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.
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