Cathy Newman, the car-crash interview correspondent for Channel 4 News, gave one of her most brilliant performances this week.
Newman, skilfully deploying her catchphrase ‘So What You’re Saying Is’, had Canadian Professor Jordan Peterson on the ropes with her trenchant analysis of his latest book.
Zoe Williams of The Guardian later noted how Peterson was forced to stress that he was qualified as a clinical psychologist. Ha! An ‘expert’, eh? Isn’t there universal loathing for intellectuals in the Alt Right ecosystem? That’s proof enough that Newman emerged triumphant from this debate.
How would Newman have dismantled the argument of other totems of the Patriarchy?
‘So, Dr Martin Luther King: In your book you describe how you had a dream. So, what you’re saying, as a Republican, is that we should close down hospitals on your say-so, just because you had some sleepy thoughts which you expect to be able to mansplain to me, as a woman. I know plenty of women AND MEN who never get time for rapid eye movement . . .’
‘So, Charles Dickens. Let me just quote something from your book. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. So which was it, Mr Dickens? This is a shambles, isn’t it? And why were all your ghosts men? Why wasn’t Christmas Present a woman? Isn’t it telling that you see no room for women in the Christmas Future?
‘What you’re saying is that women can’t become ghosts – our spirits don’t live on. Is that what you’re saying, Mr Dickens? Come on!’
‘So, Mr Gandhi. Let me just quote from your book. “The good man is the friend of all living things”, you’ve written. So you’re saying that I, as a woman, can only be a friend of dead things. I know plenty of women who have living friends . . . AND zombies. Are you saying I should just give up and stay at home and play with my Barbie doll, and make tea for the undead?’
Possibly Cathy’s greatest interview was with the Straw Man, whom a succession of impartial professional broadcasters have tried to pin down. He wasn’t able to deceive Cathy Newman, though.
‘So, Mr Straw Man. I’m looking at the press cuttings and you seem to represent a range of extreme Alt Right views.
‘James O’Brien on LBC said you’ve been suspiciously slow to denounce Brexit. My colleague Paul Mason on Channel 4 News said you had a clear plan to re-introduce slavery at the behest of Donald Trump with the tacit approval of the Kremlin. And respected cultural zeitgeist analyst David Baddiel said you were a bit like Hitler.
‘How do you answer that, Mr Straw Man? Well, let me answer it for you. So what you’re saying is that I, as a woman, will never be able to drive a car with the roof down and walk along the seashore barefoot. Because that’s effectively what you’re saying, isn’t it? Come on! Well, let me answer that for you. I know plenty of women – and men – who like to take their shoes off and get their feet wet.
‘So what exactly are you saying, Mr Straw Man? I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got time for. Thank you. I’m Cathy Newman.
‘Pardon. What’s that?
‘So what, you’re saying?’