Not that you needed another reason to loathe and despise the BBC – but check out what it has done to this interview with Jordan Peterson.
Peterson was being interviewed for a BBC World Service show called HARDTalk, presented by former foreign correspondent Stephen Sackur.
On screen – and in his presence – Sackur introduced Peterson as: a “Canadian clinical psychologist whose defence of traditional values has won him a worldwide following.”
But once Peterson was out of the way and the interview was in the bag, the BBC went and renosed the interview for the podcast version – prefacing it with all manner of sneery innuendo and barely-disguised loathing.
“His big thoughts about the importance of traditional values, the onus on men to toughen up and the dangers – as he sees it – of a neo-Marxist political correctness appear to chime with the spirit of our times. At least for a swathe of alienated, angry men. Peterson has in fact been described as the perfect public philosopher for the Age of Donald Trump. To his critics – and there are many – he is simply an intellectual apologist for a reactionary, sexist brand of conservatism which seeks to thwart progressive social change.”
I wonder if Sackur had said such things to his face Peterson would have agreed to carry on with the interview. Perhaps he would. The BBC being the BBC, Peterson must surely have known he wasn’t get a sympathetic hearing.
Though I wouldn’t say Sackur’s interview technique is quite as hamfisted as Cathy Newman’s on Channel 4 News, it probably outdoes it in charmlessness and obdurate determination to prove Peterson to be a wrong ‘un regardless of anything he actually says.
Where do they find these SJW zealots? Glancing at Sackur’s Wikipedia page – King Edward VI Grammar School, Spilsby, then Emmanuel, Cambridge, then stints as a foreign correspondent first in Eastern Europe, then in the Middle East – I don’t see any obvious reason why the man should have turned out so tragically, irredeemably left-wing and closed-minded. I guess it’s just something that happens to you when you’ve been a BBC man all your career (as Sackur has since 1986). You imbibe the culture and embrace its shibboleth’s unquestioningly.
At times, Sackur’s desperation to cast Peterson in a bad light becomes so obvious it’s quite embarrassing.
There’s one glorious moment where, in order to pin Peterson down as a dangerous, hateful, sexist reactionary, he suggests that if Peterson had been around in the 19th century he would have been against votes for women. Ah yes: the ingenious “bad things you would have done and thought if you’d lived in my hypothetical version of history” argument. [I once almost applied to Emmanuel, Cambridge. If Sackur is intellectually representative then I’m jolly glad I didn’t].
But the best moment is where Sackur, flailing disastrously by this stage, seeks to pour scorn on Peterson by ridiculing his line on the similarities between human behaviour and that of lobsters.
“I’m no expert,” begins Sackur, ludicrously.
Then continues: “It seems on the face of it to be somewhat bizarre to compare lobsters to human’s given the relative sizes of their brains.”
And that’s it. That is Stephen Sackur of the BBC’s best shot – the killer line which is going to render Jordan Peterson’s reputation void.
Hmm. Call me biased – at least, unlike the BBC’s employees I’m happy to admit it – but I don’t think it’s Peterson’s credibility that will have been irretrievably damaged by this interview. Stephen Sackur’s, on the other hand: ew!