How Andrew Marr introduces guests

Mark Doran on how Andrew Marr introduced his guests:

Reviewing the news, the Corbyn-supporting ‘Guardian’ columnist Owen Jones and the author and commentator Isabel Oakeshott — all of that coming up after the news, here read by [etc].

For, as you will have seen, there was no parity at all between the way Marr framed Jones (‘Corbyn-supporting Guardian columnist’) and the way he framed Oakeshott (‘author and commentator’). The difference between the two introductions — and the reason behind it — will take a little while to elucidate; let’s start with our ‘author and commentator’.

He books Isabel Oakeshott — who, you may be aware, has never appeared on this show before, regularly though she features on the Sunday Politics a couple of hours later. Why her? Because, 18 months ago, she went into print to tell the nation that behaviour which you and I would consider inappropriate at the very least is something of no real significance and can easily be brushed aside: Oakeshott can, therefore, be relied upon to talk down today’s breaking story as just some storm-in-a-teacup triviality that is being exploited by eggshell personalities and people who wish to harm the Conservatives. Obviously, though, this defensive tactic will not work properly if the audience knows that she herself is actually a rabid Tory — so Marr comes up with an introduction which, by presenting her as simply ‘author and commentator’, prevents her looking like the Conservative damage-limitation tool she really is.

And Jones? Well, you can see now why it was that Marr chose him: what other columnist could have been introduced with such obtrusive highlighting of both a pro-Corbyn stance and a Guardian contract? And by emphatically framing Jones not merely as the sort of stereotypical ‘Guardian leftist’ who would be bound to go overboard on ‘the whole feminist, sexual politics, womens’ rights thing’, but also as someone with a specific Labour Party allegiance that would undoubtedly see him ‘milking to death’ anything that could be used to damage the Tories, Marr had practically guaranteed that nothing at all that could inconvenience elite power would emerge during that discussion: before it even started, the audience was being immunised against it.