Trite journalism?

Is it “trite journalism” to ask the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer what the country pays on its national debt? Should the shadow chancellor have these figures to hand, or can he rely on an iPad or advisor to tell him? John McDonnell doesn’t seem to think so.

Here he is with BBC interviewer Andrew Neil (AN) who asks him how much interest we spend on our national debt:

AN: how much do we now spend
    on (.) paying the interest on our national debt
JM: er a lot a lot
AN: how much
JM: well I give the figure er
    and I’ll send you a note on the figure
    with er
AN: er ho- you don’t know
JM: well I know the figure
    but I haven’t got it [in front of me
AN:                      [how much
JM: I’ll send it
    well you tell me now
      (.)
AN: well at the moment it’s forty six
JM: it’s forty six
    it was fifty six but it’s gone down
AN: er no it’s going up
JM: well no it’s gone down previously ((indistinct))
AN: n- no I assure you it’s going up
JM: ((indistinct))
AN: ((indistinct)) fifty billion
    look if you didn’t know the figure
    then you don’t know whether it’s going up or down
JM: I can remember the t-
    I can remember the trend
...

External link to clip

The next day, McDonnell (JM) defended his lack of immediate recall by calling the journalism “trite journalism”:

JM: the type of journalism
where you go into an interview
and someone else
with a question on a particular figure
to be honest
is trite form of journalism
that’s why we have iPads
and that’s why we have advisors et cetra
look er
so let’s get back to the reality of this
...

External link to clip


Clip 1: BBC Daily Politics, 23rd November 2017
Clip 2: BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 24th November 2017

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