Leading article: Some tough questions for the BBC

Share
Related Topics

Madonna appeared in a much-promoted interview on BBC2's Newsnight on Wednesday to talk about her adoption of the 13-month-old David Banda from Malawi. The arguments about the adoption have been well rehearsed. And there can be almost no one who does not have an opinion. Our view is that David probably has a better future in Madonna's family than if he had remained in the orphanage. This is why - on balance - we supported her.

But the Newsnight interview sets off a whole new controversy, which is less about Madonna than about the BBC and the accommodation by the media of celebrity. It is not hard to divine why Madonna (or her advisers) might have favoured an appearance on Newsnight. Britain is where Madonna has settled, and Newsnight viewers reflect a very different social demographic from the global audience for Oprah Winfrey. If you want to speak to members of this country's political and intellectual elite, this is one place to find them.

It appears, from the BBC's account, that Madonna had been approached much earlier about an interview for a series on high-profile women that the presenter, Kirsty Wark, was preparing. According to the BBC, Madonna had refused to take part, but agreed when approached again when the adoption furore was at its height. In other words, it was the corporation that had approached Madonna, not vice versa - although, in accepting, she surely appreciated the value of the forum on offer.

That the impetus came from the BBC, however, poses serious questions of its own. This was a "soft" interview, clearly conducted on Madonna's terms, from the candlelight and ruched curtains to the unchallenging questions asked by Ms Wark. For such a Hello!-type interview to lead BBC2's flagship current affairs programme was a travesty of all this hard-news programme professes to stand for.

Everything about the interview suggested that the questions had been agreed in advance and that specific areas were off limits as, increasingly and despicably, happens where celebrities and their agents are concerned. How else to explain Ms Wark's failure to tackle Madonna further about David's family, about the exact procedures she followed and the apparent fast-tracking of her application by the Malawi (and British) authorities? The way the interview was promoted also bore all the hallmarks of ratings-chasing that is precisely what the BBC should not be about.

There is no reason why Newsnight should not interview Madonna on the adoption issue. But it is a sad day when even this programme succumbs to celebrity-power. Newsnight should have a greater sense of its own dignity and purpose than to prostrate itself like this.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
IDF soldiers and vehicles in an image provided by campaign group Breaking the Silence  

'Any person you see – shoot to kill': The IDF doctrine which causes the death of innocent Palestinians

Ron Zaidel
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong

Frankie Boyle
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before