Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Peter Oborne criticised for being "gratuitously offensive"
“Frankly I wouldn't mind paying an extra £10 a licence fee year to get the old, eclectic Newsnight back – and idiots sent early to bed,” writes Peter Preston in The Observer. This in response to Peter Oborne’s outburst on Newsnight in which he insulted the European Commission representative, Amadeu Altafaj-Tardio, referring to him as an “idiot” and openly laughing as he responded to Paxman’s questions. His insults were also directed at former Financial Times Editor Richard Lambert, who he lambasted for taking the same line as “the idiot in Brussels” that the Euro crisis was primarily a political, rather than economic, issue. Oborne’s wrath was eventually cut short by Jeremy Paxman chastising him for being “gratuitously offensive”, but not before the EU spokesman had taken off his microphone and walked out of the studio.
This episode has generated a fair amount of criticism and comment based around two major issues. First that Paxman was at fault for failing to stop Oborne earlier in the discussion, reflecting the declining standards of the current newsnight programme. Second, Oborne’s aggressive style has stifled debate, and is part of a larger problem in which misinformation about the EU is allowed to continue. Denis MacShane notes, for example, that “core EU facts remain unknown to the British public. According to the House of Commons library, just 7% of our laws originate in Europe. The total EU spend is just 1% of Europe's GDP. The BBC employs more people than the European commission and pays much bigger salaries”. Yet the British public are more likely to sympathise with Oborne’s analysis that the EU is not in Britain’s interests.
Oborne has just released a new book, Guilty Men, which details his views on the dangers of the Euro.