Jeremy Paxman talks to Alec Russell
The Art of the Interview in the Post-Truth Age
Saturday 1 April 2017
£15 - £20Ticket price
Britain’s most legendary political interviewer Jeremy Paxman talks to FT Weekend editor Alec Russell about the post-truth age – and how an interviewer exposes the truth in the face of politicians like Trump.
The introduction of the idea of “alternative facts” on day one of the Trump presidency underlines how “post-truth politics” has captured the zeitgeist. From appeals to emotion disconnected from details to disdain for factual rebuttals, the Brexit campaign was brimming with examples of this. What of the notorious claim that EU membership cost £350 million? Donald Trump proved a master of the form with his splenetic use of Twitter against his rivals inside and outside his own party. How does a political interviewer and a news organisation such as the BBC respond to post-truth politics? And how does your average voter get to the truth of issues today?
Paxman is famous for his relentless grilling of politicians and his unremitting pursuit of an answer to questions. He spent a quarter of a century at Newsnight where his interviewing style overturned the cosy relationship between interviewer and subject. He is the quizmaster on University Challenge and has written and presented a number of television series including Empire, The Victorians and Great Britain’s Great War. His latest book is his memoir, A Life in Questions, in which he looks back at 40 years behind the camera, including his time as a reporter, the principles that governed his working life, the workings of the BBC and some of the characters, good and bad, that have crossed his path.
Russell has previously run the FT’s news operation and its commentary. In a long career as a foreign correspondent, he covered wars in Bosnia and Croatia, did two stints in southern Africa, covering the end of white rule and the Mandela presidency, and covered the Bush administration as a White House correspondent. He is author of three books including the latest After Mandela – the Battle for the Soul of South Africa.