Newsnight is that tough news analysis programme where feisty presenters take controversial figures apart in searing interviews – right? er..on the evidence of last night’s interview by Kirsty Wark with Madonna – not at all.
The fearless Kirsty Wark usually does not shirk from battering cabinet ministers, religious fundamentalists or neo-conservatives. So surely she was going to give Madonna a tougher ride than Oprah Winfrey did over the Malawi adoption row? Er…again, not at all.
Judge for yourself just how soft Kirsty was and judge for yourself what the Madonna critics say.
It was good that Newsnight did not bully Madonna and it was good that they were not snobbish about the fact that she is a celeb. But this was a patronisingly weak piece of interrogation. And the reason is that it was actually recorded as part of a soft feminist celebrity series on famous women. Newsnight extracted the Malawi bit for their own show. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Kirsty is a Newsnight stalwart, it both looked and sounded anything but journalistic.
I love Newsnight under its Editor Peter Barron. He’s brought freshness and style alongside incisive journalism. So this item stood out even more as a false move and a terrrific example of hardened news people falling under the celebrity spell.