Jonathan Dimbleby: Politicians are gaining because forensic interviews are being replaced by rude interviewers
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Jonathan Dimbleby: Politicians are gaining because forensic interviews are being replaced by rude interviewers

So far in this series of clips from the interview that the senior and seasoned BBC journalist, Jonathan Dimbleby, gave to UnHerd he’s addressed…

In today’s fourth clip (there are two more to come) the host of BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? panel programme turns to the decline of the long-form TV interview – made most famous by Brian Walden on Sunday mornings (and for those feeling nostalgic at even the mention of the great Mr W’s name here is a jog down memory lane for you). In addition to arguing that these long and forensic examinations of a politician’s policies or prospective policies added to the quality of governance, Jonathan (from 3 minutes 41 seconds) notes that the simultaneous rise of the “chippy”, even “rude” political interviewer is actually a gift to the MP or minister. Politicians know that an unnecessarily hostile interviewer helps them, because some of the audience will start to feel more sympathetic to the target of the journalistic sneer. Donald Trump’s endless attacks on the press reflect his awareness, after all, that only the press rivals him for unpopularity and untrustworthiness. Personally, I think that an increasing proportion of the public, because of the anti-politics mood, enjoys seeing their ‘overlords’ getting Paxman’d. What is true, however, is that too many interviewers like the attention of the bright lights – and that risks taking attention away from the politician’s command of the subject matter – that should be in the spotlight and, under the great Mr Walden, nearly always was.


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