Thursday, 19 June 2014
Good-bye Paxman: no regrets.
I was unable to keep awake long enough to see Jeremy Paxman's final exit from Newsnight last night but I shed no tears at his departure.
He has made his reputation as an extremely well prepared and thorough interviewer, but is in fact a bully. He knows that he can be as rude as he likes, both verbally and with exaggerated facial expressions (sneers, eyes rolled up to the ceiling), knowing full well that the interviewees, some would say victims, are unable to answer in kind.
Hitting those who are unable to hit back is the tactic of the bully from the playground onwards.
It is true that we need to move on from the days of my youth when public figures were asked, reverentially and in hushed tones, if there was "Anything else you'd like to tell the public, Minister?" It's also necessary to persuade those politicians and others who are so clearly "on message" and monotonously repeating the mantra their party or departmental line, to deviate from their prepared script.
But surely this can be done without being rude. Democracy is government by discussion, which should be carried out in a civilised and respectful manner on both sides.
Paxman and his producers may take the view that this would not produce exciting television. But the audience for Newsnight has dropped by a third in the past few years. Paxman and his imitators should reflect on this.