LETTER:BBC and bias: public perceptions counter Conservative fears

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The Independent Online
From Mr Ivor Rensten

Sir: So, Jonathan Aitken and his fellow Tory MPs are unhappy with the BBC. I wonder how many of your readers have considered the way that these MPs actually respond to interviewers' questions.

I first noticed it in the middle of the Thatcher era. I wondered then whether a school, or perhaps a short course or even an instruction pamphlet, had been used to train her colleagues in how to handle questions that might embarrass them or their party.

The method seems to be as follows: listen to the initial question; then begin to answer, not that question, but the question you had wanted to be asked. Continue to talk and ignore any attempt by the interviewer to return you to his original point. Press on and on and, if the interviewer does manage - in an accidental pause - to get in a question, say, "Please let me finish," and plough on. In this way, you'll take up all or nearly all of the time available for your interview, avoid awkward questions and make your own party political broadcast.

Yours faithfully,

IVOR RENSTEN

Cuffley, Hertfordshire

28 March

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