in Scotland for years and i am glad it is now brought to the national attention, and once again we findout that our 4th estate has its own agenda.

Where do we go from here?

  • 164.
  • At 01:49 PM on 12 Jun 2007,
  • Margaret wrote:

A wholly inadequate response to viewers legitimate concerns by Mr. Barron.
To observe what took place and then describe Mr. Salmond as a robust and challenging interviewee almost defies belief.
Incidentally as I fully expect this communication to wing its way directly to your trash bin, may I point out that I am a housewife and mother and member of NO political party.
Your casual rejection of so many emails on this subject is in itself a cause for concern.

  • 165.
  • At 04:41 PM on 12 Jun 2007,
  • Ali wrote:

Disappointing. I think an on-air apology from Kirsty herself is in order.

  • 166.
  • At 09:22 PM on 12 Jun 2007,
  • Catherine wrote:

Peter Barron: I'm afraid I can't agree that Kirsty didn't "stray outside the boundaries of what viewers expect or find acceptable in a Newsnight interview".
My problem is not with the premise of the interview - to question Alex Salmond's (or any other politician's) actions is absolutley legitimate, but with the heated, irritable and over-emotional approach of the interviewer.
Of course Alex Salmond is a "robust and challenging interviewee" (isn't any experienced politician?) He also however came over as calm, courteous and non-confrontational.
What did surprise me is that Kirsty Wark, as an experienced presenter, appeared to have lost her cool before the interview even got underway - whatever her politics I have found her in the past to be very professional - I'm afraid the first word that springs to mind after having seen that interview is "embarrassing" - I would hope that both Kirsty Wark and Newsnight would aim a little higher in trying to provide "what viewers expect or find acceptable".

I read the interesting responses from the viewers. I suggest that they are sent the independent website so they can get more response from the BBC than they get at the moment. Personally, I would not complain too much against Newsnight because it's one of the better programmes.

  • 168.
  • At 02:47 PM on 13 Jun 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

If Mr Barron cannot see how unacceptable Ms Wark's behaviour was, perhaps the matter now needs referring to the BBC Board of Trustees to investigate.

I am English and don't have a view about Mr Salmon. I do however believe that good manners can be incorporated into robust professional interviewing.

Having watched the interview again I am satisfied that Kirsty Wark was rude and unprofessional... which interview were you watching Mr Barron?

  • 169.
  • At 03:07 PM on 13 Jun 2007,
  • Drew McMorrin wrote:

I have received your email regarding my complaint, yet I fear it does not address the main concerns of myself and most of those who complained.
I did not vote SNP at the last Holyrood elections and I am no great supporter of our Scottish Parliament. However it is there - so be it.
Ms Wark was discouteous in the extreme and having watched her interviewing politicians of all hues, in the past, it has been increasingly evident that she cannot hide her disdain for anyone not of her political persuasion - i.e. New Labour. That surely is unacceptable and it is an essential fundemental necessity in a political journalist that they at least endeavour to hide any bias. I have complained to other Broadcasters on a similar matter, for one Sky News and the Boulton - Blair connection.
In my original complaint, I did not complain about the cutting-off of Mr Salmond, I merely observed that it was an unfortunate technical glitch.I for one cannot accept that this apology of sorts, lays the matter to rest, indeed it gives Ms Wark the green light to do as she sees fit and not what your viewers wish to see - addressing the real problems.

  • 170.
  • At 06:37 PM on 13 Jun 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Having specifically requested not to be fobbed off with 'we apologised for how the interview ended,' my complaint to the Beeb has indeed been fobbed off, leading me to this article...

I have no party political persuasion, but the fact everyone bar New Labour stooges and the BBC think Wark's interview was 'robust' and not completely unprofessional and ill-researched seems to demonstrate that being pally with 1 side and loathing the other will not hold you back from a career as an impartial BBC journo

  • 171.
  • At 11:09 AM on 14 Jun 2007,
  • John Hailey wrote:


Now that you've seen the viewers responses to your apology, any chance of responding to many of the issues raised?

To begin with:

1. Will Ms. Wark be continuing to cover Scottish politics on Newsnight?
2. Do you agree or disagree with the commentators stating Ms. Wark showed her personal bias during the interview?
3. Do you still feel the content of the interview did not stray outwith acceptable boundaries? A lot of people seem to disagree with you!

I look forward to your response...

  • 172.
  • At 03:54 PM on 14 Jun 2007,
  • Ken Johnston wrote:

With regard to to the above post No.159
"At 02:47 PM on 13 Jun 2007, Richard wrote:"
I believe it is still Board of Governors, at least on BBC website.
I have done just that, as well as one to BBC Comlaints asking for a written reply, since I help pay their wages.

  • 173.
  • At 05:24 PM on 14 Jun 2007,
  • Anne McDaid wrote:

I was most disgusted to watch the Kirsty Wark - Alex Salmond interview. This interview was the most unprofessional interview I have ever seen from a so called inpartial interviewer. If this is the way Miss Wark is going to continue her interviews with the new Scottish First Minister she would be well advised to leave her own personal opinions at home or not conduct the interview. I feel that she should publicly apologise through the same medium that she publicly derided the First Minister.

  • 174.
  • At 05:28 PM on 14 Jun 2007,
  • johnc wrote:

I did note vote SNP at the recent elections, but I watched Kirsty Wark's "performance" with absolute amazement.However I had not been aware, prior to reading this blog, that she has a personal relationship with Jack McConnell. It is absolutely outrageous that she has anything to do with the BBC's reporting of Scottish politics in these circumstances. Am I paying for this sort of corrupt broadcasting? Do I live in some sort of banana republic? Sadly, the answer to both questions appears to be yes. There is not an ounce or even gram of objectivity left in the BBC.

  • 175.
  • At 10:05 PM on 17 Jun 2007,
  • Dave Ewing wrote:

Well so much for a considered response, or indeed a personal one.

The central concern I expressed was Ms Wark's apparent political bias, brought about through her close ties with the previous resident of Bute House.

Nothing in your response reassures me that the BBC will be able to be impartial politically in Scotland if Ms Wark is allowed to conduct an interview with any Scottish politician, at Westminster or at Holyrood, in the future.

Might I have the courtesy of a personal response this time please or is that too much to expect of a publicly funded organisation?

  • 176.
  • At 09:20 PM on 18 Jun 2007,
  • Robin Campbell wrote:

Having heard about Kirsty Wark's interview of Alex Salmond on Newsnight, when I was in Australia, I decided to watch a clip of it, on my return, and was taken aback to say the least. Who does she think she is...lecturing the First Minister? The disrespectful nature with which Ms Wark conducted the interview has wound me up to the extent of forcing me to find this webpage and add my objection (quite an achievement Ms Wark). Irrespective of party allegiances, he is our First Minister and at least deserves some respect. Credibility is an important thing in journalism and, in my view, Ms Wark is now struggling somewhat on that front.

  • 177.
  • At 02:20 PM on 19 Jun 2007,
  • Jason wrote:

Having just seen the interview I am amazed at the tone and bias from Kirsty Wark. I would like to lodge a complaint regarding her conduct. If she cannot remain impartial on Scottish political affairs she should be removed from that role and be replaced by someone who can.

  • 178.
  • At 12:17 AM on 23 Jun 2007,
  • John Harkins wrote:

Ms Wark lost a great deal of respect for her conduct in that interview.

Alex Salmond is the duly elected first minster of Scotland, it is his office that is to be respected and that is precisely what Ms Wark failed to do, letting slip her own Unionist mask and her own particularly nasty venom.

  • 179.
  • At 09:40 AM on 23 Jun 2007,
  • Wendy Lowe wrote:

Having been enraged by Kirsty Wark`s attitude in the Alex Salmond interview, I was likewise none too happy with the contrasting treatment of Gordon Brown on last night`s Newsnight. Tough questions were indeed asked of him, but he was allowed to prevaricate and talk around the subject, hardly ever giving a clear answer which viewers would understand -- "towering intellectual waffle!" Why was he, as future PM, not subjected to the aggressive questioning Wark-style? Were Kearney, Robinson and Davies too in awe of the Labour party to press for meaningful answers or did their BBC bosses give them a script to adhere to?

  • 180.
  • At 09:55 AM on 23 Jun 2007,
  • Chris Bradley wrote:

I am amazed at the response of the editor, he is obviously a labour party member as well. The First Minister was treated with disdain and disrespect, perhaps he and the Scottish Parlaiment should vote on wether the Scottish people should have to pay a TV licence. Straighten up your act BBC you are already outclassed in the news online, at least we can get all the news and not just the goverments views.

  • 181.
  • At 02:41 PM on 24 Jun 2007,
  • David Millar wrote:

I had read In the press and have now thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web saw the show In question.
It relates to Kirsty Wark's inquisition sorry Interview of the democratically elected First Minister Of Scotland. Anyone who was in any doubt about Ms Wark's political allegiance will have been left In no doubt after her treatment and aggressive nature towards Mr Salmond. While I wholly endorse robust and vigorous questioning to our elected officials I found Ms Wark's line one of personal belief and utter contempt. This was merely a verbal assault on Mr Salmond and furthermore she quite clearly had done no research In terms of what had been said to the Scottish Parliament over the Libyan Memorandum. Therefore my complaint regards to (A) a personal agenda of Ms Wark when she is employed by a supposed Objective broadcasting Corp and (B) Not totally clear of the facts In relation to the subject she was dealing with! I look forward to your comments on the points I raise. In addition I would like to know how many complaints you had over Ms Warks Behaviour on the said broadcast.

  • 182.
  • At 03:45 PM on 24 Jun 2007,
  • David Gow wrote:

Having complained on the BBC website, and having received the standard BBC response, it does not get away from the painfully obvious fact that Kirsty blew it big style for all to see. Her frustration at not finding any successful probe that penetrated Alex Salmond's new "Thatcher" style conversion of a slower, more laid back verbal delivery, (which of course allows that wee bit longer to chew over his famous instant replies), was clear for anyone to see. She lost it with the single word "exactly" stated with the closing venom of the "I shall have the last winning word" schoolground patter. Kirsty - you were crusty for all to see. Your lack of personal apology to Salmond betrays your mindset and has no doubt saddened many a previous admirer including myself. You have maybe succumbed to the current chattering classes within the English Press, who spew bile against the new Scottish Administration from a uneducated distance. It is noticeable that the most intent criticisms are from Scottish ex-pats who have made their bed with a career or lifestyle based in England. Interesting times indeed.
I fully expect to see the re-run of Jacobite and King Gordon supporters before long. That will sort out "Wha wouldnay fecht for Charie" alright, arf arf.

  • 183.
  • At 04:34 PM on 24 Jun 2007,
  • Colin Urquhart wrote:

Pathetic wishy-washy apology above by the producer. Kirsty Wark needs to explain herself, before she looses all credibility.

  • 184.
  • At 12:55 AM on 12 Jul 2007,
  • david mcgeachie wrote:

er, surely the point is that Kirsty is very good mates with the man Alex deposed? This doesn't seem to appear here and neither will this one... goodbye, ether...

  • 185.
  • At 11:39 PM on 22 Jul 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

164 - there are numerous posts that refer to the friendship between Kirsty and Jack. Try and keep up at the back.

  • 186.
  • At 10:13 PM on 01 Aug 2007,
  • ken taylor wrote:

I formally complained to the BBC about Warks behaviour and have not received even an acknowledgement.
They don't give a hoot about complaints. Wark was unlikely even to have been told off for her performance. Direct action is required. If you see her in the street, shout "apologise now" at her loudly

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