Ok. I wasn’t going to blog any more since it’s Friday and I’m waiting for a furniture van to arrive to take away a church pew I’ve had in the hallway and which is now being replaced by Louis XIV sofa. I plan to lounge there foppishly and light cheroots with my redundancy money. Anyway the guy from the auctioneers phoned to say he’ll be half an hour late so I’d like to make a quick point.
I see Kirsty Wark is the latest victim of bias accusations. I assure you she is more than capable of defending herself and certainly more capable than me but what’s the evidence of bias?
Take the Salmond interview, now notorious, and rightly so. It was a shocker. I watched and said out loud: “She’s lost the plot”. It was one of the worst of its kind I’ve seen and sounded tainted with a personal element. I’ve no idea what she was thinking except remember that Newsnight isn’t planned, produced or presented for you. You’re a Scot. You’ve got your own wee version. This one in London is for the grown-ups.
If the producer wants his show to reflect conventional Home Counties attitudes towards this upstart Jock, he will have to be tackled robustly. He would say: He himself has a robust reputation and we must be sure not to let him away with anything or we’ll get flack. And Kirsty, remember, you’re a Scot and the audience will think you’ve gone native if you soft-pedal. So go for him with everything you’ve got. I don’t care if Salmond complains. Nobody in London cares if he complains. I don’t want the Debrief to be one of those If Only events. Go get him…
Put it another way, going hard at Salmond is hardly qualification for Better Together membership. We’ve all done it. Me too. He’s got exasperated with me and put me down on air several times. And I’m an admirer.
So there’s another thought. If you personally support the politician in front of you, do you soft-soap? In my experience you do the opposite. You try doubly hard to stiff them for fear of being accused of handling them too gently. Just apply some alternative logic.
Some of you are understandably being provoked by an interviewer slapping your man about, and think therefore the interviewer must be biased against him. Is that what you say when the leader of the other lot is getting a pummelling? Of course not. In that case the interviewer has judged it just right.
We’re all biased but funnily enough it’s only really when you are forced to confront that – as you are as a BBC journalist – that the scales fall from your eyes and you see some perspective.
Being pals at all with Jack McConnell may require a quantum leap for you and me who’d rather be stuck in a lift with Iain Gray for 24 hours, but that tells you nothing about Kirsty’s own views. Do all your pals agree with you? Anyway, if I understand it, the Laird of Glenbluster is actually pals with Kirsty’s man, Alan who was at uni with him, I imagine. Stirling?
The truth is I don’t know what Kirsty votes and neither do you. A trick in my trade when you can’t make sense of something is to turn the telescope around. Look again. What do you see? A woman, one of our best women, a real achiever, a millionaire, an ambassador for Scots who has done how many interviews do you reckon over 30 years or so? Thousands. Untold numbers. And over all that time we can think of possibly one, maybe two that were dodgy, leaving a taint of bias in some viewers’ minds…and one or two references like the idiotic “pibroch currency” mention in the Coldsteam programme.
She may be a die-hard Unionist who loathes independence for all I know but realistically, can you base that assumption on anything she’s said on air? It would be a seriously harsh judgement, one that I wouldn’t like to be subjected to.
By the way, I’m not an unalloyed admirer. There are one or two wee things over the years where I have had cause to revise my opinion of her. But they’re personal. She remains one of the single most professional, honest, perennially upbeat, inspirational people I’ve worked with and I have used her example to keep me on track ever since. Sadly, without the same degree of success or reward. Damn her!
That’s my furniture man at the door. Pews aweigh….