Political

It wasn’t Eddie Mair that did for Boris Johnson, it was that it was national TV

Eddie Mair is rightly getting many plaudits today for a softly-spoken yet brutally effective interview of Boris Johnson.

Yet Eddie Mair is by no means the first person to ask questions of Boris Johnson that leave him looking an embarrassed, evasive wreck.

There’s a group of people who have done so regularly for years. They’re members of the London Assembly.

At Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall, the best of them repeatedly leave Boris Johnson looking just as bad as Eddie Mair did this morning. Yet those evasions and calamities normally get almost no attention.

What’s made Eddie Mair questions really have impact is that they were carried out on national TV.

So well done Eddie Mair. He’s shown journalists can be as good questioners of Boris Johnson as politicians regularly are. At last.

5 responses to “It wasn’t Eddie Mair that did for Boris Johnson, it was that it was national TV”

  1. No, you are completely wrong. Politicians, including members of the London Assembly, get things totally out of proportion and are rightly ignored by the public. (Perhaps instead of learning to throw cheap insults, England’s political parties should invest in a few copies of The Boy who Cried Wolf). The reference National television is also missing the point. If Paxman called Boris, or anyone else, a “nasty piece of work” nobody would take a blind bit of notice. The reason why the interview was (and might well be in the future) damaging is because Eddie Mair is, as indeed you note in passing, softly spoken. When somebody of Mr Mair’s demeanour calls somebody a “nasty piece of work” (after rehearsing the factual basis for doing so) it is a very powerful indictment.

    • BillEllson You wrote: “politicians, including members of the London Assembly, get things totally out of proportion and are rightly ignored by the public.”
      Surely this is a bit of sweeping, catch-all generalisation and serves, unintentionally or not, to perpetuate an unhealthy public disdain towards politicians. I’m not one myself, but I do recognise that many politicians – of all parties – are committed towards making society a better place and don’t, as you suggest, always get things “totally out of proportion” and should not be, as you also suggest, “rightly ignored by the public”.
      I agree that some politicians place party politic ahead of their public electors. However, let’s not rush to sweeping (and simplistic) condemnations of all politicians.

  2. Absolutely right Mark!  So let’s start a campaign to keep him on London regional TV, and away from the rest of us………

  3. Whilst anyone in public life must rightly expect to held to account and the freedom of our journalists to do so is one of the greatest strengths of our democracy, the power which accompanies the exercise of that role must be handled responsibly and within the law. Boris Johnson should expect robust questioning on radio and television but the questions and comments should be targeted at his public role and ability to carry out that role. For me, Eddie Mayer’s descent into personal offensiveness (whether said quietly or not) when questioning Boris Johnson actually reduced the value of the interview. It left me with strong feelings of disgust that a supposedly professional journalist should need to resort to such tactics when presentation of the fact would have been sufficient.

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