Saturday, January 18, 2014

Yesterday's BBC News included an item about the Winter Olympics, which start in February. The Andrew Marr show, tomorrow, will include Marr's full interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. What we don't know is whether it was the BBC or the Russian authorities primarily behind the meeting, and whether any conditions needed to be met by the BBC before the interview was approved.

Anyone who takes an interest in journalism will know that some interviewers are more tenacious than others in their questioning. What would happen, for example, if an interviewer had concentrated on the fate of Vladislav Tornovoi and other Russians murdered on account of their sexual orientation? Truth is that Marr avoids asking his guests any such awkward questions.

In the excerpt on this webpage Marr tells viewers that Putin "very rarely gives interviews to foreign journalists." We see Mr Marr shake hands with Mr Putin as he says "Nice to see you again."

Andrew Marr has a reputation for giving his subjects an easy time, whilst other journalists like Jeremy Paxman, Andrew Neil and John Humphrys can make their victims' lives quite uncomfortable. George Entwistle found that out to his cost, which probably explains why the current BBC director general, Lord Hall, prefers to stick with the gentler interview style of Jeremy Vine.

Andrew Marr considers whether all the money, risk, and controversy about the Sochi Winter Olympics are really worth it. He says Sochi is "a huge project and a huge gamble, but already one Mr Putin thinks he is winning." With such tame scrutiny by the BBC, that is hardly surprising. Newsround has carried dozens of reports and promotions for this Winter Olympics, but has yet to even mention the dire situation faced by lesbian and gay Russians.

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