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I’ve been reading ‘Why is This Lying Bastard Lying to Me?’ by Rob Burley

This is Rob Burley’s account of his 25-year-long career making political television programmes, mostly for the BBC. He starts with the political interviews that he watched as a child between Brian Walden and Margaret Thatcher, and concludes with thoughts on the start of Rishi Sunak’s term as Prime Minister.

There were some great insights into the work that goes into making such programmes, with a particular focus on long-form interviews. Burley’s views on many of the topics he discusses are almost diametrically opposed to my own, and his passionate arguments were therefore interesting to read.

Burley believes that television interviews are particularly important, and perhaps the best way of testing political candidates. I think that radio, television, and press interviews and profiles all have equally significant roles to play. Burley argues that the failure of Truss and Johnson to participate in set-piece 30-minute television interviews is almost an affront to democracy—I don’t think they would have changed a thing. I don’t think it’s reasonable to argue that the electorate didn’t know what they were getting from the acres of coverage and dissection of both of their campaigns. I think their choice not to face a forensic interview was revealing in its own way. Burley didn’t convince me of his perspective, but I appreciated his insights.

The book was also very funny in parts. It was light and very readable. I enjoyed it.

This post was filed under: Post-a-day 2023, What I've Been Reading, .

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