Letter: The Paxman touch
Saturday 03 July 1999
Sir: Your editorial on the BBC Radio 4 Paxman-Kissinger "interview" ("Undiplomatic language", 29 June, letter, 2 July) approves of Jeremy Paxman's "calculated rudeness" as a "sure way to deflate pomposity." Yet Kissinger hardly had a chance to speak, let alone pompously.
It was nothing short of negligent of Paxman and his Start the Week producer to achieve an interview with a person whose significance in recent history is undeniable - whatever you think of his politics - and then allow him a mere 15 minutes' airtime, during which he was subjected to a barrage of accusations without the time to reply fully or enlarge on contexts.
The ritual skewering of politicians may be cathartic for their enemies, but Paxman's shallow and offensive performance served neither intellectual debate nor the listener. This sort of strutting liberal supremacism almost has one sympathising with William Hague's anti-BBC ravings. When Labour is next defeated, Tory boot-boys will doubtless capture the airwaves and duff up any old liberal in sight. Is this what we want?
The Independent may think the Kissinger confrontation was a proud example of "British interviewing"; it made this listener embarrassed to be British and depressed about the plunging standards of our broadcasting and national sense of civility.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West