Saturday, March 04, 2006

BBC Today Interviews

Two interviews on Radio 4’s Today programme - one yesterday and one today - typify the US bad/UN good outlook which prevails at the BBC.

Here are the closing moments from the spat (streaming RAM) between John Humphrys and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy. (Full transcript at Islamophobic, from which this is taken, with thanks):
Humphrys: how much longer are you going to keep Guantanomo Bay - in the face of TOTAL international condemnation - how much longer are you going to keep it open?

Colleen Graffy: well if Britain would like to take them - i think there could be negotiations on that.
but until that...

h: what?

cg: and until they determine that they dont want to lay down their arms

h: WHO?!!!?

cg: well, until they are willing to lay down their arms (interrupted) i dont think the international community would want them released

h: sorry - who -who - who has arms in Guantanamo?
you've lost me i'm afraid.

cg: under their administrative review board they have the opportunity to say that they no longer want to continue fighting.

h: this is through the looking glass stuff isnt it? they say that they're not fighting anyway!

cg: no. they're not. no they're not

h: sorry - the man that we have just , after a fashion, interviewed , a very unsatisfactory interview, its the best we could do - he denies that he has ever been a terrorist, is a supporter of the United States, denies the whole thing, as do the others!

cg: and as you know, from the al qaeda manual that the british police found in the manchester, chapter 18 says claim you are tortured and use hunger strikes as way of gaining media attention.

h: colleen graffy. thank you very much.
Compare that tone with Ed Stourton’s interview with Mark Malloch Brown, Chef de Cabinet to the UN Secretary-General this morning (streaming RAM). Stourton asks a few soft questions which allow Malloch Brown free rein to air his anti-American views on Guantanamo and promote the UN’s diplomatic role in Iraq. The nearest Stourton comes to a hard question is at the end of the interview, and even then he fears he might have overstepped the mark with his description of Annan:
ES: Do you not think that the way Kofi Annan’s reputation has been tarnished… um perhaps that’s … I’m not sure that’s the right word but you know what I mean… by what’s emerged in the Oil For Food programme and so forth has made it very difficult for him to lead a reform programme?

MMB: He’s tackled the management weaknesses which were exposed by Oil For Food to make sure that the organisation he hands on to his successor is one better equipped to take on these kind of mega operations like Oil For Food that the world now has a habit of dropping on us rather suddenly and often.

MMB: Thank you very much indeed for talking to us
I realise that Humphrys and Stourton have different interview styles but even so the difference in attitude is remarkable. A US government representative comes on and gets grilled whereas one of Kofi’s boys is allowed to propagandise without interruption or contradiction.


Anonymous henry, Durham said...

I listened to this. I could not believe what I was hearing. Humphreys just argued with the woman, he didn't ask any questions other than rhetorical ones. I wanted to hear what she had to say, hear the US side of the story. You can hear her gradually realise that she only has maybe 10 seconds before she is interrupted. Her last point is genuis, "Of course they say we torture them, they're the kind of people who would say that so that people like you would be join their release committe, YOU MORON!"

7:58 pm  

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