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Time was when I liked Paxman. Even ten years ago, when Chris Morris was already gleefully dissecting him on The Day Today, I still liked his relentlessness and his mannerisms.

Not any more, though. Last week I found myself sending this on an official complaints form to the Beeb in a fit of pique, though I'm not expecting a reply.

NB - I'm fully aware that when Rupert Murdoch (or, more likely, one of his ineffectual idiot children after his death) finally gets his way and Fox News is as entrenched over here as it is in the States, I'll be nostalgic and probably downright wistful about this period of Paxmanism. But not yet.)

Paxman’s interviewing style is getting out of hand. What doubtless began years ago as a crusade to excavate the truth has morphed into a self-aggrandising pantomime that is only going to get worse as he gets older and inevitably turns into a caricature of himself.

Even when he has on a guest whom he clearly respects to some degree, like Irshad Manji the other night, he can't help but come across as faintly disgusted by them, wearily interrupting and interrogating them as if they were a civil servant convicted of embezzlement but refusing to resign.

And in a genuinely combative situation, like the three-party “debate” this evening, he’s proving to be patently useless. When two of the politicians got going on actually debating a point, he spent the entire time interrupting and talking over them until they finally shut up. This was so he could ask the third a biting question he clearly thought was some kind of slam-dunk, a coruscating question so revealing of internal contradiction in the politician’s policy that the guy would be forced to resign his post on the spot. When this failed to happen and the man began civilly to answer Paxman’s question, he was no more than three words though his answer before Paxman started interjecting, barking pointless heckles that he thought backed up his initial “resign now!” point-scorer.

No-one benefits from this kind of exchange. It’s no longer about getting at the truth, it's about making Paxman look like some kind of people’s champion. As such, it’s a waste of everyone's time. His interview technique has become atrophied, obstructive and self-defeating, and frankly he can shove it up his arse.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 23rd, 2005 12:01 pm (UTC)
The boy Webofevil has let himself down at the end there. What began as an accurate summation of the decline of Paxman, and indeed the reduction of televised debate into a mere pantomime where quick point scoring to suit the attention deficient masses outweighs fine rhetoric and constructed argument, ended in the word arse. He's bound to feel that he's let the side down, and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some stick from the supporters.
May. 23rd, 2005 12:10 pm (UTC)
I can't say I'm sorry, Brian. I know some of the fans have been a bit critical, but you've got to go with your instincts on the day. I won't pretend it's been easy, though, and I'm looking at moving to Spain for a couple of years to critique their current affairs presenters until the fuss dies down over here.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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