For this week’s class, we had to analyse the content of the above interview to determine whether or not there is any bias on the interviewer’s part.

Is the interviewer maintaining a stance of ‘formal neutrality’ or can we see some form of bias?

I think that, for the most part, Paxman maintains a stance of formal neutrality. His questions simply ask for Howard’s comment on what is already out there. The only place where I feel his true opinions come through is when he uses the phrase ‘wouldn’t a reasonable person conclude

How are the questions being answered by the interviewee(regarding language being used, is it conventional)?

At the start of the interview, I feel that he comes across as slightly defensive. Right away, he veers off from answering the question onto a statement that none of this came from his campaign. On the other hand, he also starts off very well in that he chooses his words very carefully and seems well-rehearsed but not necessarily to the point that he seems disingenuous. He is experienced in public speaking.

Once Paxman begins laying into him, though, Howard’s composure begins to slip. His tone of voice shifts to a more intense tone and he struggles to maintain control of the interview.

Has the interviewee answered the specific question that has been asked?

Howard does answer most of the questions put to him but, when Paxman lures him into the trap regarding making false statements, he begins to deflect the questions and when Paxman repeats the question about threatening to overrule Derek Lewis, he continually reframes the question to say what he was not entitled to do and not what he actually did.

What approach is the interviewee using, if any, to avoid providing an answer to a specific question?

Howard reframes the question to be about what he was or was not entitled to do and not about what he did do as Paxman was asking.

Is the interviewer allowing this to happen (violation) or are they pushing for an answer to a question?

Paxman repeats the question about sixteen times with Howard refusing to answer. However, by refusing to answer the question directly, he has answered. It becomes obvious to the viewer that Howard did indeed threaten to overrule Lewis.

Can we see the use of language within the interview being influenced by the perceived social context of the ‘target audience’?

This interview was originally broadcast on BBCs Newsnight programme. The target audience for this show is well educated and aware of the political landscape. The language used is clear and, to an extent, formal.