Showing posts with label Eddie Mair. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eddie Mair. Show all posts

Thursday, 28 March 2013


Earlier this week I heard somebody describe the contrasting interviewing techniques of Radio 4's Eddie Mair and Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman. They described the softly spoken Mair as like a quiet assassin whose preferred method of dispatch was a stiletto knife, whereas Paxman was like a fox on a chicken.

The imagery of a stiletto knife is a good one. Discreet, slender, perhaps benign, it is not an energetic slashing hacking implement. The stiletto knife is designed to smoothly stab, to go in deep and to be extracted with as little friction as possible. Oh yes, that's Eddy Mair; he's a deadly smiling avuncular assassin.

Jeremy Paxman, BBC2 Newsnight's heavyweight has made his name by savaging his guest. Paxman's style of journalism is often like a pub fight, pint glasses and bar stools being smashed into the hapless victim, leaving the interviewee looking like a Friday night in Croydon.

Jeremy Paxman is still an incredible journalist and presenter, and I don't wish him an early retirement, we still need him and his kind propping up the fourth estate and news media.

With Mair, the victim leaves the interview looking the same as they did when they left make up; but somehow knowing something isn't quite right. Their discomfort horribly confirmed when  they look down to see the puncture wound leaving  a larger and larger crimson patch just between ribs four and five.

There is a sense that there is an important shift going on in British political journalism. The Paxman playbook is well rehearsed, the lines to take are practised and role played to the point that the snap, crackle and pop has mostly gone from Newsnight. The tipping point has passed, and their falling ratings [I'm told] back my argument up.

If I am right and this shift is taking place, I for one would welcome it. I certainly won't miss the vulpine savagery and nightly chicken shredding, it's not edifying or informative, it's just bloodsport. It's turned the important job of politics and good governance into entertainment. We still need journalists who can ask penetrating questions that will keep our politicians on the edge, but more stiletto knife and less fox on chicken.

Monday, 25 March 2013


by Colin Bloom

On the eve of a BBC documentary about Boris's 'Irresistible Rise', the Andrew Marr show's quiet but deadly Eddie Mair tries to eviscerate Boris Johnson, London's brilliant Conservative Mayor. Click here and scroll in about twenty five minutes. 

After asking the Mayor numerous embarrassing questions about things that had happened in his past, Boris tousles his hair and squirms, but like a skilled swordsman he manages to effortlessly parry the embarrassments away. Eddie Mair is no Russell Harty - listeners to BBC Radio 4's PM Programme will know that he's a tough journalist. But then Boris knows that too.

For the past week the documentary about Boris has been trailed by the BBC with snippets here and morsels there. It seems that whenever Boris is mentioned it is always linked to whether he has ambitions to succeed David Cameron as Conservative Party Leader; on this the man himself remains deliciously ambiguous.

Boris knows that there is no vacancy, and a vacancy soon is so infinitesimally unlikely that you might wonder what is going on. Look, the duel is never going to be a head to head against David Cameron, Boris is too smart for that.

Boris knows that in politics what doesn't kill you usually makes you stronger. If you don't believe me, consider how our siblings in the USA select their Presidential candidates, through their brutal Primary system. Frankly, whether it is Barack Obama vs Hilary Clinton, or Mitt Romney v Rick Santorum v Newt Gingrich v Ron Paul, there is nothing about any of these candidates' past that isn't squelched through and amplified to inflict terminal damage. What doesn't kill them, just makes them stronger.

If there are things in Boris's past that might hurt him in the future, the logic follows that it's in his interests to get them out of the way now. By the time he has finished squirming and parrying, he'll be  hoping that he is the strongest candidate from who is left.