A series of broadcast interviews with RMT union leader Mick Lynch have led many to question the effectiveness of more combative interview styles.
Broadcasters like Robin Day and then Jeremy Paxman pioneered a less deferential, more forthright interviewing style than had previously been the norm, as a way of countering stone-walling from media-trained politicians.
But many believe Lynch came out on top when a confrontational approach was adopted by broadcaster interviewers.
The Spectator said Lynch made “mincemeat out of politicians and broadcast interviewers alike”, the New Statesman said he was “calmly exposing the absurdities of TV interviewers”, while one Independent columnist said that “Mick Lynch has done more for workers in two days than Starmer has in two years”.
The Mick Lynch interviews: who fared best?
Kay Burley: ‘What will picketing involve?’
The attention started after a Sky News interview went viral on Tuesday. In an interview with anchor Kay Burley, Lynch calmly accused the anchor of asking questions “verging on nonsense”.
Burley had repeatedly asked what the RMT would do if agency workers were hired to replace striking staff and what “picketing” workplaces would involve, despite Lynch being interviewed in front of a picket line at the time.
On one occasion, exasperated with the questioning and repeating the same answer, Lynch turned to the group of picketing workers behind him and said: “You can see what picketing involves. I can’t believe this line of questioning.”
Agency rail workers will be stopped at picket lines and asked not to cross.
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) June 21, 2022
Richard Madeley: ‘Are you a Marxist?’
On Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, Richard Madeley opened his interview by asking Lynch “are you or are you, not a Marxist?” as “if you are a Marxist, then you’re into revolution and into bringing down capitalism”.
The union leader’s response was to say “Richard, you do come up with the most remarkable twaddle sometimes”, before reiterating he was a mainstream socialist, not a Marxist, and that the strike was an industrial dispute over pay and working conditions.
Alan Partridge here, who may not have read the Grundrisse pic.twitter.com/SmEcz63Lya
— John Harris (@johnharris1969) June 21, 2022
Piers Morgan: ‘It makes me laugh that you have The Hood as your profile pic’
While appearing on Piers Morgan’s TalkTV show last week, Morgan repeatedly asked why Lynch’s profile picture on Facebook was Thunderbirds antagonist The Hood, who Lynch bears a physical resemblance to.
The union leader’s response was to simply reiterate it was “a joke among me and my friends” about their physical likeness before later asking: “Don’t you want to talk about the issues, rather than a little vinyl puppet from the 1960s?”
The clip of Lynch’s bemused responses to Morgan’s two and a half minutes of constant questioning on the subject of Thunderbirds villains has now received nearly four million views.
"Do you think I look like the most evil person in the world, Piers?"
Piers Morgan challenges RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch over his Facebook profile picture showing Thunderbirds baddie The Hood.@piersmorgan | @TalkTV | #piersmorganuncensored pic.twitter.com/hXd2sSEkps
— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) June 16, 2022
Dan Walker: ‘Are you a Marxist who is trying to bring down the government?’
5 News presenter Dan Walker adopted a more measured tone in his interview but also asked Lynch: “Are you a Marxist, are you trying to bring down the government?”
Posting on Twitter, Walker criticised the approach of other interviewers, saying: “We live in the age of the jabby, confrontational interview and the RMT’s Mick Lynch has had a few of them.
“If you treat people with respect, you can still ask tough questions & get decent answers allowing your audience to make their own minds up.”
We live in the age of the jabby, confrontational interview & the RMTs, Mick Lynch, has had a few of them.
— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) June 22, 2022