Thursday, March 30, 2006

Blair the Brave

I regularly read a forum called Italians, hosted by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. One of the themes that occupy the contributors (who often live abroad) is the cuddliness of interviews with Italian politicians. Several have written in to say how pleasantly shocked they were when they first witnessed a Jeremy Paxman-style mauling. This contrasts very much with what they are used to at home.

One recent post complained about Berlusconi stomping off a TV interview in reply to an only moderately awkward question and compared it to the practice where he lives now (he doesn't say, but it's fairly clearly the UK). In reply, the journalist Beppe Servignini, who has vast experience of both the UK and US, said this:

Most modern Heads of State are not used to aggressive questioning by journalists, at least without the portective shield of the press conference (Blair, to whom you may be referring, is an exception).
This occurred to me reading a report from Blair's tour of Malaysia, where, admittedly, it was hardly an interrogation. But I've always admired his willingness to face a hostile audience. In fact, he seems to get a buzz from it.

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