If you haven’t yet seen Zac Goldsmith being interviewed on Channel 4 News you really should. It’s car-crash TV at its most mangled. Goldsmith was appearing supposedly to answer questions about his campaign expenses. The discrepancies Channel 4 News and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found can be heard in the first 2.30 of the report I linked to. If you just want to watch the interview, watch the video below:
Zac Goldsmith seems to be taking his cues from James Hacker. See this video, at around 29 seconds in, for his advice on how to answer press questions:
1) If you have nothing to say, say nothing.
2) Better still, have something to say and say it, no matter what they ask. Pay no attention to the question, just make your own statement.
3) Then if they ask the question again, you say, “That’s not the question”, or, “I think the real question is…” and then you make another statement of your own.
Goldsmith appears to be following this advice to the letter. (It’s hard to blame him: a Yes, Minister box set would be infinitely more amusing and insightful than Andy Coulson could ever hope to be.) He spends the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the interview blustering through repeating points 2) and 3) constantly. The best example of this is at around 3.10 on the Youtube video I’ve embedded here.
You have asked me a question and I’m going to reply to it. The question is, “why didn’t I reply to you on Friday?”
Before Jon Snow has a chance to scream, “NO! That’s not the question we want you to answer, you cloth-eared toff”, Goldsmith has stalled for another minute and a quarter, with yet more blustering: “I’m here to address the issues, but before I do so…”
When Goldsmith finally addresses the issues, at around 7.30 in, he’s not on sound footing. Forget the shifty body language and the aggressive pen-pointing, his rebuttals of the charges are weak. His argument that all MPs are doing this is a weak one, as Sunder Katwala pointed out. And does anybody seriously believe that a poster with Zac Goldsmith’s name and face on it can be part of the local election campaign, as well as the parliamentary one?
What’s most disturbing is that the general consensus on Conservative Home is that Zac Goldsmith came out of it rather well! The actual headline on the article,
Zac Goldsmith exposes that Channel 4 News refused to give him a platform on last night’s programme as he answers the allegations about his election expenses in an angry interview with Jon Snow
is perhaps technically true, but hardly gets to the matter at hand. I cannot imagine that would be the headline on Con Home if a Labour politician had given that sort of interview. Particular attention has been paid by commenters to the “left-wing bias” of Jon Snow and Channel 4 News. Mind you, people of that sort would probably find left-wing bias in Mein Kampf: oh wait, they already have.
Perhaps Zac Goldsmith, if he’s going to stick to not answering the issues at hand, should just comfort himself that he could have come over worse. He could have come onto Channel Four News looking something like this: