The TV reporter who conducted Thursday’s bizarre interview with Ed Miliband, in which the Labour leader responded to every question with the same statement about his position on public sector strikes, has said he felt ashamed at the “professional discourtesy” in being used as a “recording device for a scripted soundbite”.
Damon Green, the ITV News correspondent who was interviewing Miliband for a pooled story that also went to the BBC and Sky News, has vented his anger at the Labour leader and his entourage in a 1,300 word piece posted on Twitter.
Green said that the resulting interview was “so absurd” that it is only “perfectly proper” that the full un-edited version of it “has found its way onto YouTube … to be laughed at along with all the clips of cats falling off sofas”.
In the two-minute 30-second version of the interview seen by the Guardian, Green tries six times to get Miliband to expand on his position about why he believes the strike action is wrong.
In each case he receives the same reply, that the strikes are wrong when negotiations are underway, the government has acted in a “reckless and provocative manner” and both sides need to “set aside the rhetoric” and “get around the negotiating table to stop this happening again”.
Green vented his anger at the Labour leader and his “handlers”, putting on a “convincing charade” of pretending to care about his line of questioning when they had a pre-planned PR line that they refused to go beyond.
“If news reporters and cameras are only there to be used by politicians as recording devices for their scripted soundbites, at best that is a professional discourtesy,” he said. “At worst, if we are not allowed to explore and examine a politician’s views, then politicians cease to be accountable in the most obvious way.”
He also criticised the approach of the three PR “handlers” Miliband sent in first who he claimed attempted to control the entire interview, down to trying to tell the cameraman about “framing and depth of field” and demanding that the Labour leader be put in front of a bookcase “with his family photos over his left shoulder”.
Despite knowing Miliband had been pre-briefed to give just one response, Green said his PRs also tried to control the line of questioning, a tactic he referred to as a “convincing charade”.
“His PR must have known that was what he was going to do,” he said. “And yet he still went through a convincing charade of pressing me on my line of interrogation, urging me to keep my questions brief and even – this was a macabre touch – placing a voice recorder on the table beside me as a kind of warning not to try and misquote his boss.”
Green said that as he came to the last question of what was clearly a disastrous interview, he felt an “urge” to ask a flippant question just to get a rise out of Miliband, like “What is the world’s fastest fish?”, “Can your dog do tricks?” or “Which is your favourite dinosaur?”. But he did not.
Instead at the end Green said he felt so ashamed that he could not look Miliband in the eye.
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