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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  December 27, 2017 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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as an independent presidential candidate in next year's election. his political rival alexei navalny, has been barred from standing the evacuation has begun of critically—ill syrian patients from eastern ghouta, a rebel—held suburb near damascus. on saturday, aid agencies appealed to president assad to authorise the evacuation of seven children with cancer. votes are being counted in liberia, where a presidential election run—off has been taking place between a former international football star, george weah, and the current vice president. both said they were confident they'd win. peru's former leader has asked peruvians to forgive him, two days after the current president pardoned him over corruption and human rights abuses. alberto fujimori said he had let people down when in power nearly two decades ago. now on bbc news hardtalk‘s review of 2017. thank you.
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you talk about frustration with government now, but your whole career basically sounds as though you have been banging your head against a brick wall. did you learn some lessons from that? of course, of course. what lessons did you draw? it seems like the only lesson you took was, you know what, after a while you betray your best friends in politics?
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no. i don't agree with that at all. i bet you know. i bet you know! how do you feel as president that you are going to go down in history as a president who presided over a loss of a large part of your territory? i understood that you wished to do this interview, and you wished to reply to questions that we, in the name of the bbc, are putting towards you. am i not right? yeah, cheers. hardtalk. to the next 20 years! well you got water and i've got wine?! that's terrible! our show has a name which gives you a very strong clue as to what you're going to get. and i do wonder sometimes
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whether calling the programme hardtalk has been a huge advantage, because it cuts through. and i think people know what our show is about. it has an extraordinarily clear and strong profile. but also, there are some people around the world who will be approached by their pr people and say, "oh, there is this bbc programme, hardtalk, on the phone and they would really like to talk to you." and ijust wonder whether calling it hardtalk is, for some, a red flag. it's the bbc doing what the bbc... shouldn't it be a red flag? shouldn't we also be calling it what it is? of course. but interestingly, if you look at the way in which, over 20 years... do you to rebrand? not at all. after 20 years? not at all. but if you look over 20 years at the degree to which now politicians want to manage everything
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about their public profile, and their spin doctors are multiplying, their entourage is expanding, and now they have the unmediated platform of social media, which donald trump has exploited more than any other politician, i am just going to be interested to see, over the next — let's hope — 20 years of hardtalk, whether we still get the same access to those in power. but to me, hardtalk is not harsh talk. it's asking tough questions. it's not a politically closed country then? because you have got people like the opposition leader, victoire ingabire, who is on trial because she... i wish i knew what you were... no, but i'm just putting it to you. let's talk about things that matter. this matters, doesn't it? the national treasurer of the opposition, united democratic force, says dissidents remain silent out of fear in rwanda. what is your response? my response is that maybe you should take all your time, or most of your time, asking every leader of this world on these programmes. well, i mean we do put these points and criticisms to leaders, other politicians, when we talk...
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the cynicism that comes along with it. i wasn't being cynical. i was giving you a chance to rebuff some of these allegations. i will tell you one thing. we have explained these so—called allegations. but, and i'm glad you're even putting it that way yourself, you are talking about all of the progress that rwandans are making in theirlives, and then you put in "but". nobody should really be, who submits themselves to doing hardtalk, should worry about hard questions, because it's also fair, because you get a chance... did tony blair worry? he never came on the programme. kofi annan never came on the programme. no, i agree with you. we lost a lot of interviews because it was a tough programme. not because of the name, but because of how the interviews were done. if you give somebody a tough question and you don't give them the opportunity to answer it, i think that's not fair play. and i think a lot of people watching may feel that sometimes. and that is why i defend calling it hardtalk, but ijust think that it ought to be fair in the sense
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that if you ask somebody something, they should have the chance to answer it. nobody is ever going to agree on what is fair. and you get constantly criticised for interrupting. but if you don't interrupt certain people, you're going to get a speech for 20 minutes. of course. this shouldn't be a freeride. have you had anybody walk out? i have. yes. and didn't come back? yes. my walkout was with a gentleman called max clifford, who was a pr guru... he is now injail. he walked out after about eight minutes, which i realise was quite a clever tactic, because if you walk out early in an interview, obviously in hardtalk, where we fill half an hour slot, you walk out very early, then there is no programme. you sayjade is happy, and i appreciate you have that long chats with her about all of this. but she is obviously a very vulnerable woman. and she's dying... i'll tell you what, let's just call it a day. you know, ijust don't like the tone of all this. i really don't need this. you are quoting interviews i did five years ago.
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i thought this was a general conversation about my business and what i do. no, it is. that's fine. good luck to you. if you come back, max... i haven't got the time or the inclination. you do what you want with it. i'm quite happy... i'm very comfortable with what i'm actually doing. look, if you let us continue, the whole interview is going to touch on many aspects of your business. it's not just. .. i'm sure it is. it was a walkout over, again a matter that to many people would have seemed quite insignificant, but he was just in a very bad mood and hejust didn't like the cut of myjib. he tossed off the microphone and off he went. he kicked the studio wall on the way out and a chunk of plaster fell off. so another satisfied client! you do feel slightly conscious that now we've got a gap to fill. you know what? all we did was put it in the christmas video, in the sort of upsum of the year. that was as good as we could do with it. but we couldn't use it as a programme. i do wonder though, and i'm just thinking now about the future of the show, whether again, whether we believe that the attention span of audiences
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around the world for news and current affairs still means that the full on half hour intense, thoroughgoing, compelling sort of inquisition... what other programme does it? we are about the only programme in the world that does it. why is that? why have other broadcasters given up on the testing longform interview? i think they have underestimated the public's appetite. i think the public is keen on accountability, much more now, keen on facts in a way they were not before. facts are in public focus. i think we are increasingly relevant. ok, but where will you go with it? you were saying your starting point was for the next 20 years. where i'm going with it is, i think about my own kids. you know, i've got kids who are late teens and early 20s, and they have grown up not really, frankly, settling down to watch news and current affairs television in the way that we did. so do you think it doesn't have a future? no, i think because... thank goodness, i still believe,
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from the feedback i get, anecdotal and the evidence we get in audience research, that there are enough people who value what we do, that we've got a very strong future. and i think tim is right, in the current political environment around the world, and all this discussion of fake news and alternative facts, and an attempt by so many people in power to manipulate information... it's an antidote. but you must have had people walk out on you? very few, actually. very few. one of the most memorable wasjames hewitt, diana's lover. yes, yeah. we got to a point in the interview where i said, "you've just written this tell all book, — did you not consider the feelings of her children, the princes?" and he went, took off the microphone, and said, "that's a disgusting question to ask. you're a cad!" i said, "i'm a cad?" i'm suddenly the bad person in this! he got up and he walked out. and unfortunately, again, as it was only eight or ten minutes
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in, we didn't have a programme to show. but no, surprisingly few. surprisingly few. i think a lot of people... i remember a deputy foreign minister in israel, he was a rabbi. he said he came on the programme and in 25 years of public life he had never had such a response to anything he'd done in public as to the hardtalk interview. tim, that's so true. and you've just planted in my head a thought about said barakat, about whom you have interviewed a lot of times. so have i. yes, yes. who you reduced to tears. but interestingly, the last time i spoke to him, and he has been the chief palestinian negotiator for a long time, he's been around that story from when i was a cub reporter following the oslo process in the early 1990s. said barakat, just a few months ago when he spoke to me, was so low, so depressed, so run dry by that whole process, which is frankly stuck, going nowhere, moribund, dead, in many many ways... i have never heard you this bleak,
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this negative, this despairing. is it all over for you? you know, if i answer you in any way i may cause more deaths. ijust want to keep a ray of hope. because i know at the end of the day violence will breed more violence. violence is not the answer. i know that the answer is for someone in the international community to bring to the security council resolution reiterating the two state solution within a specific time frame, within an international conference, saying the state of palestine to live side—by—side with the state of israel on 1967 lines. now, if people ask me, "how come you failed?" i could not deliver, that is the truth. now, do i leave? i'm thinking about it. i'm seriously thinking about it, stephen. i'm seriously thinking about it
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because there is much that i can't take from my own family, from my own neighbours. i look them in the eyes, i wasn't able to deliver. and that is the truth. an extraordinary omission, isn't it? and it comes back to that word we used earlier, which is raw. hardtalk can be raw. and because we have that extra time to really dig deep into somebody‘s psyche, there are times when they express emotion and dig deep into themselves in a way that you don't see anywhere else. sometimes we all interview celebrities, actors and musicians and so on, and i still think they should be subjected to some rigorous questioning. and i'm thinking most recently of burt reynolds, whom i interviewed. and he was charming. and he enjoyed it.
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but it was obviously tougher kind of questions than he would normally have on the celebrity circuit. and ijust said to him at the end, "you're approaching your 80th birthday", and so on, "are you happy? would you describe yourself as happy?" and he said, "i was until i started this interview!" i always find that people are more... celebrities often seem surprised that they enjoy it so much. i really like that. it's a whole different interview to what i'm used to. i mean, when you look back at some of the stuff that you did then, are you guilty of misogyny? i wrote those lyrics for that song. you can come straight... it was very much a tongue in cheek song, not misogynistic in any way. how do you explain it to your daughters? you have got teenage daughters now. um... well, there's a spirit of rock and roll that has, that is, to me, far and above... you know, misogyny or homophobia, or any of those things. there's just like this — primal sex and rock and roll arejust hand in hand.
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how would i explain it to my daughters? but don't you think it's... i mean, you make the point when you are writing this book that you are responsible for some of the stuff. isn't that spirit of rock and roll responsible in influencing people in the way that they see things? i think i give humans a lot more credit. if i write a song or a lyric, if it influences them in a bad way, which i rarely ever hear about... 99.9% of the times people come up to me and say, "your music changed my life" — it's always a positive thing. it's a sign of something really rather wonderful about some of these
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celebrities who live in a bubble, frankly, of minders and pr, but particularly the selling of the movie, where there is a conveyor belt of five—minute interview where they talk a little bit about the plot and their co—stars and say what a wonderful movie it is, and then they move on. whereas if they come on hardtalk, it's going to be nothing like that. and they have 25 minutes where the questions could be about their politics, they could be about decisions they made earlier in life that were very difficult at the time. it could be about a whole bunch of things. it certainly won't be a puff for their book, their movie, their latest perfume. and i think hats off to those who are prepared to do it. it's all set up, typically it's in the studio, and it's all set up in this confrontation. but sometimes, and often when you are out doing an on—location interview, when things go really wrong,
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suddenly a sort of comedy. can you think of one? i can think of one which was meant to be in the studio, where ilya ponomarev, the russian mp, the only member of the duma who had voted against the annexation of crimea, and we'd set it up. and every single thing technically went wrong. such that when he was doing the interview it started raining. and some guy put up an umbrella and you could see this hand come in from the side of the screen! i was like, "this is not really hardtalk! " and then they moved it under this awning, and then the awning collapsed on his head, with this water pouring out. and he was so good—natured. i was sort of giving him this hard time about russian politics. i mean, it wasjust... by the end of it it wasjust like, "thank you so much for coming on hardtalk! i can't quite believe we got there!" it's interesting you raise funny moments, because actually i think sometimes when you conduct a hardtalk interview, although it's hard, there are moments of humour. and actually i think it's a very good way of the interviewee disarming you, the interviewer. and i'm thinking in particular
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of archbishop desmond tutu. and i remember saying to him when i did a hardtalk with him, "well, you know, president robert mugabe of zimbabwe has described you as an evil little interfering bishop." and he looked at me and he said, "did he say that? did he really say that? !" he started laughing and laughing and laughing, chuckling, with his shoulders moving up and down. what did i do, of course? laugh my head off, too. on air! so sometimes there are a humorous moments on air. tutu is wonderful for that, wasn't he? he is. but that's a very good way of defusing actually a difficult question. and the same with burt reynolds. i remember saying to him, "have you used your good looks and your sex appeal to further your career?" nothing like buttering him up, of course! exactly. he did that nude photo spread. it was a very iconic image of you lying on your side with just your hand protecting your modesty. yeah.
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both my hands, by the way! which are not small. and i was... yes, it made me happy. laughter. how did you react? i laughed! wouldn't you ? and blushed. but you know we were talking about the future of hardtalk? and where it stands now in a world of social media, where the digital revolution means the media is so much more fragmented. i think now when you have a president like donald trump obviously tweeting, because he doesn't like the mainstream media, because he describes us, including the bbc, as dishonest. it's called the bbc. and i think he said, "well, that's another beauty", he said about the bbc! anyway, but i think it is interesting because now, you know, he communicates directly with the electorate through his tweets. and sometimes in the mainstream media, written as well as broadcasters, we're having to get our news from social media, from twitter, what the president of the united states says. in a way, do you think it's kind of the tail wagging the dog? i don't know.
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i have to say i think trump is a master of understanding the power of social media, and i think he has changed politics in that sense. i don't think democratic politics will ever be the same again. other people have watched the phenomenon, the fact he didn't play the game of spending vast amounts of money on tv advertising, but reached his public, unmediated, through his twitter feed and social media platform, and they have learned a lot from it. clearly we won't get trump, but we might get people around him. surely that's where we have to be part of the antidote to fake news? wouldn't it be great to get trump though? oh, my god! we'd scratch each other's eyes out! i was going to say, we'd all be fighting! i did actually do trump in 1998. yeah. yeah, yeah. on hardtalk. when he was sort of pretty unknown. what was he like? it wasn't a very good interview. it was hardly my finest hour. there was very little time for preparation. but there is one thing that stuck in my mind. you talk in your book about getting
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even, the importance of getting even. is revenge sweet? i believe strongly in getting even. if somebody has hurt you, if somebody has gone out of their way to hurt you, i think if you have the opportunity you should certainly go out of your way to do a number on them. i have had more criticism about that one statement in my book than any other statement. the clergy has called, the ministers, the priests, the rabbis, they have all said, what a terrible thing to say. that it's against our teachings. i believe in an eye for an eye. we were in a tiny little room and he wouldn't shake hands. he's a germaphobe. he is also worried about his hands and the size of his hands! we do need to be testing the people around trump. and we need to be reaching out to them and interviewing them as often as we possibly can. but ijust think we need to learn, too, that while we are fundamentally committed to the longform interview, and that is what we do, we need to make sure that the product, the content, which matters so much to all of us, is consumed by as many people as possible. and the truth is, i talked
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about my kids earlier, there is a change in the media landscape. we have to react to it. we have to make sure that hardtalk does have a profile. here is a thought for you all. when the lights are on, the studio is set and we say, "welcome to hardtalk", do you really feel you're being yourself, or is there an element of performance about it all? well, i don't do that to my husband every day! i don't know about you! you wouldn't have a husband very long. exactly! and sometimes people... you have heard of this response from people sometimes, which is, they assume it must be that way you think. and you say, "no, i'm challenging a person's position." if it wasn't us, it would be an act.
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and we don't go on hardtalk to act, we go on hardtalk because we actually care about the issues. we do care about the issues. true, but sometimes, depending on who the interviewee is, you take a position to challenge them. well you always take the opposite position, don't you? i was glad to say, i mean, i reflected on it a lot, because i've done the show consistently for the last 11 years, and i think to myself sometimes, "am i really a nasty person?" then i say to myself, "no, i'm not, what i am is curious and i love an argument." and i think your point is interesting. you can't go into that studio and pretend to be something you are not, not consistently. that would really get you down after a while. i do love a good argument. i love a challenge. and i am very curious. and i love to talk to people and find out what makes them tick. i'm an angry old man and hardtalk helped me get there! laughter.
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now you are embittered as well! since you stopped doing it you look ten years younger! you laugh a lot longer. i've been doing hardtalk for the same length as you, but not obviously as often. i would say that i am — part of me is the person you see on hardtalk. i like rigorous argument, engaging in considered argument, intellectualjousting. i think that's one aspect with some of the interviews we do. i think holding people to account, as somebody who was born in africa, where over the years i have seen that the media isn't as rigorous as it should be in many african countries, i feel that i am fulfilling a kind of... something that is important for me is being a voice for people, in being able to put those questions. so i would say yes, the person you see, it is the same. although when i do meet people, they say sometimes, "hello, zeinab badawi, no hardtalk, please!" they might say at the end of it, "actually, you are very, very nice." i say, "yes, but of course." that's the classic. "oh, you're much nicer!" i get that all the time.
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and they are, they are. you know what, everybody. as i say on the show, we have run out of time. but we can't end this conversation without a classic hardtalk handshake. oh, the handshake! and long may hardtalk continue. yes. good luck. that's a tight grip you have got! laughter. hello there. some of us have already seen snow already this festive season. for a few more, we're starting wednesday on a wintry note. we have an area of low pressure. this cloud drifting northwards in the cold air. while the system is delivering rain, mixed in with that, sleet and snow drifting across southern and south—eastern areas to start the day. further north and west, especially, northern england, northern ireland, scotland, potential for icy stretches with clear skies through the night. through the day, scotland, northern ireland, western areas of england and wales, that will have the best of the sunshine. towards the south and east,
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struggling to improve through the day. some areas improving. but the london area will stay pretty cloudy. across kent, up into east anglia, here, outbreaks of rain sleet and snow mixed in right through the afternoon, coupled with a strong northerly wind. that combination could actually cause a little bit of disruption. but across northern england, half of scotland, a fine and crisp and cold sunny afternoon. some wintry showers filtering down into northern scotland. showers filtering into northern ireland. three degrees in belfast. a scattering of showers in wales. the west midlands and parts of the south—west as well. sunny spells in between. temperatures, four degrees in plymouth. a cold and fairly breezy date wherever you are. a cold and fairly breezy day wherever you are. wednesday night, staying cold. temperatures widely dipping below freezing. again, that will lead to some icy stretches. still one or two showers in northern fringes.
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temperatures close to freezing, perhaps below in some spots. thursday, this bump in the isobars, the ridge of high pressure, promising a decent day for many. yes, a cold and frosty start. but we will see some good spells of sunshine. still some wintry showers in the north. then a change to the south—west. clouding over, with outbreaks of rain temporarily. snow on the leading edge, especially on the high ground. cold at this stage, six degrees at best. a breezy day. look at the south—west. temperatures just beginning to climb. 10 degrees in plymouth. taking that that trend with us as we go to the weekend. temperatures climbing into double digits in places. but there'll be a lot of cloud, it'll often be windy,
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and there will be outbreaks of rain at times. this is bbc world news. my name's mike embley. our top stories: the us slaps sanctions on two men it claims are "key leaders" of north korea's ballistic missile programme. counting is under way in the run—off presidential election in liberia. brazil retaliates after venezuela boots out its envoy over claims counting is under way in a runoff election to choose the next president of liberia. it is a straight fight between the current vice president joseph boakai, and world renowned footballer george weah. umaru fofana reports from the capital, monrovia.
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