Top Five Embarrassing News Interviews Part Two: The Interviewers

I’ve already presented my favourite five clips of terrible interviewees. This time around I’ve focused on journalists, who from time to time  forget some key basics of their job, often with embarrassing consequences. In our list we have those who are guilty of not reading what is in front of them, being poorly prepared and in one case getting far too emotionally involved in an interview. Sit back and enjoy my favourite five terrible news presenting and interviewing moments.

5.The Jimmy Savile text

As soon as BBC Radio Ulster radio presenter Karen Patterson read out this text she should have known she’d fallen into a trap. Not really considering what she was reading she was taken in, hook, line and sinker by this cheeky texter, who makes light of the Jimmy Savile scandal. She comes back later to apologise but the damage was already done. A harsh lesson in the importance of reading what is in front of you properly.

4.Carrie Gracie earns how much?!?

The MP’s expenses scandal was huge, swathes of MPs claiming for erroneous costs to bump up their salaries. But when Carrie Gracie, one of BBC News channel’s presenters, tries to quiz Lord Foulkes about the issue she found herself on the wrong side of some difficult questions. After her questions about MPs salaries Lord  Foulkes decides to ask her, as an employee of a publicly funded organisation, how much she earns. The cornered Gracie reveals her quite frankly extraordinary salary of £92,000. Lord Foulkes is shocked, the audience is left shocked and most journalists are left green with envy as the real story of MPs fiddling expenses was forgotten and we were all left wondering whether Gracie was really worth £92,000 of our BBC licence fee money.

3.Paxman gets owned

Its rare that BBC Newsnight present Jeremy Paxman loses an argument but here he loses spectacularly. Paxman was poorly prepared here, quotes wrong figures and makes the assertion that public spending in Wales is the highest per population in the UK, without being able to back it up. His opponent here, Plaid Cymru’s economic adviser Eurfyl ap Gwilym, is able to flex his superior knowledge marvellously, forcing Paxman to dither with bits of paper as he frantically tries to prove his point. Paxman at one point in the exchange even tries to convince himself that London is not ‘officially’ in England as his turmoil worsens. The sight of Eurfyl ap Gwilym quite rightly asking Paxman to “do your homework” is one Paxman’s victims will cherish.

2.Mistaken identity

Guy Goma walked into BBC TV centre expecting to attend a job interview. But one wrong turn and a case of mistaken identity later he somehow found himself live on BBC News being interviewed about technology markets. Where the interviewer really falls down is that she seems to bat away his attempt to explain his predicament and just excepts his understandably lame answers. Among the best moments are when the next journalist paraphrases this job applicant, as if what he has said has any relevance, and the look on Goma’s face when he realises he is live on air.

1.Adam Boulton v Alistair Campbell

This is one of my all time favourite journalistic blunders and shows how even the most experience broadcaster can lose it under pressure. There’s clearly bad blood between Sky’s Adam Boulton and Alistair Campbell, former Number 10 director of communications and Mirror journalist. Campbell milks Boulton’s hatred for him wonderfully, goading the Sky man who foolishly rises to every jibe. Boulton looks like he is fully prepared to lamp Campbell at more than one point. There’s a wonderful sense of beauty as his colleague leaves them to it and the camera moves away with the high pitched Boulton continuing his failed, child-like battle with a master windup merchant.

Compiled by Joe Lepper

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