I’m not a sycophant, says Randall

Jeff Randall, former Business Editor of the BBC (and a very good one he was too) is offended by our report. He thinks that members of the panel have no sense of humour and failed to spot his sophisticated use of irony and sarcasm.

During the interview, broadcast on Five Live on December 3 2006, Mr Randall, now the Daily Telegraph’s editor-at-large, asked Mr Murdoch a question about the future of new technology, such as high-definition television.

Mr Murdoch replied with a list of Sky’s achievements – prompting Mr Randall to congratulate him sarcastically on giving a great sales pitch for Sky and a free advert on the BBC.

We commented that “the interview with James Murdoch (December 3 2006) also appeared sycophantic when the presenter congratulated Mr Murdoch’s pronouncements about the future of his company as the best sales pitch he had heard.”

The Guardian reports Jeff’s astonishment that his comment had been taken seriously.

“That was a sarcastic comment. I can’t believe the listeners would have failed to spot it,” he hold MediaGuardian.co.uk.

“I was having a pop at an interviewee who failed to answer the question,” Mr Randall said.

Hmmm… I’m tempted to borrow Simon Hoggart’s crack about Gordon Brown and say that Jeff Randall — who is a great ornament to his profession but approaches it much as sportswriters approach Premiership football — does irony the way Alex Ferguson does self-doubt.

Thanks to Bill Thompson for spotting the story.