It reminded me of how often the garrulous Mr Naughtie has had this effect on me, and got me wondering whether I'm alone in wondering why the BBC lets one of their top interviewers ask questions that are often longer (and less coherent) than the answers he elicits from his interviewees.
So I found it quite reassuring to discover from a quick Google search that you don't have to look far to find comments about his long-winded style of questioning. Nor did it take long to come across some fine exhibits (HERE), and the following specimens are reproduced in ascending order of length.
I haven't timed how quickly Mr Naughtie speaks. But if we assume that it's somewhere around the average conversational speed of 170-180 words per minute, it would have taken him more than a minute to get to the end of the longest of these (184 words).
Is this another example, I wonder, of the BBC's apparent preference for allocating more time to its own staff than to the people we'd rather be listening to - that I blogged about a few days ago (HERE)?
Q: What's very interesting here is that we're very quickly back into the arguments, which are quite familiar about the reasons for war. And let me suggest to you, Secretary of State, that the reason these arguments are still quite fresh in people's minds a few years on is because they realize this has been a campaign attended by mistakes. Of course, there were people thought it was a bad idea completely. But even those who said, well, maybe this is the way to deal with Saddam. Look at John Sawer's, who's political director now of the Foreign Commonwealth Office, his assessment in May 2003 just after the invasion about what the American forces were doing there: no leadership, no strategy, no coordination, no structure and inaccessible to ordinary Iraqis. Now that was the Pentagon in Iraq. That was a mistake (140 words).
Q: But you see, the problem that we've got is that we know about Guantanamo and we know that Mr. Gonzales who is now the Attorney General has said in one famous remark in a previous incarnation with the White House that he thought the Geneva Conventions were "quaint" and they didn't really deal with the situation we've got. And we know, talking about the American Administration, we know that 500 people have been for varying lengths of time in Guantanamo Bay without the trials and the protections that would normally be given under your jurisdiction and ours. And people say, well hold on, if this is a model war, if these are for high ideals, if this is for the spread of the liberal democracy of which you speak here, how can that be? You're breaking your own code of conduct? (141 words)
Q: To the Foreign Secretary in one second, but on the question of why we went to war, yes, it was said Saddam was a bad man who was a force for instability. No question about that. But the American people were told pretty straightforwardly we're in the business -- the American Administration -- of regime change. The British people were told something quite different and very distinctly different; that if it wasn't for the WMD than the whole game would be different. Now we know that those weapons didn't exist in the way that we were told they existed. And Mr. Blair tonight persistently -- that the argument in Britain was about regime change, and yet we now know don't we because of the arguments that went on and the leaks we've had from the discussions in Washington that Mr. Blair's party was regime change all along (147 words).
Q: But the question is not whether liberal democracy -- you talked about this in your lecture on the eve of this program -- is a good thing or a bad thing, as most people in this country, as in yours, think it is a desirable state. The question is how you go about bringing it. Now let me remind you and I'm sure you know these words from President Bush himself in the presidential debate just before he was elected October 2000. He said, if we're an arrogant nation, they will resent us -- speaking about the United States. Now the problem is that many people who try to look at this fair-mindedly, look for example at the question of extraordinary rendition, people taken to third countries where there may be practices that amount under international convention as to torture and they know that they go through our airspace. And the government said, well, really request every time -- a permission is requested every time this happens. Is a rendition flight only allowed through our airspace if the British Government has been informed? (184 words).
... and I bet no one's bothered to read all the way down to here!