Casting an eye over the last three editions of The World at One, all with Martha Kearney, reveals that the toughest interview with a domestic politician was with Boris Johnson (30/11), a serious-toned Boris facing an unfriendly Martha (I.C. of 1.2), with five full-blooded interruptions. Boris brings out the worst in some BBC interviewers - witness Martha's hilarious over-excitement last time she interviewed him (5/10 - 1.5)! In contrast, today's 'politicians panel' discussed Afghanistan and there were no significant interruptions for any of the guests (I.C.s of 0 all round), Mark Francois (Con), Chris Huhne (Lib) and John Healey (Lab). Here balance was achieved.
Today's edition also saw the issue of Afghanistan discussed with two senior figures from the American political scene and here too balance seemed to be the order of the day. We had, of course, a Democrat - Congressman Jim McGovern from Massachusetts - but also the Australian Dr David Kilcullen. He was described as a 'chief strategist at the State Department' during the Bush Administration, and now a 'senior advisor' to General McChrystal. Yesterday, however, saw a classic instance of the BBC's Democratophilia as the war was discussed (at some length) with Philip Bobbitt. Here's how Martha described him: "Philip Bobbitt has been highly influential on the foreign policy of many presidents. The law professor was Columbia and Texas Universities has written several books highly praised by world leaders, including 'The Shield of Achilles' and 'Terror and Consent'." High praise indeed! So I guessed he was not on the conservative side of American politics; indeed he confirmed this himself, saying "In the Democratic Party, which is my party and the president's party...". That he may be a very fine man and a very fine thinker is besides the point. The BBC has a strong habit of 'bigging up' the credentials of thinkers from the Left side of politics, but not 'bigging up' those from the Right with anywhere near such warmth or regularity. *
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