A TALE OF TWO INTERVIEWS

B-BBC favourite Andrew Marr gave his fellow BBC interviewers a masterclass this morning in how to be biased.

He interviewed both the chancellor George Osborne and the new shadow chancellor Alan Johnson. Compare the introductions to each each interview and you will get a very good idea of what the actual interviews were like:

Johnson:

“Well from one legendary rocker to another. No, not quite. But though the new shadow chancellor is a rock n’ roll enthusiast from his early
days and he’s said from time to time that politics is just a sideline, he’s risen pretty fast. Alan Johnson came through the trades union movement, declined to go for the Labour leadership and he was Ed Miliband’s surprise choice for the top economics job. He said he was rushing off to get his economics primer. Anyway, he’s read the economics primer now and he’s with me now. Welcome!”

Osborne (following straight on from the Johnson interview):

“So that is the case for the prosecution – that the cuts are too drastic, that they’re irresponsible, they’ll damage the recovery, and that they’re unfair on the poorest I suppose as well, erm..driven by ideological zeal even. Well, there is another line of attack emerging which says that they’re simply too ambitious and in practise they won’t achieve the kind of money that they’re intended too, that all the tough talk from John..George Osborne is indeed just talk. Well, the chancellor of the exchequer is here to respond to all of those things now. Welcome!”

You won’t be surprised that Andrew Marr was laughing and Alan Johnson grinning broadly at the former and that George Osborne wore a very strained expression as he listened to the latter (though he didn’t protest about it).

How the interviews ended is similarly revealing:

Johnson: “All right, for now, Alan Johnson. Thank you very much.”

Osborne: “Politicians always talk about what they’re going to spend money on, not what they’re going to cut! But thank you very much indeed chancellor. Over to Louise for the news headlines.”

Yes, the Johnson interview ended with smiles all round but the Osborne interview ended with Marr telling Osborne off and giving him no chance to respond.

The Alan Johnson interview as a whole was very soft, with just 6 interruptions, passing quickly over his lack of economic expertise. The George Osborne interview, however, was a tough one with 28 interruptions.

When Alan Johnson talked of this seeming to be an L-shaped recession with the economy dragging along the bottom, adding that we could face a Japanese-style ‘lost decade’, Marr chipped in supportively, “That’s the danger!”

The main danger for the Conservatives is that that keep allowing partisan BBC hacks like Andrew Marr to keep skewing the news agenda against them.

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41 Responses to A TALE OF TWO INTERVIEWS

  1. Will says:

    Very much at the other end of the BBC food chain (!!?), but similar bias from Fatty Nolan on R5. Last night’s midnight paper review had a 2 man panel of a self confessed lefty & that dangerous right winger Iain Dale. This was not sufficient for Fatty & he brought in a “random” caller. this caller was obviously not your average Joe Public as he got more & more strident with tracktor production startistics, boosting McDoom & damning the evil Tories. Fatty was impressed by this & declared a gotcha to Mrs Dale. Dale laughed this off declaring that the caller was obviously a Labour press officer. The pity is that he didn’t go further & accuse the BBC as being knowingly complicit in the Labour propaganda.

       0 likes

    • Craig says:

      Yes, and Nolan used that “you lot” again to Iain Dale, meaning the Tories, while doing so.  

      ‘Universal’ Mehdi Hasan was the lefty, agreeing with Nolan that the government’s proposals to go after benefit cheats were (in Nolan’s words) “very populist”.

      Nolan brought up the Sunday Telegraph‘s lead story about the three peers suspended over their expenses. None of them saw fit to mention that one is a cross-bencher and the other two are Labour peers. Mehdi Hasan quickly changed the subject to attack David Laws (not involved in the story).

         1 likes

  2. john in cheshire says:

    I wish someone would, on air, tell Marr that he’s a piece of shit. In fact, it would be wonderful to see someone land a very hard punch on his ugly, smug face.

       1 likes

    • hippiepooter says:

      The former might be understandable, the latter would most certainly be extremely regrettable.

         0 likes

  3. Martin says:

    Don’t care, if Osborne is so effing stupid to sit there and take it (like most Tories) then they deserve all they get.

       1 likes

    • john says:

      Martin – agreed !

      I know that politicians from both sides work the printed press, be they hostile or favourable.
      The public has a choice as to whether or not to purchase a particular newspaper.

      The public does not have a choice but to purchase should they want to watch and listen to a politician on TV.
      Be it Sky News, ITN, CNN, RT etc, you run the risk of a heavy fine / and or imprisonment if you don’t buy every year a licence for something you consider so risable and so anti your own political views you don’t even watch it !

      I have purposely made this point in “Janet and John” for any clueless Tory MP’s becoming Stage Struck at Broadcasting House.
      Or if you like – I’ll put it another way :
      There is no need what so ever to appear on the BBC.

      Unless your an Eric Pickles, stick with all the other networks.

         0 likes

  4. john in cheshire says:

    Martin, it’s not that I have any positive feelings for Mr Osborne. It is that the likes of Marr think they can behave as they like without any sanctions against them. I think the ‘orrible bbc type is in fear of no one and that’s why they do what they do. A little fear in their lives might just clarify their thoughts and attitude.

       0 likes

    • Martin says:

      I agree John, but the Tories get this up the backside from the BBC day in and day out. Craig’s stats on bias alone should have the Tories demanding the BBC at least keep proper records to prove they are balanced in their output. But the Tories don’t even demand that.

         0 likes

    • hippiepooter says:

      Craig talked about the ‘main danger’ of the Tories doing nothing.  That isn’t a ‘main danger’, it’s an absolute certainty.  We’ve been watching the gradual disintegration of our country for decades now, and it crumbling now at an alarming rate with no sign the Tories are going to stop it by being *Real Tories.

         0 likes

  5. TDK notarealname says:

    Not that I disagree with you but this sort of stuff would be more effective if you compared the Osborne interview now with a Brown interview in 1998. Both at the start of government. 

    The reason why I say that is that there is a difference between interviewing the government and a party. I expect journalists to be more critical of government if only because it notionally has the power.

    Where I think bias comes in is that when the BBC interviews Conservatives the narrative comes from the left. When the BBC interviews Labour the narrative comes from further left. The default interview with Labour comes across as the criticism that they aren’t doing enough, or quickly enough, or spending enough. You NEVER hear the criticism that maybe this is something that government shouldn’t do.

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    • Craig says:

      I agree completely. I will try to look (on YouTube?) for BBC interviews with Brown from the late 1990s, long before Marr got his Sunday show. Andrew Marr, however, failed to attack the government more than the opposition in the year leading up to the general election.

      On 21 March Marr interviewed both Alistair Darling and Philip Hammond. Marr introduced Darling by saying “Last week’s better than expected figures on the public deficit does make Wednesday’s budget more intriguing that it might otherwise have been.Well. I’m joined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer now. Welcome!”

      The first question was then bowled, underarm: “Let’s start by asking about the bank issue, the bank tax. Your government has said pretty clearly that you want to move by international agreement. The Conservatives have said they will move on a bank levy even if there isn’t international agreement. Don’t they have a point that it’s time to take a lead on this?”

      Compare that to the treatment handed out beforehand to his Conservative shadow Philip Hammond.
      *
      There were no warm introductory words here, only mischief-making: “The Conservative said if they win the general election they would introduce a unilateral tax on banks regardless of whether or not it gets international agreement. That will be news, or would have been news, to the Chief Secretary of (sic) the Treasury Philip Hammond because…shadow chief secretary I should say…because this is what he said not so long ago, a few weeks ago, on Newsnight.”

      A clip followed of Mr Hammond (being harried by Jeremy Paxman) saying that international agreement would be necessary before such a tax was brought in here. Fair enough, you might say, but surely only if a similar embarrassing clip had been played before Alistair Darling’s interview – there must be a large stock of such clips where the chancellor said one thing then and another thing now! No, the trap was set just for the Tory.
      *
      When the clip ended, Marr turned to Mr Hammond and said “Philip Hammond joins me now.” He didn’t get any ‘welcome!’ Mr Hammond nonetheless politely said “Good morning”, but he got nothing in return – except the first question, which was bowled fast: “So a huge change of tack. Why?”
      *
      Also, comparing how Marr behaved during the first answers given by each interviewee, Mr Hammond’s was interrupted after just twenty seconds. Mr Darling’s first answer, which culminated – as the question clearly invited it to do – in an attack on the Tories, lasted exactly 1 minute 22 seconds, uninterrupted!! Several more very long, interrupted answers were to come and Marr’s first interruption came with an apology for interrupting! Marr’s holding back during this part of the interview – where the economy was discussed at length – was something to behold. Only when the trivia of politics was discussed (for just one minute) did two trivial interruptions come flying in close succession.
      *
      Comparing the timings each got, Alistair Darling got twice as long as Philip Hammond (13 minutes on the dot to just under 6 1/2 minutes for Mr Hammond). Yet he was far less closely questioned, receiving 15 questions in that time as compared to 12 questions for Mr Hammond. Mr Hammond was questioned in detail, Mr Darling more generally.
      *
      You’re right though, I should have offered a comparison.

      Marr also kept puffing up Darling’s one correct prediction but never attacked him for all his wrong predictions;

      “You famously gave a gloomy but accurate account of what might be coming ahead of the recession as it was about to hit us and you were pretty much proved right…”

      When Marr said that Darling smiled – as well he might!

         1 likes

    • NotaSheep says:

      I think you will find that the BBC were gentler on the last Labour government. Craig do you have the figures?

         0 likes

  6. RGH says:

    Going after benefit cheats is, according to Nolan, ‘very populist. Populist is a word, in BBC land, with negative connotation.

    This is what the Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘populism’ to be:

     “political ideas and activities that are intended to represent ordinary people’s needs and wishes”.

    Populism is always seen as the opposite to ‘statism’, which holds that a small group of professional politicians (an elite) know better than the people and should make decisions on behalf of it.

    Does it surprise anyone the Beeboid has anxiety issues when it suspects that populism is a mortal threat to its elitist, protected status.?

       1 likes

    • John Horne Tooke says:

      I have often pondered that. Surely “populism” is more democratic than”statism”.  Silivio Belasconi is often labeled as being “populist” as is Geert Wilders.

         0 likes

      • hippiepooter says:

        In BBC speak it means appealing to the baser instincts of the mob, which of course they know most of us dont want to think of ourselves as being a part of.  Maybe each time the BBC resort to an underhand use of this phrase the interviewee should counter with the phrase ‘thought policing’.

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    • Martin says:

      Nolan is a fat vile tosser of the biggest degree. He weighs something like 28 stone, the man is a human joke. I’ve dropped more intelligent things down the toilet pan in the morning than Nolan, better looking as well.

         0 likes

  7. Cassandra King says:

    Heres my take on the interview and dont be surprised if you hate it 😛 .

    Here come the new touchy feely modern progressive ‘tories’ they spent years moving their tent to the left and still its not enough for the BBC. They elected the most left wing leader so sopping wet he makes Heath look hard. Pro federal EU on the quiet to placate their hated grassroots throwing them the odd scrap of worthless promises to stand upto the EU monster.
    They ring fence the leftist progressive income streams like foreign aid and EU funding and quango funding which despite their promises of a ‘bonfire of the quangos’ will hardly be touched and still its not enough for the BBC.
    They quietly go about integrating our Armed Forces into an embryonic EU federal Armed Forces, they kow tow to the supreme foreign secretary Catherine Ashton and still its not enough for the BBC.

    This coalition of the progressive left/centre are surprised that after all they have done to move left they are still hated like poison by the BBC, they cannot understand why the BBC still hates them after all the moves to the left and all the betrayals of their grassroots.
    The coalition isnt tory, its run by wet centre left progresives and those tokens they added they made sure they were bought off first ALA hague and his ‘nice friend’ he wasnt about to make trouble was he?

    So the tories have betrayed everyone they made promises to, their grasaroots and the electorate that hoped for a real tory regime, they are selling us out to the EU as fast as they can with that scumbag Ashton flouncing around as if she owned the UK.
    The cuts ooooh yes those cuts! It turns out that WE pay the price while they reap the rewards and their beloved new world order still enjoys the flow of taxpayers money and to top it off spending will actually rise to accomodate all the spending on the things they claimed they would slash.
    Its going to be known as the great betrayal and the fake tories are moving as fast as they can to cement us into the EU federal superstate before their first term is up. So thats why the tories cannot understand why the BBC hates them, they are doing everything on te BBC political wish list and still its not enough.

       0 likes

    • Craig says:

      I wouldn’t hate anything you write, Cassandra! 🙂

         0 likes

      • Cassandra King says:

        Thanks Craig :-[ .

        Oh and BTW & FWIW regarding the planned betrayal by the fake tories, the Royal Navys carriers WILL be doing what I have claimed for the last several years and that is buying French Rafale fighter bombers instead of the F35 but even I never thought the fake tories would stoop to allowing the French to use/share them.
        So there you have the ultimate stitch up and betrayal as the coalition hands over our sovereign forces to a foreign empire. British interests? Not anymore Euro comrades, now we have only European interests and who thinks the Eurotrash overlords will give two rancid sh*ts if our interests around the world are threatened?
        From Nelson to nothing in two hundred years, the Island race that built an empire sold out to live the shame of being a minor region in a Eurotrash empire and brought to us by the tories, not beaten in a glorious last stand fight but sold out by grubby traitors.

           0 likes

    • Millie Tant says:

      I’m still happy every single day that we do not have to suffer Brown and Labour. It’s not ideal of course, but immensely better than enduring another day under the Labour cosh.

         0 likes

      • Demon1001 says:

        Millie Tant, that’s the dilemma.  I fully agree with what you say, but I feel totally disenfranchised as none of the main-stream parties are playing the decency and democratic lines, they are all paying tribute to their BBC and EU overlords.  Where I do agree is that however poor  this lot are they are still an improvement on the evil liars that went before. 

           0 likes

      • Cassandra King says:

        I know how you feel Millie but the biggest lie we have ever been sold is that the coalition has different overarching strategic goals than newliebore, icky bitty squables over petty made up differences have been blown up by a client MSM. One side whinning about the cuts being too deep when they would have cut the same things.

        Forget the little made up squabbles and concentrate on the big big issues and I dont see any difference, its almost as if the identical aims have to be hidden by party theatrics, Punch&Judy with the puppet master behind the curtain working them both.
        The CAGW fraud, the EU,the quangos,the foreign aid,the NHS, the suffocating state,the charity scam, the UN corruption. Its all the same party aims.
        The gigantic crippling national debt and the two parties are moaning about taking a fraction off here and adding another shed load there, look beyond the flimflam and what do you see?
        A point not advertised is that now the UK is lumbered with a two party state where you vote for the coalition or labour and what is the likelyhood of any other party getting a look in now? Is that the democracy we wanted?
        Hey voters, heres a great new deal for you and you are gonna love it.
        You can either vote for a social progressive centrist euro party OR if you feel like a change you can vote for a social progressive centrist euro party! Now what could be more democratic than that?

           0 likes

    • NotaSheep says:

      Why did you think we wouldn’t like that? I think a lot of us realise that this Conservative are not the answer, or rather if they are it’s the wrong question.

         0 likes

      • Cassandra King says:

        Dear Notasheep,

        I took a lot of flak in the run up to and from his election as leader because I saw the dangers of Cameron and I can understand that many tories still cannot bring themselves to see the great betrayal.
        Even I hoped against hope that I was dead wrong and in spite of the evidence my predictions would fall apart, they didnt did they? This new monster in No10 is the same gang that were booted out, out they go and in they come wearing different masks.
        Did the BBC report on the EU demand for more UK tribute? Did the BBC report on the coalitions anti democratic attempts to squash dissent as they eagerly agreed to provide ALL the extra funds to their EU masters?
        Funding squeeze? What funding squeeze? Plenty of money available for the EU, no problem there at all! I cannot remember the BBC asking why extra money is freely available for the EU when defence has to be slashed while we are at war can you?
        The question is why did Cameron so quietly enable and direct the extra EU funding with such eagerness and why did the BBC seem unable to report the facts?
        There is something ugly about the coalition isnt there? Whenever I see and hear them the hairs on the back of my neck do a dance, I get that feeling you get when walking in a dark room at night.
        From day one I have seen in Cameron something quite horrible, its as if he has covered himself in a false cloak but underneath this cloak is an ugly writhing dark evil, looking at him and all the others around him makes me quite nervous and uneasy and not a little sick.

        I hope I am wrong still, I hope my fears are just the after effects of the cherry brandy 😀 and late nights.

           0 likes

    • NotaSheep says:

      The point is that the Conservatives can never move far enough left for the BBC. They need a hate party and the conservatives are that party. It’s pointless trying to appease the beast, the beast needs to be de-clawed.

         0 likes

  8. Craig says:

    Going back a little further…on 28th Feb 2010 biased BBC interviewer (and Blogosphere hater…for some reason) Andrew Marr had George Osborne and Peter Hain on his show. He relentlessly harried Osborne over cuts (even though Osborne wasn’t in government), repeatedly telling him he wasn’t being clear about his policy, and attacked him over Lord Ashcroft.

    By way of contrast, Marr joked with government minister Hain and began by asking him why the Tory lead over Labour had shrunk! He went on to ask him when he thought the general election date would be and what he thought of the Lib Dems. And that was it! No questions about the economy, none about a lack of clarity from Labour over spending cuts, nothing about questionable Labour donors, nothing about anything of substance whatsoever – just a load of easy, trivial questions and lots of space for the Labour minister to go on and on and on about the ‘right-wing reactionary Tories’.

    Earlier in the show Marr had said he’d be talking to Peter Hain about “unemployment, bankruptcies, huge debt levels, all of that.” He talked to Peter Hain about none of that! 


    Going back to last year, Alistair Darling was interviewed on 26th July. Marr began again by praising the Labour chancellor (without reminding viewers of all Darling’s wrong predictions) and interrupted him just 8 times:

    Alistair Darling gave an interview, you may recall, last summer in which he warned us of very hard times. He was much mocked and briefed against for doing that but, of course, he was right, wasn’t he?”

    The week before he’d interrupted George Osborne 17 times, and peppered the interview with plenty of sarcasm (“Easy to say..!” ,  “That’s what I’m asking about!”,   “Well, let’s move on from talking about telling the public the truth to telling the public the truth!”,
     “If I’ve heard them all before let’s move on…with respect.”)

    Marr has been at this game for some time!

       0 likes

    • NotaSheep says:

      The figures are clear and yet the BBC claim they are unbiased and the Conservatives do nothing.

         0 likes

  9. John Anderson says:

    and Marr’s wife completes the biased double-act.

    The BBC really stinks of bias.  And latterly Craig has been documenting it in a forensic manner – running the checks that Mark Byford should require as Deputy D-G with specific responsibity (since the Hutton report) for overall editorial control. 

    So the D-G (and the BBC Trust) rely on Byford for ensuring balance.  And he in turn depends on Helen Boaden – now being tipped as a candidate for D-G.

    ……………………………….

    Next week we have the “cuts”.  The bloody BBC refuses even to accept the economic case for cuts – they’d prefer the Obama approach of steering faster towards yet more crippling debt and bankruptcy.

    Lots of people I know who are not supporters of the Coalition willingly accept that drastic cuts are necessary.  Indeed vital, imperative.   Only overpaid clowns feather-bedded by us at the BBC can’t see this.

       0 likes

  10. freddo41 says:

    Not to mention . . .

       0 likes

  11. Martin says:

    Robert Peston just made an utter prick of himself on the 10pm news. He was talking about a letter signed by 35 business leaders of some of the biggest UK companies (that would be what we call wealth creators Peston) backing Osborne’s cuts to the bloated state. Peston sneers at the letter suggesting that these people are not economists and just because cuts might be good for an over stretched company it’s not good for an economy and that these people ARE NOT ECONOMISTS.

    Hmm, so remind me Peston, what qualifications does Alan Johnson have again other than he once played Postman Pat?

    And didn’t the IMF back Osborne’s plans to cut? Are they wasters as well Peston?

    Peston really is a sneering prick, he sits in his chair leans back with his stiff neck and looks like an utter tool.

       0 likes

  12. Johnny Norfolk says:

    If ever you wanted proof of BBC bias this was it. You would think Labour had nothing to do with the cuts and they have caused it.

       0 likes

  13. Dez says:

    Alan Johnson got 10 minutes of air time. George Osborne got 15 minutes. How come you didn’t mention this? I thought this site was concerned with bias?

       0 likes

    • Cassandra King says:

      Dez,

      Obsbourne got 15mins because he was attacked and made to account for every tiny flaw and he was interupted more than Johnson and if you were to add up the interuptions alone my guess is that it would add upto more that 5mins.
      The problem is that the BBC comrades have never asked the difficult questions that labour need to answer, the BBC has in effect given labour a free pass and wiped the historical slate clean.
      Labour caused the crash and yet the past is invisible to the BBC whereas the tories are made to remember their errors in exact detail going back decades.
      For labour there is a year zero but for the tories there is an ongoing BBC forensic dissection of their record going back to Thatcher. Labour are given a free pass while the tories are made to squirm fro every error and mistake.

      I am not a fan of the tories Dez but the facts are clear, the BBC are biased and they do give help and assistance to labour.

         0 likes

  14. Guest Who says:

    Whatever happened to the reply function to Marrshmallow’s show feedback (questionably useful as it was ‘we want your views and will share those we like’)?

    Speaking of broadcast only, I saw this on the latest Nick R post, but was sadly unable to respond as, surprise, it got pulled at 40-odd.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/2010/10/good_news_for_s.html#comments

    <i><b>29. At 5:43pm on 16 Oct 2010GillieBollie wrote</b>:

    Just a general comment. I am fed up to the back teeth of every Con/Lib response to every question being about the mess the previous government left us in. </i>

     

    There is some merit to this, and the new administration can’t milk it forever, but as I watch some dour Scots Labour entity (called Jim Murphy) sanctimoniously intone about the ‘threats to our boys’ with no comeback on how his recent ex-boss gutted the country, and especially the armed forces, over the last 13 years is, truly, pathetic.

       0 likes

  15. hippiepooter says:

    Am I presuming too much to assume that not one BBC interviewer has had a go at Osborne for the obscenity of making defence cuts at time of war?  
     
    Peter Hitchens highlighted something I should have thought of but hadn’t, the amount of money we squander on ‘university’ education.  I think with all the dross that passes itself of as a ‘university education’ we could university places by at *least two thirds and shut down lots of universities too.  We can then restore ‘A’ Levels to the gold standard they once were to give a first class education to those who dont get to university and make sure the best of the rest do.  
     
    Worth a read … Dont expect any BBC interviewer to be suggesting this ..  
     
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1321137/PETER-HITCHENS-Is-university-really-good-thing-I-spent-years-learning-Trot.html

       0 likes