But did you threaten to overrule him?
June 27, 2012 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Following junior Treasury minister Chloe Smith's disastrous performance on Newsnight regarding the Chancellor's u-turn on fuel duty, the New Statesmen presents the top five ten worst political interviews.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (41 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
British interviews, anyway.

If we expanded to the US, I doubt you could top Sarah Palin's glossalalia interview with Katie Couric.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:47 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


British interviews, anyway.

One is Seth Effrican.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:49 AM on June 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


British Non-US Anglophone interviews, anyway.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:50 AM on June 27, 2012


I love tough interviewers; it's always a breath of fresh air when they have British radio on NPR and suddenly the reporter is calling the interview subject on their shit.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


In his interview could Ed Miliban sound any more like an aristocrat rebuking peasants that have irked him by revolting on the wrong issues and at the wrong time? You expect it of the Tories, but usually those in charge of contemporary Labour are slightly better at disguising their plummy privilege in interviews.

The Shorten one is great. Especially the shots of the interviewer, who is clearly trying to process the stupidity of what he is saying and doing a noble job of not rolling his eyes or showing total disbelief that someone would go on national tv to make these statements with a straight face.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:54 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I couldn't watch the whole interview, I was cringing too much, but I'm loving the way all the criticism is on George 'submarine' Osborne for his cowardice in not going on himself.
posted by knapah at 7:55 AM on June 27, 2012


Those of us who have watched/loved The Thick of It can be doubly amused by imagining the sorts of fireworks going on at 10 Downing/Ministry before and after this interview.
posted by jmccw at 7:59 AM on June 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Cash4Lead: “If we expanded to the US, I doubt you could top Sarah Palin's glossalalia interview with Katie Couric.”

That wasn't a 'disastrous' interview at all. It was just dumb; it had no substance whatsoever, and it was easy for Palin to claim afterwards that it was just a bad moment and a crappy interviewer. That's largely because Katie Couric doesn't know what she's doing, and soft-shoed the whole thing. I would like to think that she learned her lesson when she saw how badly soft-shoeing that interview turned out, but somehow I doubt it.
posted by koeselitz at 8:02 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Paxman has the face of a man forced to listen to political inanities, incompetence, and obfuscation far too many times. It is a face of tragedy and one that has been palmed (if sometimes only in his mind) so many times that it will bear those marks forever.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:04 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


it's always a breath of fresh air when they have British radio on NPR

...I see what you did there.
posted by Mooski at 8:07 AM on June 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


No one expects the Paxman Inquisition.


(Well, at least not Chloe Smith.)
posted by Kevtaro at 8:08 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


How To Draw George Osborne
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


knapah: I couldn't watch the whole interview, I was cringing too much, but I'm loving the way all the criticism is on George 'submarine' Osborne for his cowardice in not going on himself.

Yeah, last night the online chat (ie twitter arsing about) was all about how terrible she was, but it sharply turned into slagging Osbourne for that very reason. Even Nadine Dorries got in on the action, calling Osbourne a coward for putting her up. Needless to say, it's shitty, spineless behaviour of the highest order from Osbourne, but then every time something goes wrong, one of this shower always throws a woman (Smith; Warsi) or an oik special adviser (Adam Smith) to the wolves rather than take the blame as they rightly should.

Thing is, that was the THIRD interview yesterday where she was put up like a lamb in front of the lions; she'd already done PM on Radio 4 at 5 and Channel 4 news at 7. It really says something about Osbourne that he's prepared to put someone so young and inexperience through three savagings in the course of five or six hours. And you know what? For as awful as it was to watch – and it was awful; nice use of the term "omnishambles" from Paxman, straight from the writers of The Thick of it –she coped pretty well with the total lack of material she was obviously given by her superiors. I mean, the woman is less than six weeks out her 20s and she's being savaged by Paxman on TV's most prestigious news programme, and had obviously only had it sprung on her that afternoon. From that point of view I thought it could have been much, much worse.

(Not that I could feel sorry for a Tory minister though – that would be taking it a little bit too far.)

Oh, and since it's now obligatory for me to link this in case nobody's yet seen it: Paxman vs Ann Coulter. Seven Minutes of Madness, as Coldcut might say.
posted by Len at 8:14 AM on June 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


That's not the way you talk to Pazzer ...
posted by carter at 8:18 AM on June 27, 2012


I think we all know what the best political interview of all time is.
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:38 AM on June 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


I mean, the woman is less than six weeks out her 20s and she's being savaged by Paxman on TV's most prestigious news programme, and had obviously only had it sprung on her that afternoon.

So she's, what, two weeks younger than I am? Hardly William Hague as a teenager at the Tory Party conference. She's not a child, and either she's less than competent at her job (a large part of which is communications and being able to hold one's own in the face of criticism - which, god knows, this government ought to be seeing a lot more of) or her team are allowing her to appear so. Given that the (IMO) extremely poor and divisive decisions made by this government need to stand up to scrutiny, this is unforgivable.
posted by mippy at 8:41 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am not particularly familiar with British television or radio interviews. With that in mind, would the more personal attacks aimed at Chloe Smith be considered normal for that type of interview?

I found it quite refreshing to see a news host call out the guest on their obvious attempts at hand waving and question avoidance, but the personal attacks seemed out of place and well beneath all parties involved. I suppose I'm just curious if a British audience (and perhaps even Chloe Smith) would have been accustomed to and expected those remarks, or if they would have been seen out of the ordinary.
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 8:44 AM on June 27, 2012


They brought Emma Jones onto Question Time once. Never heard of her? That's because she was previously the editor of Smash Hits (continuing the decline begun by Kate Thornton, who as far as I'm concerned might as well have pissed on my childhood) and then chosen by The Sun as the 'voice of youth'. I think that was the worst performance I've seen on a political show.
posted by mippy at 8:44 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


IHKAS1984 - Paxman is very abrasive. It's his stock in trade, and it's why he does what he does. He is a known curmudgeon.

(I used to work in news subtitling and had to contact Newsnight for some scripts and such, and ended up chatting to him on the internal messaging system about biscuits. Made a tired late shift much more fun.)
posted by mippy at 8:46 AM on June 27, 2012


I think it does happen more over here, though - John Humphries can be quite confrontational, as can Stephen Nolan on Five Live (who gets so shouty I imagine him blasting himself out of his chair as he takes the mike). I think the exception for news programmes is Jeremy Vine, who presents a news/current affairs show on Radio 2 - but I think part of this is personality and part of this is because it's a lunchtime show on an oldies station.
posted by mippy at 8:51 AM on June 27, 2012


"We need a futile gesture at this stage- it will raise the whole tone of the war. Get up in a crate, Smithy. Pop over to Bremen, take a shufti...don't come back.

Good-bye Smithy. God, I wish I was going too."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:53 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Regarding The Thick of It, there is always this gem from the series where a junior minister is sent to Newsnight to announce something, only to be told at the last minute that the project is cancelled. The similarity hasn't gone unnoticed.
posted by maledictory at 9:00 AM on June 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Paxman is very abrasive. It's his stock in trade, and it's why he does what he does. He is a known curmudgeon.

Can get very shitty about his y-fronts. He's been coasting a long time though, being though on acceptable targets (junior ministers like this one, opposition leaders, non-mainstream politicians like Galloway, other people largely outside the Westminister power bubble), not so much on the really powerful figures.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:01 AM on June 27, 2012


George Osborne hasn't been interviewed by Paxman since 2009, as far as I know. Osborne was clearly spooked by the experience. No wonder he'll do anything to avoid it.

Like Chloe Smith, Osborne doesn't have the natural wit to deal with tough questioning.

The great Dennis Skinner summed up Osborne best: a man educated beyond his intelligence.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 9:07 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


mippy: So she's, what, two weeks younger than I am? Hardly William Hague as a teenager at the Tory Party conference. She's not a child, and either she's less than competent at her job (a large part of which is communications and being able to hold one's own in the face of criticism - which, god knows, this government ought to be seeing a lot more of) or her team are allowing her to appear so.

Oh, I agree. Just wanted to point out that I've seen many, many politicians with decades more experience than Smith go up against Paxman – or Humprhys or Mair on the radio – and fall to fucking bits in a way that she managed to avoid. When I said I though she wasn't too bad, I meant from her point of view, certainly not from mine! I think it's unforgivable that she was put in this position for the exact reason you mention – this shit needs much more scrutiny than a stammering Treasury minister trying to fend off Paxman. It damn well should have been Osbourne on there last night, and he should have been given a politucal fucking kicking for pulling out a major piece of nonsense without thinking it through.

Which is their modus operandi: they've clearly got no long term strategic planning, and are just flailing about, in over their heads and panicking because the economy is – surprise surprise – tanking, as predicted by everyone who said that the austerity measures stuff was completel and utter rot. So they make some idiotic announcement – u turns on Budget stuff, be it pasties, skips or petrol; Gove's lunatic plan to bring back O Levels (and within two years, at that!); take your pick – and then run for cover, sending in the footsoldiers in their place..

It's the Douglas Haig method – a war of attrition while you sit and sip port in comfort. (Not so coincididental fact: the "Butcher of the Somme", as Haig was called was – you guessed it – a member of the Bullingdon Club, just like Cameron and Osbourne!)
posted by Len at 9:13 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Malcolm Tucker: Ah, Paxo, I'll miss him when he has that massive coronary.
posted by Elmore at 9:22 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Len,

I think you meant to link to Douglas Haig.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:49 AM on June 27, 2012


Well, I fucked up the link to his wiki page, but that one sums up the relevant points.
posted by Len at 9:59 AM on June 27, 2012


"Was it before lunch or after?"

Oh my god. Never be on TV.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:00 AM on June 27, 2012


The thing is Paxman's a wanker, but he's on our side. Politicians can't be trusted to tell the truth if their mothers' lives depended on it so sometimes folk have to be unreasonable to get a straight answer (or at least make it clear that a straight answer isn't being given). And while I feel a little sorry for Smith, it's only because she's been put up as some sacrificial bint by a bunch of twats, not for that she's a politician too.
posted by Jehan at 10:13 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: That wasn't a 'disastrous' interview at all. It was just dumb; it had no substance whatsoever, and it was easy for Palin to claim afterwards that it was just a bad moment and a crappy interviewer. That's largely because Katie Couric doesn't know what she's doing, and soft-shoed the whole thing. I would like to think that she learned her lesson when she saw how badly soft-shoeing that interview turned out, but somehow I doubt it.
We have radically different impressions of that interview, and of Katie Couric.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:02 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do have to admire the hypothesis that she did brilliantly, depressing though it was. I do think that the fuel duty cut is inappropriate at this time, and regressive in addition.
posted by ambrosen at 12:24 PM on June 27, 2012


Was that terrible? I don't think she was terrible. She is young, and a woman, so she was naturally at a disadvantage against an older more experienced man. And a man with a absolutely fearsome reputation. And she was in a very difficult situation with the Government U-turn.

So I think she did really fucking well, to be honest. She keeps her voice steady, keeps going, avoids falling into his traps, refuses to go his direction. Her body language is quite conciliatory, which doesn't help her "win", but if she'd been stronger she'd no doubt have been condemned as an unfeeling Tory bitch (see: Thatcher and the way she is loathed).

Such is the patriarchy.
posted by alasdair at 1:39 PM on June 27, 2012


I find it odd that you point out she is 'naturally disadvantaged' due to being 'young, and a woman' and then say 'such is the patriarchy'. Yes, Westminster is a boys' club, but you do her a disservice by claiming her gender disadvantages her. Paxman is Paxman, but remember Kirsty Wark anchors Newsnight too, and I doubt she'd have given Smith an easy ride.

(Also - plenty of women, and plenty of feminists of all genders hate Thatcher for nothing connected to her gender. I know many who feel that her reign of misery will seriously poison the chances of any future female PM candidates while it still remains in living memory. Such is the patriarchy.)
posted by mippy at 1:55 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gah, grammar fail. I blame St Agur. I'm on a CHEESE HIGH.
posted by mippy at 2:01 PM on June 27, 2012


British conservatives are as fuckwitted as American ones. Good to know.
posted by bardic at 7:59 PM on June 27, 2012


alasdair: " She is young, and a woman, so she was naturally at a disadvantage against an older more experienced man."

What. The. Fuck?

Wow. Metafilter has seen it's share of sexist statements, but that takes the cake.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:57 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


The fact that is was a U-turn was known. The point that the decision had been sprung on the rest of the government is obvious and could have been made with a single sentence. As could the idea that U-turns diminish credibility.

But there are serious questions that were left unasked: particularly whether the UK government is having second thoughts about pursuing austerity in the face of an enduring economic decline. And whether the pressures they are facing are due to warnings from the BoE, Treasury, backbenchers or polls.

The government sent a very junior frontbencher in to defend a hasty backdown. That was clear the moment the interview started. What information did he elicit? Paxman chose theatre.
posted by hawthorne at 5:17 AM on June 28, 2012


What information did he elicit? Paxman chose theatre.
I think this is only half true. He demonstrated the government would not give straight answers (were you told before lunch?) to simple questions in a way that cuts through to even the non-political classes.
I often listen to radio interviews where the journalist does what you advocate, and that second long pause in response to such an inane response is great for political tragics, but to a casual listener it often sails over their head.
Paxman's blunt instrument is entertaining when used sparingly, but also devastatingly effective in the right circumstance (cf. Thatcher and the Falklands war interview).
posted by bystander at 3:19 PM on June 28, 2012


Here's my favorite Paxman interview, where a Welshman calls him out on not knowing what the hell he's talking about.

My second favorite Paxman interview is a fake. "He spelled 'just' with four Js!"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:54 AM on July 1, 2012


Why Jeremy Paxman IS God

I'd forgotten about the weather forecasts... utterly sublime.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:27 PM on July 1, 2012


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