Jeremy Paxman is reportedly in trouble with the European Commission after a heated Newsnight debate between their spokesperson Amadeu Altafaj Tardio and guest journalist Peter Oborne spiralled out of control.
In a letter said to have been sent to BBC Director General Mark Thompson, Paxman was accused of losing control of the show by allowing Oborne to repeatedly call Tardio “that idiot in Brussels”.
The European Commission is now demanding an unqualified apology, according to The Guardian. And it’s not the first time the bullish Paxman has found himself in hot water…
The robust interviewing style that has made the broadcaster – and Newsnight – so popular has produced riveting but controversial television.
In 1997, in the days before Paxman felt inclined to apologise, he famously asked former Home Secretary Michael Howard the same question 12 times during a Newsnight interview. He was later reported to joke that he couldn’t think of anything to ask next.
In 2002, Paxman apologised publicly for the first time after asking Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy “one question too many” about his drinking. Robin Cook was so irritated by the exchange that he grumbled about it in the House of Commons the following day.
Then in 2005, Paxman enraged Labour health secretary Dr John Reid by calling him an “attack dog”, which Reid took as a slur on his Glaswegian accent. The interview briefly went off the rails as Dr Reid demanded that the intractable Paxman stop insulting people.
There have also been some awkward slips of the tongue, such as an embarrassing reworking of the word “cut” that made the headlines in February this year.
You’d think he’d have remembered his gaffe during the Newsnight Election special in 2010. In a memorable moment of live TV, he introduced the band XX by saying, “It’s not just because we seem to have made such a b******s of the simple act of putting an X on a piece of paper.”