Jeremy Corbyn delivers best performance yet during live TV debate
It is rarely if ever, that I agree with Andrew Pierce, Consultant editor of the Daily Mail and regular newspaper previwer in the Monday evening Sky News morning papers preview slot, along with Daily Mirror associate editor Kevin McGuire.
However, following last nights (29th May) much heralded Televised "Debate" on Sky News between Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Pierce observed that Jeremy Paxman, "is past his sell by date". In fact, Paxman's performance on the programme revealed more than that. Not only had his "sell by date" expired but his contents has developed a distinct odour of decay.
The 90 minute Sky News special, hosted by Fisal Islam and Jeremy paxman, was advertised as a leaders debate but was in fact just a question and answer session with first the invited studio audience, and then acrross the table with "inquisitor", Paxman himself. It was not actually a debate as May and Corbyn appeared separately in allocated slots to respond to questions. Any viewer tuning in expecting a debate between the leaders on their respective party policies will have been sadly disappointed. Even with the format as transmitted, there should have been scope for a presentation of policy, but Paxman was determined to deprive both the studio audience and the viewers even of that.
Describing himself as a "One Nation Conservative", Paxman was probably not the most impartial host that could have been given the job of questioning the leaders, but in keeping with the Sky Television unconditional support for and unashamed bias towards the conservative party throughout this election campaign, he filled the role with some relish.
The first "candidate" to appear was Jeremy Corbyn who responded to questions from the audience with confidence, having the occasional opportunity to promote labour policy on Housing, Welfare, the NHS, workers rights, and other points.
Paxman however seemed determined to dominate the conversation with the Labour leader with distortions and innuendo about anything except Labour part policy. From the start of the "interview", Paxman was boorish, arrogant and aggresive as he waded in with questions on the IRA, Hamas, Trident, Dis banding MI5 and Argentina, shouting down Corbyn in mid sentance with his next tirade of hysterical interogation.
The defining moment came when Paxman again interrupted a partial response and Corbyn said "Can you let me finish?", to which Paxman, showing his utter ignorance and disrespect shouted "No".
At no time during this section of the programme was there any discussion about policy. The only reference to the Labour party manifesto, was Paxman's bizarre comments about what the manifesto did not include. There was no mention, he ranted, about abolishing the monarchy or nationalising the banks, demonstrating that the inquisitor has little if any knowledge about how a Labour party manifesto is actually produced.
The whole interview with Corbyn was in marked contrast to that with Theresa May. She received very few interuptions, met with little Paxman hostility and was allowed to speak at length, but withou any detail, on specifics from the conservative manifesto about Brexit, welfare caps, security and her other comfort zones. The only discomfort seemed to come when a police officer in the audience brought up the matter of cuts to the force.
The Prime Minister is not comfortable with the face to face situation and detailed questioning and in this respect Paxman gave her an easy ride
All in all, Jeremy Paxman produced a biased and vulgar performance. Boorish and disrepectful, Paxman in the space of some 20 minutes clearly demonstrated all that is wrong with journalism, particularly television journalism, in todays United Kingdom