25 OCTOBER 1963, Page 11

Network and Trident

Despite the fact that—or perhaps because—I do not often watch television, I found myself applauding The Time's fourth leader on television interviewing, and was unconvinced by Mr. Derek Parker's claim in a letter to the editor that it was the job of the interviewer to put those rascally politicians on the spot. Traditionally journalists interviewing statesmen have submitted to them their account of .the interview so that they can pass it as accurate, but with a 'live' TV broad- cast the interviewee has no such safeguard, and it is not surprising tb it he should sometimes be unforthcoming. Nothing is easier than to ask active politicians questions which cannot be answered at all ('Have you stopped beating your wife?'), and they must be expected to dodge such questions. If the interviewer then resorts to im- pertinence or takes advantage of his very strong position, he is no longer doing a job of serious political journalism, but providing a gladiatorial form of entertainment for viewers. Fair enough. but then he must not cry 'Shame!' when Ministers and MPs refuse to submit themselves to his net and trident.