ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly has criticised the way politicians have regained “control” of TV interviews – but said they often underestimate her.
She also addressed the trend of reporting on “Twitter storms” and said it is “scandalous” young journalists are put under so much pressure in today’s 24/7 news cycle.
Kelly, who has hosted her own weekday morning show on ITV since 2010, said she missed the days when she worked on ITV’s breakfast show TV-am in the 1980s and 1990s when a Secretary of State and their shadow cabinet equivalent would appear on TV at the same time to be interviewed together.
Speaking to Daily Mirror editor-in-chief Alison Phillips for a Women in Journalism event held at ITN on Thursday, Kelly said: “I think it’s appalling that they don’t do that now. I don’t know when that switch was flicked that they don’t do it because the viewers, the people, the real people that matter, need to see this.
“I hate that aspect of it, that the control has gone back to them, that Boris Johnson can hide in a fridge… that’s not right.”
However Kelly said politicians “sort of put their guard down” with her because they underestimate her, which she said was “great”. Asked if it made her “cross”, she said: “No, it doesn’t. I love it.”
Kelly went on: “I just think it’s wonderful and I think you get so much more. I know that some news organisations in particular like this sort of gladiatorial confrontational style and that tends to be more about them than anything.
“I just think let them talk,” she added, because then they might slip up and say something they did not mean to “because they’ve forgotten all the training that they’ve had because they’re relaxed”.
One thing that did make Kelly “cross”, however, was watching US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri “not answering any questions” about her relationship with Boris Johnson on Good Morning Britain.
Kelly went viral in 2019 after a live link-up with GMB hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, telling them: “That was crazy wasn’t it? What’s the point, coming on and not answering any questions?”
She then said directly to Arcuri: “It just doesn’t make any sense. What’s the point in you coming on and not saying anything?… You didn’t answer any of the questions that were put to you, and I just don’t see the point of you coming on to be honest.”
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) November 18, 2019
Kelly told the Women in Journalism event why she got so “angry”: “Obviously Piers and Susanna are brilliant, they were asking all the right questions, and she was just not [answering] and I just got so cross with that because… my mum’s sitting at home, she wants to know what’s going on here. Who do you think you are sitting there not telling us? That’s outrageous.”
Kelly, who started her career as a reporter on the East Kilbride News, also railed against the trend of news publishers writing up stories based on a small number of tweets from “some numpty somewhere”.
She slammed this practice of writing up something as a “Twitter storm” after “two people tweet a lot of nonsense with zero followers” with no-one getting a right of reply.
She said this was a “fundamentally important” issue and that “things have changed so dramatically” since her start in local news when every fact had to be sourced properly.
“I’m not talking about myself, but generally… not just people in the public eye, but everybody,” she said. “Nobody ever gets a right to reply and that’s very, very dangerous. It really is.”
She added: “I’m not talking about silly trivial things like you’re wearing the wrong shoes. That doesn’t matter at all. It’s enormous things that are big and we’re giving as journalists and responsible people I would like to think, we’re giving these keyboard warriors power – huge power. Even if it’s a daft wee story because it gets legs and then it runs and runs and runs.
“I think that’s really disheartening to be honest… we have to get back to the fact that’s really not a story, it’s really not, and I think it’s really unfair and of course I understand the pressures of a 24-hour newspaper… but it’s not fair and it’s not fair on the journalists as well because that’s got to eat away at you, it must do.”
Kelly went on: “I just don’t get it and I think we’ve got to draw away from that a little bit more. And it’s not the fault of the young kids that are writing the stuff. It’s not, it’s the fault of the people above them and above them… I think it’s really dangerous.”
Picture: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
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