Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In Praise of Nick Robinson

Perhaps I am guilty of criticising the BBC too often on this blog. Many of my friends who work at the BBC certainly think so, so let me redress the balance a little.

Whoever had the bright idea of getting Nick Robinson to present Newsnight this week deserves a promotion. He looked and sounded as if he had been doing it for years. If ever a man was comfortable in his work, he was it. He interviewed people well, chaired discussions without imposing himself too much and did exactly what a presenter should do - enable the audience to gain a good understanding of an issue without himself becoming part of the story. And he felt comfortable in using a bit of humour, without it ever looking like an excuse to dumb down a story.

I don't know how long Nick intends continuing as political editor. But whenever he decides to hang up his hat in the lobby, Newsnight should do their darndest to recruit him as one of their main presenters.

66 comments:

andrew said...

I totally agree. He's been stunning. Ditch Maitliss, get Robinson!

JohnT said...

I didn't watch tonights episode, but Mondays and Tuesdays editions were great and refreshing. Totally agree with you.

BJ said...

Agreed Iain, Nick is ace -- and has been ever since he did late nights on Five Live. I've heard on the BBC grapevine that he'll step down some time early in the next parliament.

(The excellent James Landale, who is now deputy political editor, is probably favourite to replace him)

As for Nick's future career -- the Today prog and Newsnight are probably going to have to fight over him. If he joins Today, it'll be an excellent excuse to get rid of James Naughtie. We can hope!

GGaann said...

Agree - much better than Paxo - perhaps because he nails the lies without self important sneer ?

Anonymous said...

I agree, ditch Wark and have Paxman, Robinson, and Maitlis take it away. One thing Robinson could improve on is his emotional intelligence, though I am sure that would improve rapidly with more practice.

Events dear boy, events said...

Good on you Iain. I am glad to see my idea is catching on.

dearieme said...

Maitliss can't think on her feet and Paxo is long past his sell-by - his standards are slipping even on University Challenge.

Martin said...

You are having a laugh Iain? Toenails doing a good job, did you have the volume turned down on the TV?

All I saw was the BBC dodging the big stories (does anyone really give a s**t about some wind turbine jobs in the Isle of Wight? when 30,000 Woolworths jobs went without a murmur) like the fiasco of that prat Bob Ainsworth letting the MoD attack OUR injured troops then do a massive U turn and get away without any real hammering.

And who decided Mandy was in charge of the Country whilst McDoom is hopefully looking for somewhere to throw himself off a cliff in Scotland? Mandelson? He's never won an election for anything? Where's Hattie Hatemenperson? I thought she was in charge?

Newsnight has the amazing ability to miss the big Government cock-ups night after night. We even had that prat Michael Prick doing some non story about some Tory internal election thing down in Cornwall or somewhere. Is THAT really worthy of a Newsnight story? How quickly the BBC moved on from the Norwich election and the rumblings within Liebour that McDoom is finished. Can't have bad news on the BBC about the Government can we? Can't have those evil Tory bastards getting one up can we?


Don't make me laugh Iain. Don't fall for the BBC spin. That lot need sorting out with a flamethrower.

Auntie Flo' said...

I didn't watch this, however, I did watch Nick Robinson appear to select obvious Tory members of a local audience to interview following one of Cameron's public meetings.

Nick's subsequent blog suggested that the hall was largely full of Tories. Yet even a local reporter, who supports the Lib Dems took issue with Nick over this. The reporter noted as I did that the audience was comprised of a good mix of people from all of the major and some minor parties.

Some of the audience were people who are well known locally for giving politicians, especially Conservatives, a hard time, yet, as the reporter noted, they were surprisingly respectful to David Cameron. This was presumably because Cameron was respectful towards the audience and did something unheard of these days: took random questions from the floor with no idea what he was going to be asked, then gave straight and honest answers.

Though, to be fair to Nick, perhaps it's unsurprising that he found it all too good to be true. It was like being on the hustings in the old days, when politicians had the courage of their convictions and the guts to be questioned about them by opponents as well as supporters.

epigrammatist said...

I disagree. Watched yesterday and today. Made a hash of the interviews about the Obama/Gates/Crowley incident and looked silly when he opened a beer and took a sip during the intro. He clearly hadn't briefed himself properly about the story. In general he doesn't look interested in substance beyond home politics. Stumbled embarrassingly on the name of a Scottish war victim. At least the other presenters look intellectually curious. Just another narcissistic showman.

Uncle Bob said...

100% agreement here Iain. It's been a pleasure watching Newsnight the past 3 nights. I've actually come away each night feeling I've learned something which has been very rare on the show the last few years. Robinson seemed to enjoy doing it too. Not only the newsnight presenters, but Andrew Marr should be worried about his sunday morning slot. At this rate the toenails nickname could soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Paxman should look at his approach in the Mandelson interview and take note. Robinson's method seems far more effective.

PSJ said...

You have every right to criticise the BBC as much as you like, Iain, as long as they maintain the form of legalised theft known as the licence fee (I'm assuming you pay it).

Anyway, I agree about Nick Robinson - better than Paxman.

The Grim Reaper said...

Dear oh dear oh dear...

Martin said "All I saw was the BBC dodging the big stories (does anyone really give a s**t about some wind turbine jobs in the Isle of Wight? when 30,000 Woolworths jobs went without a murmur)..."

Erm... those jobs at Woolworths were lost back in January. It was nearly SEVEN months ago. Do try to keep up.

Martin then said: "And who decided Mandy was in charge of the Country whilst McDoom is hopefully looking for somewhere to throw himself off a cliff in Scotland? Mandelson? He's never won an election for anything?"

So he wasn't an MP in Hartlepool from 1992 until 2004 then, was he?

Siberian Tory said...

In fairness Grim Reaper as a Labour candidate you don't "win" Hartlepool you're just anointed.

Keith Elliott said...

The BBC are hated by New Labour and similarly Norman Tebbit tried to find evidence of anti Tory bias in the BBC when he was Tory Party Chairman in the 80's - he failed.

Of course they will get it wrong on occasions, but for the most part they provide a reliable and (as broadcasters go) balanced reporting of the news.

As someone who now lives in North America, the BBC is my main source of broadcast news.

It may not be perfect but it's better than anything else anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

Aww your friends at the BBC putting on the pressure eh? The leeches don't like it up 'em.

The biggest criticism is why the hell should we all have to pay a forced subscription to a politically biased organ?

Please Iain explain to me why I should be made to pay £142.50 other than "If you’re prosecuted and found guilty, you could be fined up to £1.000" (and all that this entails including having your home searched for evidence of watching TV) for something I do not watch? You may want to leave out the impartiality and cultural reasons as I will just laugh at you.

Cardiff Blogger said...

I totally agree iain. You actually beat me to it with your blog. I criticise the BBC and toenails Robinson especially but he has done a fantastic job. I was very surprised and pleased that I was surprised too. A welcomed change

Boggo said...

I agree with you Iain. Huge improvement on Paxman and Kirsty W.
Gavin Essler has been the least posey lately, and Robinson is not me me me and is quick on his feet.

ScottF said...

The BBCs coverage of US politics remains a total embarrasment. NewsNight made a total hash of the Obama car crash press conference last night.

Russell said...

Really. Robinson is hopelessly, and I do mean irretrievably, biased towards Labour. Everything he says on TV or his blog demonstrates it; his fawning subservience towards big important NuLabour figures demonstrates it; the emphasis he chooses to place on political stories demonstrates it; his open contempt for the Conservative party demonstrates it.

He should show a little integrity (assuming he's got any left, which is a big ask), resign forthwith and go off to his true vocation, buried somewhere in the No 10 bunker, propping up Brown's utterly discredited apology for a Government.

Toenails is just weird. And did I mention biased? JugEars is pallid by comparison. But what insidious power the two of them have over the public perception of politics, and how co-ordinated and calculated their misuse of that power really is. Landale is another Toenails in training.

Martin's right. Bring on the flamethrowers.

Thatsnews said...

Wish I'd seen it now!

wv = unstru

Incidentally
Labour council poisons children, does Brown have intelligence? An life IS tough if you look like Fred Kite

Anonymous said...

Like Marr and others he is being found a safe home ahead of the fall of the Labour Gov.Would have suggested the Today prog. but they are already providing a safe home for at least one.

Dominic said...

Well, when the BBC stops its campaign of payment or jail, I may consider caring.
Until then, I'll do what I've done for the last 720 days, not pay the TV tax and mock their warning letters

Stronghold Barricades said...

Steady on Iain,

Nick obviously still has his favourites which are not held to account, and I wonder if the debates are not seen to be stronger because there is no right of centre candidate present, the example being the wind debate yesterday

labour for the few said...

he was fantastic.

we all know the bbc is a political movement for the left.

it must change on the 6th of may and become a political movement of the right.

if that is the way they want it.

i never watch news night,as it is is stuffed full of seriously horrible presenters.

i will be an avid watcher if nick takes over.

glasshopper said...

I agree he made a refreshing change.

But he looked good only in comparison with the pathetic standard of the competition.

James said...

Yes, the Woolworths jobs were lost months ago, but the level of attention being given to one small factory is completely absurd in context. It isn't just the BBC, sadly.

I'm not sure which irritates me most: the media fixation with one small group of jobs lost in the midst of a large recession, the crazy union demands to nationalise failure yet again, or people blaming the factory's non-customers for not wanting their products, as if that's anyone's fault but that company's!

Stepney said...

He's a liability as a Political Editor but has been a revelation on Newsnight. He's a natural.

Akin to a horse leaving its job as an accountant and taking up National Hunt racing instead.

Anonymous said...

That's News

I took note of the Corby contamination judgement yesterday. May be I missed it but is it a Labour council?

Tell you, if it had been a Tory council, you would have had the fact rammed down your throat.

With the BBC, it's not always what they say but what they don't say. That's where viewers miss the bias.

Anonymous said...

I really could not agree more . Never been a great admirer of him but amongst those awful light weight presenters of news night who always seem to struggle for the next word, many of them promoted there well beyond their capabilities, he really is a breath of fresh air. Some one in a job who actually knows what he is doing and he seems to love it too, that really does show. An absolutely great interview with the undemocratic and never elected mandelson(by the way what is it about liebour and not wanting elections?). It is a joy to watch and pretty powerful.Nick for prime minister?

Johnny Norfolk said...

I agree he came over as a proper chairman. It is far better than Paxman who just likes the sound of his own voice. Very professional Mr Robinson you have improved Newsnight no end.

What do the lefties think about him ?

jon dee said...

Robinson has restored credibility to Newsnight by putting political discussion back on an objective level.

The personalised sycophancy of the regular in-house team has turned the programme into a mutual appreciation society for BBC "progressives" and like-minded Labour favourites.

It's spark has returned and Robinson is the reason.

David said...

One of the good things about Nick Robinson (and as the left never fail to point out, an ex-chair of the Young Conservatives) is that he's done such a good job on Newsnight (now), Today (last Summer) and Late Night Live on 5Live (back in the distant times when 5Live was a semi-serious radio station) and seemed at home with all three quite distinct programmes.

And to whoever said the Corby judgement had not been reported by the BBC, it was the lead item on the website for some of the day, and the lead 15 minutes on the World at One. Obviously, hiding away the story placing it in such prominent places.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I never liked him much as a political correspondent. He always seemed to want to find something new to say and often it was just weird. On Newsnight he showed his intelligence and even more important, his calmness. He seemed to ask better questions than Paxman and his responses to the questions were more incisive and less sneering. Maitlis also gets a bit worked up and indignant which often works against her. All in all, I think he should be asked to stay on.

The Huntsman said...

Though I strongly suspect Robinson has never voted Tory, his performances have been much better than the tat we have been made to swallow from Esler, Wark and Maitliss (I exclude Paxo on the grounds that seeing someone being terribly rude to puffed up self-loving politicians is excellent sport).

Brisk, businesslike and concise, he has reminded us of what such prgrammes should be like across the board.

The rdownside is: having lots of plaudits on your blog will almost certainly ensure he is never allowed anywhere near Newsnight again.

The Huntsman said...

Keith Elliott @ 3:40

"Of course they will get it wrong on occasions, but for the most part they provide a reliable and (as broadcasters go) balanced reporting of the news."

Your return flight to the planet Zog will be leaving shortly. Please round up your marbles and take them with you when you leave.

concerned said...

He's doing a terrible job.
Monday's show where he sucked up to Mandy ( oooh err missus ) was nauseating. 'Will you go for the big job, could you have imagined being so close to power' etc etc...
I'm surprised you're supporting one of the BBC's most pro Labour reporters. He makes the BBC in general look positively neutral.

tankus said...

@ James "Yes, the Woolworths jobs were lost months ago, but the level of attention being given to one small factory is completely absurd in context."

Its the context of the story ..Mcdoom is always banging on about his green issues ,(tax) and yet this green company is closing down in the UK due to lack of interest or demand .

Robinson's biased blog gives me the arse , but that was a far better interview than the jug ears one . Especially the cuts . Mandy stated that he had his own language, several times, heh.... bit like teletubbies perhaps.

get rid of Wark.

Anonymous said...

I could not disagree more. The discussion that Nick Robinson led regarding the Gates/Crowley/Obama contretemps was pathetic! The intro to the "discussion" was a poor attempt to paint professor Gates as an innocent resident who just could couldn't get his front door open and was set upon by a racist, bullying cop. The most infuriating aspect of the whole mess was when Armstrong Williams actually tried to acquiant Nick Robinson with some of the facts in the case - namely that the distinguished professor Gates, when asked to present identification to the police officer, yelled "do you know who I am" and then proceeded to insult his mother and make other disparaging remarks - before Nick Robinson cut him off by saying, to paraphrase, "this is inappropriate". The whole Gates/Crowley episode is a simple case of failure to comply with a (reasonable) request of a police officer plus disorderly conduct. Armstrong Williams is correct that it is also a class issue in that Gates is an elite and Crowley is just some middle class cop who Gates belived had no right to tell him to do anything. Paints the whole episode in a rather different light does it not? Demonstrates to me that Nick Robinson is not interested in those sometimes pesky little things like facts and truth. There was a time when reporters sought those two things because they understood that our freedom in large part depends the public being informed of them - Woodward and Bernstein come to mind. Now all we have is "on-air talent" and "personalities". Sad really. And even more sad that viewers praise him for this.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine Robinson asking for enlightenment from the idiot Crick?

Penfold said...

Robbo has been a lefite sycophant for quite some time now.
Clearly he is beginning to see the writing on the wall, that LieBour are going to implode and be swept from power.
Naturally he needs to look to his future and career at the Beeb, so has adopted a more neutral stance and has become less agressive and combatorial towards the Tories.
He is like all the others in the media a slimy, slippery creature (Gollum like) on the main chance, out to further himself at everybody's expense, a committed leftie who will become a fellow traveller of the other side if it means his champagne lifestyle can be maintained.

I wouldn't praise him at all Iain, treat him with the contempt he deserves for the manner of his past, which we must never forget.
He, like the majority in the "meeja", are lefties and our enemies, they will stab us in the back at the first chance.

DespairingLiberal said...

I think many of you who post to this blog yelling about the iniquity of the license fee are the same sort of people who claim they should pay no taxes, believe that charges for car parks are theft, oppose all forms of public service, etc.

Yet strangely those same people are the first to phone for the police when their house is being burgled, call the council when there's a rat in the kitchen, moan when TV is full of repeats, etc, etc.

BTW Iain it's nice to see you for once not joining in the knee-jerk slagging off the Beeb behaviour that is so popular with many of your more knuckle-dragging readers.

It was strange seeing your gigantic face peering down at a tiny lady journalist on BBC News 24 not long ago. I turned over thinking I must be on Sky, but no, it was the BBC.

Martin said...

To the Grim Reaper (which hopefully the one eyed jock will be facing soon enough). Yes I know the jobs at Woolworth were lost months ago (I'm sure your sympathy for that would have been missed by those that lost thier jobs) but that was 30,000 jobs not a few hundred. The BBC didn't trumpet Woolworth workers like this bunch on the IoW. Regarding Mandelson, even a dry piece of dog poo would win in Hartlepool if it stood for Labour. And again WHO put him in charge of the Country? He's not an elected MP now and as much as I hate Hattie Hatemenperson, she is at least an MP who can be recalled to the House of Commons if needed.

The BBC continually underplay bad news for McDoom.

Again I ask does this small factory in the IoW that makes a product no one wants really deserve such a fuss? If they were making expensive sports cars I bet the BBC wouldn't be so enthusiastic to report it would they?

How quickly the BBC killed off the story about the soldiers being slaughtered in Afghanistan because McDoom wouldn't give them the equipment to do the job.

Why does the BBC never ask why NO Government Minister has ever bothered to attend the return of the coffins of the men THEY send off to be slaughtered in Afghanistan? Wouldn't that really put McDoom on the spot? It's question I suspect the general public would REALLY like to see asked but spineless BBC journalists never do. Anyone want to bet when Cameron wins the election the first thing Toenails or Marr asks is "Are you going to attend the return of coffins from Afghanistan?" I bet bet bet that is one of the first questions asked. Yet McPrat has never been put on the spot.

Anonymous said...

Many of my friends who work at the BBC certainly think so

You have friends at the BBC? That's your problem right there.

Julian said...

This would be a more suitable sinecure

http://radiowestfife.googlepages.com/

Anonymous said...

The Isle of Wight factory closure story is actually damaging to NuLab. To meet their announced low-carbon target, big wind turbines have to go up at a rate of two per day for years - crazy, but that's their plan. So to have the only plant in the UK actually making these turbine blades having to shut for lack of orders is curious to say the least....

Simon said...

He was doing well until it came to the Obama/professor/policeman item, when he made a pig's ear of it. Did he not know the story, did he not want to know the story, or did he just take fright that there was a danger something libelous might be said? Up to then he had been doing well, but that was a messy car crash.

norman said...

This is what Nick Robinson says in his blog:
"....My moonlighting at Newsnight is over and it's time for a summer break. Just a thought before I go..."

Not sure whether he will do on a regular basis. I always thought he is some kind of Shaun Woodward to flip from being a Conservative at the Uni to being a Labour sympthiser.

Lives somewhere nearby my home jst as Boris does, where as one could Boris peddling away, saw only once
in our tube station busily typing in the blackberry.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, I felt he was weak, Gavin and Paxo are far better.

Keith Elliott said...

The Huntsmen @ 10.34

Planet Zog, here I come! Whoo hoo.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Dale will be singing his superficial praises when Robinson lays into the Tories. We will see.

Anonymous said...

@ DespairingLiberal

Explain why there should be a licence fee for watching TV if you do not watch the BBC? I don’t see why I should subsidise your viewing habits and your liberal biases any more than you having to subsidise my ISP usage. The BBC is nothing like paying for using car parks (which you do if you use them), council services or the police.

Anonymous said...

Surely the first step is to have him as a replacement for Andrew Marr on Sunday mornings ?

I'm sure in the new 'cost-conscious' BBC they could see him doing both jobs ?

Anonymous said...

@ DespairingLiberal

"BTW Iain it's nice to see you for once not joining in the knee-jerk slagging off the Beeb behaviour that is so popular with many of your more knuckle-dragging readers."

And 'liberals' behaviour is to link anything they disagree with to knuckle-dragging, xenophobia and racism.

davefromluton said...

Newsnight needs a massive shake up.
Wark, Maitliss, Grossman and Crick should all be axed.
Let's have Robinson and why not Kelvin McKenzie. I find his paper reviews on Sky News the highlight of the week.

Anonymous said...

I think many of you who post to this blog yelling about the iniquity of the license fee are the same sort of people who claim they should pay no taxes,

And because you think it, it must be true.

Like most people, I simply don't understand why the British people should be unique in the world by having to pay a licence fee that funds jobs and entertainment for upper middle class southern English media graduates.

I would have thought an unrepentant class warrior such as yourself would have balked at the unfairness of making the unemployed, the elderly and the working poor pay what is (to them) a small fortune so that Jonathan Ross can have a six figure salary.

Is that your socialist definition of fairness?

Keith Elliott said...

Anonymous @ 2.57

"And 'liberals' behaviour is to link anything they disagree with to knuckle-dragging, xenophobia and racism."

And Tories suggest those of us who are liberal are from Planet Zog!

Horses for courses.

Ray said...

It's impossible to criticise the BBC too much!!!!

Thomas said...

Absolutely. A master presenter and there are not many of them around. He does it pleasantly too with an easy voice to listen to. A change from the squark and less agressive, but just as insistent, as Paxman.

bruno said...

Robinson was OK, but the programmes were very lightweight. Don't need Newsnight to be a later version of the One Show. The report on 3D films was the nadir - fine in another context, but what is it doing on an in-depth current-affairs programme?

Looked to me like they were filling quite a lot, and like almost all the regular reporters had taken time off at the same time, or refused to work with him (Crick excepted). Does Robinson bring his production team with him, did the Newsnight production team shape the programme to suit Robinson's lighter style, or was he just unlucky to get landed with a load of flim-flam?

Hope it's not a sign of the future. I am starting to feel starved of proper debate and insight on issues that matter. Those that don't like confrontation have the output of almost every channel at almost all hours of the day to view. Newsnight is a rare and precious legacy of an earlier journalistic era that could smell bullshit at 100 paces and challenged it, rather than wetly accepting that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Simon Gardner said...

So nobody saw the state Kelvin McKenzie was in on Sky newspapers last night. Pissed as a newt. Poor Anna Botting.

james.bottomley said...

Radio 4 alone is worth the license fee.

james.bottomley said...

Radio 4 alone is worth the license fee.

Mike hunt said...

Radio 4 alone is worth the license fee.

July 31, 2009 12:48 PM

radio 4 in my opinion is shit and not worth a penny.

Anonymous said...

"Radio 4 alone is worth the license fee."

You pay for it then. You shouldn't expect others to subsidise your listening/viewing habits.

David said...

God, the raving right in this country really are blinded by their hatred of the BBC, aren't they? They can't even see when an acknowledged Conservative is presenting a news programme, too busy accusing him of being a New Labour stooge.

Morons, the lot of you.

You lost, live with it.