Chomsky once said something along the lines of ‘the construction of binaries in news manufactures simple orthodoxies that quash real debate.’ I can’t find the quote, but it was something like that. His point is that news, constrained by its conventions, is paradoxically rather unedifying.
It’s true. Look at the non-interviews that take place on mainstream news and current affairs programmes. Politicians are trained to the max (right up until they leave the Green Room) to respond to aggressive challenges, change the course of discussion, out-shout, etc.
There is rarely anything edifying about these contests.
How refreshing, then, to see Evan Davis take the helm at Newsnight and put the Prime Minister through his paces. It was a calm and civil discussion – and in that infinitely more revealing than what had become the current affairs version of a Michael Bay movie.
Last night Davis asked three gentle hypothetical questions, which the Prime Minister answered. The truth came through in the nuance of the non-answers, which contrasted with the candour in others. It reminded me a bit of David Frost’s interviews with Nixon – gently relentless in their probing.
The shark has pretty teeth now.
Here’s the interview in full: