Why stuff Paxo for not taking no for an answer?


Christopher Adams of the FT is hardly alone in his choice of the most toe-

curling moment on the election trail. It happened when Ffion was asked if she was enjoying it and William answered for her: "She’s enjoying it immensely."

The whole idea was for his radiant and accomplished wife to enhance his image with the public. So why shouldn’t the public’s press question him about her strange silence?

Was she under orders? Or did she choose to say nothing rather than mouth sound-bites prepared by her husband’s spin doctors? Wouldn’t it be nice to know?

The First Commandment for journalists is: Thou shalt not take no for an answer (except, of course, in thine office). It doesn’t apply to widows and orphans. But it applies to politicians bigtime (to borrow the US adverb currently much in favour on The Sun’s tablets of stone).

So how come our most fearless red top laid into our most fearless TV inquisitor bigtime for pressing Mr Hague to explain Mrs Hague’s dumb show?

Jeremy Paxman was admonished: "Careful, Paxo. We especially found the personal questions about Ffion over the top. If Ffion has decided to say nothing, that is a matter for her."

Really? Was she there only to be described as wearing a camel trouser suit a shade lighter than her hair, and carrying a matching Kelly bag?

Paxo’s refusal to take no for an answer did not deserve to be criticised by print journalists who persevere no less than he does but out of shot. Nor was Paxo harassing a widow or an orphan. Paxo was harassing a politician running for the highest office in the land.

Oughtn’t any such figure to be able to cope with relentless questioning from a journalist, particularly one relentless only with people who know with whom they have agreed or pleaded to cross swords?

Certainly, any possible next Prime Minister (or next Leader or ex-Leader of the Opposition) ought to be up to coping with a Newsnight barbecue.

Politicians who can’t stand the heat should stay out of Paxo’s kitchen. Nor should they set their alarms for 5am in time to be insulted by John Humphrys. Or flayed by the Brothers Dimbleby. Or soothed to self-

destruction by David Frost.

If sensitive questions are not to be pressed, lest they upset the paper of Richard Littlejohn ("Kennedy’s relationship with Blair is the same as Divine Brown’s with Hugh Grant") what’s left for journalists to purvey but propaganda? Bigtime.

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