On Sunday, the BBC partook of another post-interview onanistic frenzy as it congratulated itself on Andrew Marr’s interview with The Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage. Liberals and centrists joined in with the praise. Excited voices struggled to retain composure as they gushed about how Marr had grilled Farage about such vital topics as gun control and Putin.
Meanwhile, post-Marr/Farage interview, The Brexit Party’s employees concocted video clips of the interview that excluded Marr’s questions and Farage’s clumsy responses and only included the latter’s prepared rhetoric. From Farage and The Brexit Party’s perspective the interview was not a failure. For right-wing politicians, an appearance on TV is a success and it is irrelevant how any interview progresses.
The BBC was equally self-congratulatory about the Andrew Neil interview with Ben Shapiro a few days earlier. But, Shapiro’s profile in Britain was enhanced by the interview regardless of how adept Neil was at discomforting him.
More far-right characters are likely to appear on BBC TV news programmes. The pattern will be the same in each interview: The interviewer will ask pointless questions about things that don’t matter but can catch out the interviewee; afterward BBC and hapless centrists will grin inanely and the far-right interviewee will walk away with a smirk after another platform to enhance exposure. BBC’s approach to the far-right is to pretend to win interviews with tangential questions whose content is irrelevant and to be wholly unconcerned about the usefulness of platforms for the far-right protagonists.
The far-right cannot be engaged. It cannot be challenged with reason and logic. It has no interest in defending itself against its opponents. It has no shame and no self-reflection. Any appearance on TV or radio is a platform for the far-right irrespective of what happens in the encounter.
The BBC knows what it is doing but it doesn’t care if it is enabling far-right politics.
Nesrine Malik in Guardian