26/02/2014 Newsnight


Angela Merkel's visit to London, a possible mass animal extinction, the magic of government statistics and Jerry Springer. With Jeremy Paxman.

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Britain tomorrow won't be David Cameron. The most powerful figure in


Britain will be Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, the Prime


Minister wants to renegotiate our EU membership, what succre can she


offer? What she want promise has no power to offer is the possibility of


treaty change. Will it be enough? These animals are on the verge of


extinction. Could these ones be going the same way, why isn't the


planet big enough for all of us. And... The first trip is vanish --


the first trick is vanishing inflation. If you wonder whether


Government plays fast and loose with statistic, we will show you how it


is done. And Jerry Springer on whether television serves up poor


people as a freak show for the amusement of couch potatoes.


Break out the beer, the Riesling the sasauges and the sourkraut, we are


on the eve of a celebration of all things German. The Chancellor of the


most powerful country in Europe is in London tomorrow to address a


joint meeting of parliament. Having tea with the Queen and being


buttered up by David Cameronment he wants to keep her sweet because


she's potentially his most powerful ally in his attempts to renegotiate


this country's relationship with Europe. An opinion poll today


suggested voters in the two countries have some quite similar


views on the European project. Emily Maitlis has been looking ahead to


the visit, which, like Emily's report, may contain flash


photography. ??FORCEDWHI # Here she comes... No, not the


Queen, but she might as well be, such is the weight of expectation


sitting on the German Chancellor's shoulders. Angela Merkel's due here


tomorrow, she will get the full royal treatment. It is what she may


say in private that may have a far greater impact. The Prime Minister


is hoping to hear from her something akin to support for the kind of


Europe that his party envisages. My admiration for Angela Merkel is


enormous and there are many things that she has achieved that I would


like to copy, not least getting re-elected! Angela Merkel gets to


come here it address both Houses and she gets tea with the Queen. Warm


words from the Prime Minister this morning, it all adds up to a very


different level of reception to that accorded other European heads of


state in recent weeks. It's far cry, for example, from the treatment the


French President got when he turned up here last month. Mr Hollande,


more renowned for his social life than socialism, was greeted with a


pub lunch. Now no-one can complain about an English country pub, but it


wasn't tea with Her 34. Madge. There is a clear reason behind the


love-bombing, David Cameron needs Angela Merkel to guarantee him


assurances in a revised treaty if he's to win a referendum campaign on


the EU. I asked the deputy EU if he thinks that could happen? Reform


yes, but unilateral repatriation, no. Merkel, for her part has a


vested interest in keeping Britain happy. As a figurehead of EU power,


she can't afford to see Britain leave it. I think she can offer


certainly her support when it comes to some areas where there are strong


common interests. One is to reduce EU regulation and red tape for small


and medium-sized enterprise, another would be the support for a trade


policy. Fine, says this woman, who understands German sensibilities


better than most, but it won't be enough. I think she would be able to


deliver what I call some "smarties", that will allow people to feel good


about themselves in a limited way. In terms of the fundamental


renegotiation which part of the British political class is looking


for, returning powers, Angela Merkel is simply not in that kind of


business. What the Conservatives want to set in stone, are what they


call "limited opt-outs", ways of Britain more power for certain areas


of policy. One German politician put it to my early it is not very likely


for an opt-out, saying we British want an opt-out for the financial


industry, and the Germans for the automotive industry, and the French


for their sheep, in other words, once you start you would never stop.


This restaurant, you didn't think you would see a whole piece on


German state visit without a reference to a sausage, is the baby


of two expatriots, they have been here four years, I asked how they


see the British appetite for Europe? Split in half because in some ways


the Brits always like to be the Brits on their own, in a way, I


think. But obviously they are also collaborative. So I don't know what


to really say? I'm totally in agreement, as long as they can keep


the pound! All is good! Hopefully fingers crossed. They serve the


Chancellor's favourite street food here, Crushy wurst, probably not on


the menu for the dignitaries tomorrow. It is over lunch they will


get down to business. Angela Merkel will all for targeted treaty change.


This is a phrase that doesn't exist in EU process or proceed ducks and


Labour argue if the language were made any plainer the gap between


what David Cameron wants and what Chancellor Merkel can actually offer


would be way too obvious. The Chancellor will see all three


leaders tomorrow, each is likely to claim a meeting of minds. State


craft is a powerful tool, but once the red carpet is re-rolled and the


day is done, the Prime Minister will have to see with his own party if


the German Chancellor has come with enough. Emily's here with more


developments on coalition machinations. There were suggestions


that David Cameron would rule out any future coalition and even make


it a manifesto pledge if he thought it would bring back his backbenchers


or anyone who might lend UKIP their vote and tell them he wants to go it


alone. Last night on this programme you will remember Len McClusky from


Unite, urging Ed Miliband to say he would lead a majority if he could do


so. I put it to Nick Clegg in the press conference and asked him if he


had a direct Conservatives, or any knowledge that this is what David


Cameron might be wanting, along the lines of a coalition in future?


Clearly there is a... How can I put it a McClusky tendency in both the


Labour and the Conservative Party, what you are seeing is the last gasp


of the assumption from the two bigger parties that some how they


have always got a right to run things. It is now, they are now some


how claiming that they would have a right to decide how this country is


governed, even if they don't win a majority, that is clearly a


preposterous assertion. He sounds pretty confident he will be in power


again? He thinks, given the shape of electoral mathematics now, that


coalitions will be more not less likely. He thinks for that reason


the public have to get used to two parties working to the, even if they


don't particularly get on. The example he used was work place


colleagues. He says that people have to get used to hearing different


things because they all experience it themselves. Some will have


noticed, rather more stride dent tone in the recent weeks about Tory


partner, they have been saying things like "unbalanced" "unfocussed


and "dangerous policies", you but today he said the public knows and


expect us not to be on the same page. One source close to the


cabinet told me today that although they were going all out for a


majority, this was a Tory source, they would find it much easier to


work again with t Lib Dems than their own backbenchers. Still to


come, Jerry Springer on how television portrays the poor. The


two Muslim fanatics who hacked an offduty soldier to death were


sentenced today, one got a minimum 45 years, the other should spend the


rest of his life in prison. Neither showed remorse in court, and the


judge said one was beyond the possibility of rehabilitation. So


they will live at the tax-payers' expense for decades to come. What


can be done with them during that time. This report contains some


flashing images. It was, the judge said, a betrayal of Islam and the


peaceful Muslims who give so much to this country. Michael Adebolajo and


his accomplice, Michael Adebowale, started screaming and had to be


hauled from the dock as they were sentenced to long prison terms


today. There were sobs from the relatives and friends of Fusilier


Lee Rigby, who all sat in silence throughout the judge's remarks. A


police detective read the family's statement outside the Old Bailey.


The Rigby family welcomes the whole life and significant sentences that


have been passed down on Lee's killers. We feel that no other


sentence would have been acceptable and we would like to thank the judge


and the courts for handing down what we believe to be the right prison


terms. Both men will start their sentences at a category A prison,


like Belmarsh, in south London. This place has held some of the most


high-profile terror suspects of recent years, from the radical


preacher Abu Hamza, to one of the men behind the failed London


bombings. One in six of the men behind the walls is a Muslim


prisoner. As we were filming the man carrying Adebolajo and Adebowale


pulled into the prison gates. Both men will be held in the


high-security unit here, where any contact with other prisoners is


tightly controlled. They have their phone calls monitored, it is


unlikely they will be allowed to pray alongside other inmates. These


men served time in Belmarsh after being jailed for soliciting murder


after a rally about a cartoon satirising the profit Mohammed.


Their views are extreme to other Muslims. The fact they are in the


high-security unit people will be interested in what they were like. I


remember when Abu Hamza was in the unit, people hoped to be in the unit


just to see what they will like and hear what he has to say. A lot of


people in the prison system, that will go through their mind. First


and foremost they won't be able to see them in the high-security unit


isolated from all other prisoners. Perhaps five years down the line


will they transfer them to other high-security prisons where people


may have similar views. Looking up terror suspects and convicts in the


same place as of course led to serious difficulties in the past.


The H-blocks in the Maze were notorious recruiting grounds for


republicans and unionists. The authorities started worrying that


looking up high numbers of extremists in Belmarsh could store


up similar problems, there was a decision made to disperse those


convicted of high-profile terror offences across the estate. It is a


massive challenge for prison officers up and -- prison officers


up and down the country, because you don't know what you are facing


day-to-day. For example those prisoners themselves with extreme


and radical views may well be the target themselves from the rest of


the prison population. They could be dangerous towards prison officers,


and the danger for them is that they radicalise other prisoners. Official


Muslim chaplains are now being used to Dublin a new programme of


one-to-one sessions meant for inmates with the most entrenched


views. Independent advisers who work with extremists say it is possible


to make a difference. You have to remember that these people hold


these extreme ideas, they are religious zealot, they are people


that want to propagage their point of view. They want to convince


others around them. You have a premise for engaging in the first


place. The difficulty would be I guess the idea that whether you are


a credible interlocketer or not, are you someone they could be worth


engaging with, you have to establish that credibility. Critics say the


Government strategy isn't cutting through, of the 150 people convicts


of terrorist-related offences in recent years, it is thought 40 have


agreed to par at thises operate in the programme -- participate in the


programme. The prison him mans were seen with suspicion. Nobody saw them


as somebody who confide in or even to really refer to or to ask. They


saw them as another guard or governor who was there to gather


intelligence and information. In the case of Adebolajo and Adebowale any


talk of rehabilitation and re-entry to society may mean little. Neither


will be eligible for release until 2059. It is up to the authorities


now to monitor and control. We are joined by Peter Neumann, founder and


director of the international centre for radicalisation at King's College


London. What will happen to these men? They are both going to go to


prison. One will be there without any chance of parole, the other one


is going to be released when he's a pensioner. So I don't think we


should expect any miracles. They don't have any incentive to change


their beliefs. If anything their incentive is to stick to their


beliefs, to change them would be to admit to themselves that they have


wasted their lives. Will they be free to associate with other inmates


do you think? The way it is being handled in this country is they are


being treated as high-security prisoners so they are in a


high-security prison. And within these high-security prisons there


are so called specialist units, they are not particularly made for


terrorism offenders but the chance to interact with the rest of the


prison population is pretty limited. You are an expert on


deradicalisation, you have already hinted that there may not be much


reason to think of deradicalising, but 45 years or longer is a great


time to think about it? Absolutely. But since they are not going to be


let out, I wonder if any efforts are going to be made? What would be the


point of doing that? The principle incentive to deradicalise people is


they will be let back into society at some point. If you are not going


to be let back into society why would you even try? Are they similar


in any sense to other guerrilla groups, terrorist groups that have


been in prison, I'm thinking for example of the IRA? So the principle


difference between Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists and Irish republicans,


Irish republicans looked at other prisoners as ordinary criminal, they


wanted nothing to do with them. They didn't want to recruit them, they


saw themselves as superior to them. Where as Al-Qaeda-inspired prisoners


see their time in prison as an opportunity to radicalise. If they


are being exposed to other prisoners they will try to make recruits. That


creates a dilemma for the prison authorities, they can't allow them


to associate with other prisoners that much because they will try to


radicalise them. They are a real security risk? They are, they are


and they have been, there have been incidents, and Abu Qatada said he


saw so many people in prisons coming in ripe for recruitment. And now it


is a dilemma for the prison authorities because they don't want


the prisoners to be exposed to them. Let's hope there are no more


incidents, if there are more there will be more men and women being


locked up, because the Government have a strategy? Well the


Government, if you had asked me that question five or six years ago I


would have said probably no, but over the past five or six years they


have actually done quite a lot, so prison staff have been trained,


there are moderate Imans in prisons, you don't have to go to extremist to


get religious instructions. There are a lot of things in place that


would prevent radicalisation happening. It is not perfect but


better than it was five or six years ago. Thank you very much. Now the


end of life as we know it. In the last 500 million or so years there


have been five mass extinctions of life on earth. The most famous is


the one that wiped out the dinosaurs after a meetite about the --


meteorite in excess of 45,000 miles an hour hit the earth. We are


entering a sixth mass extinction it is thought, this time the agent is


us. Kolbert is the author of The Sixth Extinction -- Elizabeth


Kolbert is author of The Sixth Extinction, and we have the previous


economist and writer from the Economist. Elizabeth Kolbert, how


close are we to the sixth extinction? Well, some people would


say that they are, you know, only on the verge of it, we can still


prevent it and some scientists would say we are pretty deep into this


project already. That we have been, human cause of extinction is a thing


that goes back 50,000 years or so ago, since our ancestors went to


places like Australia and caused a wave of extinctions. Do you worry


about this? Yes I do. It is a really dramatic impact we have had on other


species on the planet. I'm a little less pessimistic in that I think


richer countries are beginning to take this in hand. One of the key


factors in this is climate change isn't it? Yes. Climate change is


predicted. If you, once again, all we can do at this point, because


there is a pretty big lag time in the system in climate change. So


there is a lot of modelling efforts, people trying to figure out what


will the world look like 50-100 years from now. Many of the studies


will be climate change will become the major driver of extinction. It


isn't at this point. There we are. Some reassurance there? Well, if


climate change is at the upper end of current estimates, then it will


be disastrous, but if it is at the lower end than probably most


biodiversity won't have that much of a problem with it. What time scale


are we talking about here? In terms of climate change? Yeah. Well we can


see some serious climate change by the end of the century. Some people


are talking about four degrees, some talking one degree. One degree is


not that much of a problem, four degrees is a massive problem. Let's


supposing, Elizabeth Kolbert, I don't think in New York you can see


this, but we have a rather nice illustration of a spotted frog,


which has now vanished conveniently, a spotted frog and a wildcat. But


supposing these creatures disappear, in what way are we diminished? We


are really talking about the richness and variety of life on


earth, which is last taken many, many millions of years reach this


point, and we are unravelling it very, very quickly. We have to be


concerned on absolutely all levels, on an ethical and practical level,


at every level. Surely extinction is the natural counterpart to


evolution. Everything is going to become extinct at some point? That


is absolutely true. The question is the rate at which things are


becoming extinct. When you think about it, it is absolutely clear.


You don't see new species popping up around you all the tile. And you


shouldn't, in the course of a human lifetime for example you should not


be able to see a single species of mammal go extinct, it should only


happen on the order of many hundreds of years that one species of mammal


should go extinct. If they are going extinct faster than that, it means


they are evolving more slowly an extinction, the variety of the


planet is plummeting. That is happening now. Are you bothered by


this deminute fusion in variety? Yes, but I do think we need to look


at the efforts that a lot of countries are making to stop this


reduction in variety. If you look over the last 30 years in the rich


world we have made huge efforts in terms of getting rid of invasive


species, of increasing nature reserves. The deforestation on the


Amazon is running now at about 10% of what it was ten years ago. All


over the world people are making a huge effort to stop this happening.


You are absolutely right that over thousands of years humanity has had


a disastrous affect on other species, but there is a good chance


that we, simple Lewis because we have decided to, may be able to stop


this destruction. And there will be plenty of people at home will say


frankly what does it matter if the spotted frog disappears? A number of


things, all sorts of species have really interesting DNA that medical


researchers are increasingly realising can solve all sorts of


problems that scientists which themselves cannot. Chairman Mao


decided to wipe out all the sparrows and the result was a playing of


insects. We need creatures more than we think we did. What do you make of


the argument that human kind has it within its possibility of doing


something to arrest this extinction, which may already have started, not


of the frog of the general extinction, the mass extinction? I


certainly hope that Emma is right. Absolutely. I think that what is


propelling this extinction event forward is the ways in which we are


changing the planet. Changing the planet on a global, geological


scale. Very rapidly, much more rapidly than most species can adapt


to, what we need to be thinking about and we need to be thinking


about it very fast and on a global level is how we are doing that and


how can we minimise our impact. Let as be realistic about it, this is


all accelerating since the Industrial Revolution kicked off.


Which has been a huge benefit to human kind. Are you suggesting that


we some how diminish the benefits to human kind in order that we avoid


something that may happen in a couple of million years time. How do


you get people to think about that? I don't think we are talking about


something that may happen in a couple of million years time. If we


continue on the trajectory we are on, we are talking about causing a


significant extinction event, a major extinction event within a


matter of centuries, not a couple of million years from now. We are not


talking about something that lies in some distant mythological future,


and balancing what people need. There are as you suggest seven. Two


billion of us on the planet right now, balancing what we need and


want, against the needs of all the other creatures with whom we share


this planet, the challenge really I think of our times and as was


suggested it is not some abstract thing that is it nice to share your


planet on with other creature, we dependant on those other creatures.


I will ask Emma a question, without any preparation, could you persuade


your children to wore and care about -- worry and care about an event


that may happen in century's time? ? I would encourage them in different


ways, I would say we need soil to grow stuff and DNA. You look very


sceptical, but, about, more than a quarter, something like a half of


the new drugs found these days comes from the DNA of other creatures,


this is really important to us. Plus, people like nature, you know.


People actually like holidaying in the sun, they don't want live in


concrete jungles. Even the Chinese they have destroyed their


environment more than anywhere else on the planet, they are now creating


National Parks as a faster rate than anywhere else in the world. We could


talk all night on this. Now there is a 97% chance you will believe this


and a very much smaller chance that you won't. Politicians misused


statistics to their own advantage. The head of the statistics society,


the man in charge of guarding the official significants pointed out


today that figures given by the Government for spending on flood


defences weren't all they appeared to be. Ed Miliband announced that


the Government was banged to rights, and no Labour Government would ever


stoop so low as we all know. In this four-year period and indeed in this


parliament overall spending on flood defences has gone up. Mr Speaker I


am afraid that the figures the Prime Minister is quoting are phoney, and


I believe he knows it. How is it that politicians are always able, as


if by magic, to find statistics to suit their case? Revealing the


Westminster's inner circle's inner trick, we present to you tonight


Lessons in Lull illusion. The First trip is vanishing inflation. The


slight of -- sleight of hand here is the Government hopes you don't


realise that money loses its value over time. You might hear them talk


about protecting a budget in cash terms, that is what they say when


they can't say they are protecting a budget in real terms. That is to say


they are increasing the budget faster than inflation. If you


protect it only in tax terms it means you are only cutting it by


more than 10%. The The second trick is apples and oranges. This piece of


conjuring is very switch but very powerful. What you do is you compare


two numbers and they seem to talk about the same thing but aren't the


same at all. Chris Grahaming back in 20 -- Grayling produce figures that


showed a rise in crime in the 1980s, but in truth statisticians knew it


had fallen. But Mr Grayling was looking at the way they recorded


crime. That was one trick that didn't come off. For their next


trick the amazing moving goal posts. This is where Governments just


change rules when the data doesn't suit them. Take the case of Gordon


Brown, he set himself two fiscal rules, those are rules that are


designed to show that he was a prudent custodian of the public


finances. When one of them, the golden rule, didn't suit him, he


fiddled with the definitions of the data and finally changed the years


over which it would count. For their next trick, junk research. Ministers


can just commission dodgy analysis. Cambridge University opposed plans


to change the AS-level, presenting real research that showed it was


helpful. Whitehall officials cooked up some nonsense numbers of their


own in retaliation. Finally, just lying claim You know how that works.


But even so they do a lot of it. Takes the case of the Liberal


Democrats who claimed credit for a doubling of our offshore wind


capacity since 2010. That did actually happen, we have increased


our offshore wind capacity, but all because of policies undertaken by


the last Government. Everyone involved in politics says they want


more evidence-based policy. But if we are going to have that we need


everyone involved in politics, the politicians, the lobbyists, the


charities and the journalists to just be a little bit straighter when


it comes to statistics. Chi Onwurah is a Labour Shadow


Cabinet office minister with an MBA in statistic, David Spiegelhalter is


Professor for public understanding at the University of Cambridge. You


are not surprised Governments play slightly fast and loose with


statistics? As we saw in the segment, you need to tell a story to


get a message across. Politicians need to tell us in the story and a


narrative, and statistics are important. Characters in that


narrative. The real danger comes when they are part of the fiction.


It is the case that this Government seems to be running a kind of


culture of statistical administration. Gordon Brown


wouldn't have doing anything like that would he? This Government has


been written to by the national statistics authority, so repeatedly,


a so many times that it is becoming embarrassing. It is also the case


that this Government doesn't believe in active intervention. They are not


going to freeze energy prices. Get off the party horse for a second?


When you believe it should be left to free markets then you need to do


more, you have more of a temptation to manipulate the statistics. Do you


think things have got cleaner and better? Actually I think they have a


bit. I think they have got better. I think statistics now are subject to


more scrutiny than they used to be. There is agencies such as Fact Check


and Full Fact, that will take people to task, then there is the national


statistics authority. When be somebody sees a bad number they


write to Sir Andrew Dilnot, it is like going to the headmaster and say


David Cameron said something wrong and then he's writing letters. It is


a great development that politicians are being held to account for their


use of numbers. Is public understanding any better though?


Yes, that was supposed to be my job. It is difficult, I mean the royal


statistical society has a campaign to try to improve public and


political understanding of statistics and chance and risk and


how that will work in society. It is a long job, to give them their


credit the changes to the GCSE and the proposed new core maths


qualification should also contribute to that in education. Do your


colleagues have any idea of statistics? MPs represent people,


and coming from engineering it was something of a shock to the system


to see the extent to which the understanding of statistics and


figures and being familiar around numbers is no better than the public


average. The fact that what we say tends to be amplified we contribute


often more to the noise than the signal when it comes to statistics


and figures. That is really important because statistics are so


important. I often think about Florence Nightingale, well known as


a nurse, less well known as a statistical innovator who invented


the Pi Chart and said if you want to understand God's thoughts you must


study statistics for there is written his purposes. I wouldn't put


it so religiously, I would say if you want to understand humanity and


Government achievement study statistics. For example in


Newcastle, some areas of Newcastle the average life expectancy is 15


years more than some areas of south Kensington. It tells us. Fewer,


sorry 15 years fewer than in some areas of south nsington. That tells


us a lot about our society. In a highly educated person like you


makes that elementary slip where will the rest of us go. I'm sure


that everybody could make slips and what we're talking about here is the


public understanding and use of statistics.


There is a big difference though between the sort of job that we have


got over here and your sort of job. Your job is about clean, facts,


data? Yes. Your job is about judgment? That's very true. I don't


think you can make a complete split. People who produce statistics knows


that statistics have been chosen and constructed. They are not just pure


facts about the world. The last unemployment figures in the last


couple of weeks says unemployment has gone down 124,000, no it hadn't.


It is based on a survey, did you know that. They only know those


figures accurately to plus or minus 100,000. People don't know that.


That changes almost within the margin of error? Exactly. But last


year unemployment went down by 37,000 and a big fuss was made about


it, actually you had no idea if it had gone down or not. That is not


part of the discourse. People don't understand that statistics are


actually constructed to some extent. The argument today with David


Cameron and the flooding expenditure, that was because of


changing the time scale, changing not allowing for inflation, it was


what you included in terms of expenditure, all those little


changes meant that they could say they sent more than Labour did in


their period. It is not to say those statistics in a sense are correct,


it is just what they chose to use. That is why you do need people to


look rat these, to take them -- to look at these and take them apart


and deconstruct them. It is not a choice between fact and fiction,


there is always an element of judgment in the statistics we have


useded. You have to use facts to get across developed policy and a


message. What we can perfectly agree about is the really important


decision that is we're taking now. Say on flood defence but in the


future around climate change and increasing population extinction


there will be a lot of statistics involved in making those choices,


people have to understand how they are used and politicians who have


the job of getting those decisions made have to understand them. Can I


ask you on public subjects understanding. At what point does an


unemployment figure become reliable. If it goes down by 50,000 it is


meaningless. It is not meaning less, it is more likely to go down rather


than up, but it has to go down by 100,000 for the confidence of it


going down. The broadcasting regulator Ofcom


says it is going to investigate the Channel 4 programme Benefits Street,


after receiving the best part of 2,000 complaints. Yet the programme


yielded Channel 4 their biggest audience for the best of two years.


It is more evidence of the way in which a particular portrayal of poor


people on television has become immensely popular. The people on the


Jeremy Kyle show on the ITV reflects the same taste. The old injunction


for the special care and reverence for the poor seems to have been


shunted aside for the freak show. There was a time not so long ago


when the two people you needed and replied upon were your grand show.


Years ago the talk show was a careful gassing about the business


of the day, and perhaps the little general discussion on such saucy


topics as relationships. Then this happened... The Jerry Springer show


and others like it found huge ratings success in the 1990s, with


an increasingly unashamed brand of lurid personal confession and


confrontation between protaganists. My next guests say they have double


the troupe. At the show's peak this journalist turning politician turned


ring master, he spawned a foul mothed opera in his tribute.


# Hope you die slow with Payne The airing of dirty washing on


national television format has found notable success on these shores too.


The Jeremy Kyle once "human bear bating" by a judge has reached its


ten years. Recently Channel 4's Benefits Street brought a slanging


match over whether the trove viles of poor people -- at that veils of


poor people should be put on television.? ? What does the creator


of these shows think about the monster he helped to create. The


Godfather of the confessional chat show is here. Are you ashamed of it?


The show is stupid but I have always thought the show is stupid. Ashamed,


not. Shouldn't you be? No, not any more than a journalist should be


doing the news. For example you would make a living, let as say you


are a journalist and you do the news every night, every night you tell


stories about very bad things and it is very profitable for the station,


you are not necessarily helping the people you talk about, newspapers


are in that business all the time. You could decide, you could decide


only to put well-scrubbed, wealthy people that speak the Queen's


English on television and just do that. But that wouldn't reflect the


whole society. You are being factitious? No television should


reflect, in a free society the entire culture. If all shows were


like mine that would be wrong. But you cannot just have television that


is like Friends, Seinfeld, all these good looking and wealthy people and


you love it. If some wealthy and famous person goes on television and


talks about who he or she has been sleeping with, we can't get enough


of it, we cheer them. If it is a person of low income we say trash,


trash, like they are less than another person. Speak for yourself,


some of us chose not to look at either? You do watch television, are


you saying here that you don't want television? Of course you watch


television. I'm interested in whom is sleeping with whom? I'm not, I


watch sport. I don't watch my show I have always said that. If I was in


college I would. I would get a hoot out of it. I'm saying we shouldn't


be too uppity and say if these shows show poor people it is trash but if


it is rich people it is OK. It is not that it shows poor people but


that it ex-employments poor people? -- it exploits poor people. I worked


in news for ten years, that was exploitation, never once was there a


conversation in the newsroom that we should drop a story because this


story might hurt this person, ruin their career, ruin their marriage or


as you them discomfort. We never cared about the people we did


stories on. You were working in a rubbish newsroom. I have been party


to those conversations many a time? You are telling me when you run a


story on the BBC that puts someone in a bad light, you ask their


permission first. No, not ask their permission, that is what you said, a


conversation saying is this going to be damaging to the person, that


Conservatives most certainly the one? Did you say to the person who


was it was damaging and you don't run the story. That happened many a


time? That is not true. If


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