Ian Hislop, Private Eye, on satire and censorship speaking at Impact 2018

in my 30 years or so as a magazine
editor I got sued for libel just the once just the once and it was one of the
most devastating things that ever happened but that’s another story
our final keynote of the day would probably have it they’re getting sued
just the once it’s probably a bit of a poor show and what I really really
should have tried harder if I wanted to be a proper journalist he is after all
reputedly the most sued man in Britain he has been the editor of the great
private eye for over three decades and one of the team hosts on have I Got News
for you for nearly as long he’s an author he’s an author he’s a documentary
maker he’s a playwright and has even been the subject of his own spitting
image puppet a program for which he was one of the original writers please
welcome the man of whom Piers Morgan said my intention is all times to
severely embarrass and humiliate him and lower his standing in the public eye
that’s the language he understands best the bane of Robert Maxwell jonathan
Aitken neil and christine hamilton Mohammed al-fayed and yes Boris Johnson
he could not be more welcome to our stage ladies and gentlemen please
welcome the wonderful Ian Hislop thank you very much indeed I’m often
asked about my own libel record which despite what you may have implied is
that’s extremely good I fought 40 cases and won one we lost
the costs on that who was that – who was that – now that was – an accountant for
shame and it cost a hundred thousand pounds I want to start with ya I want to
start with the depressing news of the day and that’s Piers Morgan michw the
following – his mirror reach readership and I promise that after we’ve covered
this we’re not gonna go back to Morgan no less he said he said I quote he wrote
to his entire readership and said we got a sneaking suspicion that Ian’s the
gnome his lob is not quite the squeaky clean saint-like choirboy he fends to be
have you got any photographs rights rights Morgan Ian might prefer not to
reach a wider audience I’m prepared to come to individual arrangements to pay
for last-minute dynamite now there’s no smoke without fire
Ian yes so what did he know that we don’t know and what was it like being
investigated by Morgan question 1 what does Piers Morgan know that everyone
else doesn’t nothing on any subject at any time piers was incredibly annoyed
with me and devoted vast amounts of the resources of the Daily Mirror to
investigating me and this was because private I had run a story saying piers
was using his own paper to tip shares which he was buying which he was which
you or I might think makes him a bit of a crook luckily this wasn’t proved anyway piers got very very cross and he
sent a huge number of people down to the village in Kent where I lived insisting
Hearst and he was very very thorough and not only did a number of my neighbors
say there are a lot of journalists around I had
phone call from my vicar who said I’ve just had a call from the Daily Mirror
and I said I’m terribly sorry and he said no no um they wanted to know
whether you’d confessed anything juicy and being my vicar he he said well
firstly I had to explain to the mirror that in the Church of England we don’t
have confession that was the important point and secondly he didn’t have
anything to offer understood but this continued for a very long time
until one of the reporters that piers had put just sitting in the drive so he
took photos of me every morning doing the school run because I do the school
run I am marvelous man I was for about a
week and then this guy was just hanging out there and one of my neighbors is a
retired policeman who didn’t know who this bloke was and went up to him
smashed on his window and said are you a fucking pedo with a which point the
mirror retreated so in the end it was actually I found it was very good to be
on the other side of the tabloids just just to see what would happen and how
are things between you now they’re fine yeah no we’re great friends now I was
thrilled to see him interviewing President Trump you know one of those
situations where you think now who do I dislike the most
now we’re gonna get now we’re gonna now we’re gonna get a bunch of that and
right away now when I spoke we had a briefing call a couple of weeks ago and
I think on the very day that we spoke I think Trump had called for the use of
guns in classrooms the idea of teachers packing heat and whereas the rest of the
world and I’m sure most people in this room maybe not it’s all about I suppose
somewhere in a parallel universe in your offices in Soho the Private Eye offices
I just imagined you all high-fiving each other yeah okay this is comedy I can
imagine you hi-5 doing this thing yeah we do not imagine imagine you thinking
comedy gold now this office talk to me about this office we’re kind
of bad news is is good news give us give us a flavor of how stories are chosen
and how they make their way to the page do you mean about Trump or just about
generally generally well the problem with Trump is you have to find the
things that he doesn’t find funny I mean this is the job for satirist and the
American searchers have got very good at it if you say you’re ridiculous
overblown fat blonde groper you know his core vote loves that you
know that’s why they voted for him said that stuff won’t do you have to find
stuff that hurts I mean and again lost people found this you say to Trump that
you were always a flop at business you’ve got a lot of money from your dad
you’ve invested it badly you’re the only man in history who lost money running a
casino I’m the average Italian immigrant did that for 30 years
Trump failed that’s the stuff he finds less amusing yeah and that brilliant
Michael Wolfe book was full of suggestions that the attributes that he
claims about himself aren’t actually true yeah I mean he’s very successful
with women except the ones who know him it’s it’s not only Trump who said I mean
that you’ve got a slightly wider problem in that you know in the world of sort of
Trump and Boris and Faraj and Andrey smog arguably they don’t actually fear
laughter the comedy is their thing that’s what they do either where does
that leave somebody like you and also I mean do you fear feeding their ego I
mean this latest copy just whip it out here yeah this latest copy of Private
Eye has got for those who can’t see it so you should have it on the screen but
it’s a it’s Max Mosley’s racist past revealed and on the left hand side we’ve
got channel 4 is Kathy Newman saying this must be very painful for you too
which max mostly replies yes please don’t stop knowing a little bit about
máximos past you’ll you’ll get the gag there that’s the bottom is out oh the
eyes says Spanx for the memory yeah yeah so what there’s a real problem here for
in that we’re kind of moving into a world that’s beyond satire surely well I
mean the good thing about Max is is like a lot of people in England he knows that
you have to pretend to find it funny that’s one of the rules of public life
yeah no matter what people say you grit your teeth and you say oh yes that’s
very funny I’ve got a sense of humor oh yes
and Mosley said I thought the private eye cover was very funny which is great
because I shall use that in court if he ever sees me any suggestion he’s been
caused hurt or damaged which apart from being what he likes sorry it is pathetic
but I just can’t resist it he has now made it very difficult for him to engage
in further legal action because he said what she claims is an incredibly
damaging episode in his past which should be forgotten and the data should
be removed he’s now said I find it funny which is
terrific and it is funny and that is why we go on talking about it and again you
say is there a problem with savory smog or with Boris again the things are at
what point does it become damaging to them I mean you know Rhys marks saying
he’s stuck in the 19th century and he’s got a lot of views that people find out
of date isn’t particularly damaging to say he runs a hedge fund which has made
a huge amount of money out of Russia and perhaps he could give some of it back I
don’t think he’ll find that very funny in the coming weeks and he’s not so
ancient he doesn’t know how to manipulate the the current markets I
mean there are ways of getting underneath people and the thing about
privatize the thing we do is we do jokes and journalism and a sort of mixture of
the two so you tell people what they don’t know and then you make jokes about
it let’s talk a little bit more about that Private Eye office then where I
also originally the idea of how a story actually makes its way to the page so
for example this afternoon most of you will know that Rex Tillerson has been
sacked yeah the Secretary of State so how does
a sort of fact like that get turned over by you or you by a
journalist about your freelance writers and end up on the page
yeah that’s about the process of actually filtering the real world into
the pages of private eye well I mean again you don’t have to go very far with
breaks to listen you know he was put in there because he’d done deals with the
Russians in the oil business yet last night he made a statement that wasn’t
terribly Pro PTIN this morning he’s gone were I the special investigator I would
put two and two together and think and make a four fairly quickly so in terms
of what does that mean I think it doesn’t take much to guess what Trump
means by that in terms of investigative stories that’s slightly harder and I’m
it’s slightly more difficult those stories and Paul foot was our
greatest and best journalist it was a fabulous he was thirty years one of the
founders of private eye and he was always asked what’s the secret of
investigative journalism and Paul said people ring me up and they tell me
things that’s it and in the sense I mean he was
under selling his own talents but that is true and privatized essentially a
club and it depends on people in specific industries for example the ones
many of you are in engaging with us and saying if something’s going wrong or you
think something’s bent or something isn’t right just letting us know and
that is how nearly every section of the eye works you know the the hospital
round up is entirely one pissed-off Hospital doctor and all his mates the
bit in the energy industry is just full of people from the energy industry who
are not very happy about it the the stuff about public transport guess what
it’s then the reason we tend to get our stories right is because we’re told them
by people in the middle of them I’m the skill is filtering out the
grudge the malice the hatred some of it and then leaving the story in there but
essentially we’ve always functioned by getting people’s trust saying you know
we we won’t turn it over we will give you the story as done and running it and
in the end that’s what works for us I suppose one of the sort of started
this conversation about this idea or if you know the amount of times we have all
haven’t been sued and back in the day that was kind of the biggest thing to
fear I think you know whatever your whatever your legal budgets might have
been in order to defend yourself but that was the biggest problem that you
could have yeah I suspect this is a bigger problem now and that this is this
hold the rise of people taking offense yeah which is in its way somewhat even
more dangerous because the idea of somebody taking offense what you’ve
written or what you’ve said increasingly serious implications what’s your view on
this world that we live in where people seem to be ever increasingly prone to
say I find that offensive and I think you should stop yes I mean I find it
increasingly worrying because if in not down not only shuts down Joe
but it shuts down debate and I don’t mean in that in the sense of you know
the pub bosses well I I’m not gonna be PC but you know there are a lot of them
coming over here that isn’t what I mean it is just the sense that people are
keen to identify the truth with whatever they happen to feel at the moment and
they take offense not only on their behalf but on behalf of other people
half of whom don’t feel offense I mean literally my favorite story about the
eye is I ran a cartoon and it was called the bipolar duke of york and when he was
up he was up and when he was down off he was down
anyway I received a number of letters from people who were very offended by
this and I got a brilliant letter from man who said I suffer from a bipolar
condition and when I saw your cartoon I was absolutely disgusted I saw it again
couple of days later I thought it’s really funny and that’s a real letter from an eye
reader and that’s what I have to trust but people are sufficiently robust that
they can take a joke good you know a lot of humor is essentially just sort of
political or literary criticism done with a joke and people should be able to
take that but we’ve had a wave at Private Eye say over the last four years
particularly people who’ve come into politics recently and they’re suddenly
absolutely appalled at the idea that anyone disagrees with them it started
really with the big leave campaign and a number of sort of middle aged people got
very energized by taking back control and if you said well I don’t want you to
they were furious so our letters column was full of people
saying why do you go on and on and on and I became you know outed as a you
know fairly obvious Ramona and I had to make the point that you know if you lose
the general election you don’t just say oh yeah you’re right that’s it for five
years I’ll shut up now I have no further views that’s not how democracy works and
again we had it with the Scots Nats absolutely furious a lot of people had
found one cause independence for Scotland if you disagreed with that why
can you just shut up no and then and then you know it was a we had the
korbinites and this is the youngsters who are very very keen on free speech
I’m providing you agree with them um you know to quote Voltaire or to recruit
Voltaire you know I respect your right to disagree with me except you’re no
platformed there is a problem there in saying you may not like the Daily Mail
but that doesn’t mean you can close it down I’m don’t buy it if you don’t like
it argue against what it says but the idea that anybody who you perceive to be
disagreeing with you and therefore you are right must be stopped
that I find worrying and it’s not a sort of who the snowflakes aren’t they
pathetic it’s just a it seems to be a under estimating young people are
perfect capable of Arc and if you say well you know perhaps
Jeremy Corbyn shouldn’t have appeared on Russia today
it wasn’t an open secret that the Kremlin financed it and perhaps he
should have been more careful how dare you you are Paul Dacre you know it’s not enough really
it must be possible to make these points and to argue with people so no I do I do
genuinely get a bit worried by this attempt to turn everything into a black
and white battle and it does bleed out into into a wider debate so I think we
have to be careful about that I think you have to be able to be reasonably
robust I think it kind of leads into I mean you were talking about the people
that sort of getting in touch with you directly you were talking about the
bipolar yeah guy who wrote to you about the bipolar story this is obviously a
reader and I’m assuming that most of your contact with readers or either
people saying yeah good on you in or how dare you yes most people who are in this
room are obviously working while other brands but very closely with like vast
consumer intelligence and consumer insights departments I’m guessing I’m
guessing that you don’t have one of those do you have you can have you ever
conducted air you we are really professional magazine how many how many
do you have and how do they work okay we don’t have you know I didn’t think so
how do you know then in that case obvious stuff of what your readers like
and what they don’t like but more importantly when it’s time to change
something yeah um well we have no scientific basis for that it’s entirely
instinct obviously I get a lot of feedback from the readers I mean again
it is a sort of Club and there are you know they’re fairly rude about things
they don’t like they’re fairly brood about things too and well I mean see if
I can give you this was one readers reaction after our coverage
of the late Princess Diana number of our readers didn’t like the coverage didn’t
think it was sufficiently grief-stricken or respectful and someone’s a dear sir
or shitbag could you delete as you are what creeps out covered in green slime
through been beneath large flat stones you offend the nostrils you are beneath
contempt BW Clough Li rev that’s our readers I
wasn’t I know we need to know about them how much do you want to know more about
them no now I have a I have a sort of ideal version in my head and that’s fine
I mean they’re well-read well-informed incredibly astute delightful balanced
people with a sense of humor mm-hmm that’s our readers thank you know more
about your advertisers than your readers yeah well they’re rather fewer of them
right they’re about three as far as I know we’ve got Raja suits which are very
very loyal advertiser we have a slight problem with advertising isn’t in that
it’s not terribly well coordinated the editorial and the advertising so it does
results in situations where on the left hand page there’s a lovely full-page ad
for virgin and on the right hand page there’s a picture of balloon and Richard
Branson saying look at the prick there which again tends to mean the
advertising is canceled is Jane and gardius still in the room it was a long
time ago we’re very response I mean we would certainly not do now say have a
whole page advertising lingua phone on the right and then on the left to think
saying lingua phone are a bunch of crooks
and you don’t get for your money we wouldn’t do that
that was the old days yeah last week new Private Eye New Britain no so there is a
problem there you again advertisers would have to be robust put out on the
rape card what what makes you readers cancel their subscriptions because they
do don’t they um they do why do they walk away from you usually they’re
offended by as I say some new political insight that they haven’t shared they
are offended on behalf of other people again they they find that very very
annoying at the moment they’re there they don’t like cartoons of fat people
they think that’s fat shaming even if their cartoons about obesity so they’re
not working on that what else aren’t they keen on we get a lot of you’re not
gonna believe this in Bradley there’s a lot of trans versus turf wars going on
at the moment and one or other side is usually finding us guilty of
sympathizing with the other side I’m sure you follow this the transgender
versus trans exclusion radical feminists oh come on
this is maintance dream stuff yeah a lot of that a lot of that going on truth of
it is those actually not that many people do walk away you’re kind of
towards the top of the tree in your circulation aren’t you well I’m we are
days we are touch everything having a very good circulation period and that
may be because as our readers say there’s nothing else to read in their
complimentary mode and it may be just because we still believe in print and
that’s one of the the few marketing insights I have in the private I think
has largely survived by believing that people will buy a magazine and not
offering it digitally which we don’t again I didn’t I didn’t go as far as the
French magazine the canal Shinae which literally has a website
that says go and buy a magazine which is brilliant I’m not quite that brave but
that’s more or less what you get from our website and a belief that journalism
and cartooning in particular these are skills that work best in print and that
you should pay for them and it’s not very much you know where to quit now
which is almost visible in terms of employing 50 quite brilliant people to
give you an insight into the way your life is run why is that not worth 2 quid
I mean it’s I mean I used to occasionally address universities or
schools and lots and lots of young people would say oh I’d like a job in
film or in publishing and I’d say well you can’t have it because you’ve stolen
everything you wanted everything for free you’ve stolen it and the job is all
gone tough shit we’re hanging on to them and you can go whistle which is not what
I believe but it was meant to provoke and I just I think there was a terrible
decade or two of lack of confidence of people saying well why shouldn’t you pay
people to do jobs well and a lot of middle aged people a lot of middle aged
men got very very scared and thought digital that’s it we must plow vast
amounts of money into this future in which there was no revenue there was no
advertising and people wouldn’t pay which again I’m not particularly good at
economics but I thought given those two factors you might lose money somebody
has actually asked on on this thing that we’ve that streaming will private I ever
go digital only following nme at all a towel oh well yes I mean as as the hip
young gunslingers that we’ve always been I mean what you’re talking about sort of
the circulation the revenues coming in you know in the paper these days one
would assume that a hefty slab of fat is going towards the expensive part of your
paper which one assumes is the investigative reporting yeah that you
conduct I mean you’ve broken a raft of cracking
stories on taxes odin’s financial misconduct most of
these stories or most of the ones that are sort of front of mind they’re
actually commercial stories it used to be back in the day where the public’s
blood would boil over for a political scandal that seems to be less and less
now it seems to have become an entertainment show the whole world of
politics but from a commercial point of view it’s the corporate and financial
world beyond redemption what can they do to win back trust or is the game up
before them the brands for brands well again I would I would query the first
bit of your question because I think what we established was that in the end
the staple of what were meant to be political stories were just about
affairs and were just about people aren’t faithful to their wives which
again became less shocking as the century wore on and what I think we
discovered was that the interface between government and commerce
essentially was where all our best scandals would be from PFI to tax to the
works it’s the fact that the public is paying always for the risks which
supposedly private enterprises taking and that was the area but in particular
poor foot and Richard Brooks started writing about and from being a you know
being the bonnet Richard Brooks used to work for the revenue and we lured him in
to the dark side he was quite a senior civil servant extraordinary and we
decided that he should become a journalist Regina was shocking he had to
apologize to his family and generally but he he has proved absolutely
extraordinary in terms of identifying where that that failure lies and I mean
it is absolutely extraordinary PFI itself is one of the great scandals this
idea that you outsource everything and we’re beginning to see bits of it fall
I mean Karelian I mean with the idea that you outsource every single function
down to the point where a cleaner was having three separate companies dealing
with paying her thirty five quid a week one of which along the way was based in
the Cayman Islands this is madness and that sort of I think
grotesque you know it’s it’s it’s capitalism with its worst face on that
we have either ignored or just come to accept to standard and I think that will
stop I’m that is you know part of the reason a younger generation believes mr.
Corbin is saintly is because he occasionally says is that a very good
way to run public governments which it clearly isn’t so I mean your point about
money we do obsess I mean I think there’s a great deal more of the paper
is about money now than about sex I didn’t exchange once with the French
with Lacan our I went and worked there and they had an incredibly sort of cool
editor called airy come to us and he said to me you
English you write about sex the whole time do you ever have any so I said yes
we did thank you very much but it did bring a bell even at that point and I
one of the great things that can our does is Bunny brilliantly his money yeah
I mean the sort of reporting that you’re talking about is obviously based on hard
data and hard facts yes nine times out of ten
everyone’s livelihood on this room is based on data and facts and and
extrapolating insight from that but we’re sort of living in a world now
where that sort of currency see mister some less important to know in our post
factual post data world where nobody seems to really care about facts and
truth what’s your what’s your view on where we’ve ended up and are we going to
be able to pull it back um yes I mean you know I’m basically optimistic and
that I think a lot of these things recycle but we are now I think in an era
where you know Boris Johnson he made a speech saying you know we’ve got our
exports with career at 25 percent I’m they are they’re not point eight so
everyone says to him they’re not Boris they’re not point eight that’s bollocks
that’s bollocks by a massive margin can you just get something right in one of
your speeches eight days later goes on the radio says
it again he literally doesn’t care whether it’s true or not I’m just like
the bus you know and we turned it into a kids song you know the lies on the bus
come round and round and they they just do and that is one of the problems with
an intellectual discourse which says if I feel this is true it is and that seems
to me just bonkers and post rational and it’s in an area where you could say well
politicians have lied we don’t trust them anymore people you know in
marketing lie they tell us things about their products which aren’t true they
tell us these things so therefore we don’t believe anything and that’s a
dangerous point and you know I’m coming from private I wear it constantly saying
don’t trust that or that what I hope we’re doing is attempting to target it
and doing it with a not with a a merely emotional appeal because I do think that
is dangerous it’s literally people’s you say to
someone I don’t know in a row about statistics you know they they saying
well I want 50% representation of black people on television and someone says
well the actual figures for the number of people who are black in this country
will be M er about 10% so is that totally right
racist time for you to go home it’s not it’s just attempting not to do it all
through emotion or feeling but attempting to do it through what you all
do which is attempting to find out what the truth is you’ve spoken before about
this idea of sort of targeted Satar the idea of pointing out what’s bad and
leaking what’s good well alone I think everyone knows find a way you sort of
stand on pointing at what’s bad somebody was asking me earlier what does what is
he and his lot what’s he got to be optimistic about what do you what does
sheer you I don’t mean in some personal but in in the world that we’re living in
what what are you optimistic about what would you think actually I have nothing
cynical or funny to say about that because I think it’s true and honest and
pure and good go on I suppose would have to be myself you but if you could leave yourself out the
picture my car even as a keynote even as a keynote just for a minute talk about
something else what do you reckon o hopeful for I am genuinely optimistic
and people don’t believe this but because I’m very interested in
Saturn and I’m very interested in history I tend not to get too panicked
when a story comes around again and people say that’s either complacent or
it gives you a sense of proportion I mean I I had this you know my my
mother-in-law who’s 90 she said to me after Brett she said it’s terrible
brexit Trump I’ve never lived in a more frightening world and I said in 1939 you
were a teenager this is just bollocks that was much more frightening and she
said yes you’re right yes sir obviously that that was rather more frightening
and canceled her subscription but it is remembering that I mean I’m a great fan
of George Orwell and George Orwell wrote in 1948 he said will people stop calling
each other fascists we’ve just spent five years fighting against real
fascists you said in the last year everybody I know has been called a
fascist village schoolmaster postmaster vegetarians feminists everybody calls
each other fascist can you not do this and I think that’s what online does now
a lot of these things come round again the idea that you know Trump is the
biggest liar in public life if you see Mussolini you know apart from the
obvious similarities the it it’s um you know the bombast the the
inability to and the the unwillingness to accept any sort of fact except what
you want is not new so one of the reasons I find I’m I’m happy you know to
continue doing what I do is because I think this isn’t the first time this has
happened I mean the winter crisis in the NHS we’ve just had there’s a fabulous
book by Nicolas Timmons called the five Giants about the social services and he
says there has not been a year since the health service was started where there
was not a winter crisis in which someone said it will not survive until January
it happens every time yes and there are problems to be addressed yes you can get
upset about it and should do and we do to go into total gloom and hysteria by
something happening which repeatedly happens in not only British big human
history seems to me despairing so I won’t do that I want to
I’m very aware that I want to leave as much time beefy amount of time for
questions from the floor as well as the wee folk not if they’re any good of
course that you may not be very reticent to a reluctant to answer some of them
but you know and I think you’re more like a market researcher inside
professional than you think I think you are
and there’s why I think you are because researchers on a daily basis have to
recommend staff have to report on stuff whilst hiding their own biases while
hiding their own opinion and I think that you sounds like you find yourself
in a similar position how hard do you find it to comment on the world around
us while not showing your political colours and do you think you’re always
successful I don’t think I hide very much to be honest I think it’s because
my colors aren’t tribal people are more confused i I don’t belong to any of the
political parties and I’ve always voted on a least worst basis I believe it’s
absolutely vital to vote I’ve always voted in every election every council
election you know all well again I think you know
it’s as important to vote for our politicians as it is to laugh at them
you know he’s a source of great wisdom I think you always should but I do it on a
you know what I what I believe they are offering at the time so people find it
confusing and you know I mean I look pretty small see conservative you know
ask Paul Merton and he would say well he’s a sort of upper class twit and you
know I sort of Paul’s appreciation of the class system is not very finely
graded Peter will tell you but um I think people assume certain things
because of my background or what I say or whatever and they don’t know where
I’m coming from but I mean I I try and approach politics which is in in the
grand tradition of British satire which is to say you know that’s ridiculous
that doesn’t work that’s actually corrupt you know it’s vice folly humbug
that’s that’s the tradition and I don’t think you have to be very hidden about
that you just say that is ridiculous and all of that comes from a belief that
it could be run better we’re gonna go to some questions on the floor in just two
seconds but I’ve got a real quick fire one for your quickfire ones that were
actually fed to us earlier so these are real short answers one on these and then
we’re gonna go to the then we’re going to go to the audience
greatest mistake you’ve made while editing the I MMR I think I ran that
story too long and didn’t accept the criticism early enough okay dreamhost on
have I got news for you oh I think it would have to be Blair dating that would be one a whole other
keynote there best private I cover missing WMD round best private I cover
that you’ve that you’ve that you created my favorite was the one that got banned
in Ireland it was a picture of the Pope addressing a crowd saying I remember the
old days when boys used to want to enter the priesthood thank you very much I’ve shot I’ve got a
couple of other questions but I’m going to leave it there
I’m going to leave it there let’s throw this open to the floor we’ve had a few
one slide oh but actually I want to try and go if you if you want to slide
though questions stick your hand up anyway I don’t want to give us go from
this let’s go to this lady at the front here hi phrase we often use in the
insight industry is getting to a human truth or unearthing some human truth and
you touched upon this we’re talking about fact but or about the kind of hard
numbers and but I’m more interested in it from your perspective as someone who
works in satire and treat the treatment of human truth is not one hard thing
that we get to that’s kind of deep inside and so especially in this context
of post truth what is your kind of instinctive understanding of what human
truth is today could you pause the mic down the line thank you Gordian it’s one
of the Archbishop of Canterbury isn’t it what is human truth I suppose you’re
saying yes I mean there’s a fact-based bit of the I which is the journalism and
then they’re jokes in which you are distilling what your view of the world
is or what you think about the truth of the situation is and you do it with a
joke so I mean I think the best jokes are the ones that express something
that’s true and that’s why they resonate and that you’re using the joke to make a
comment about what you think the world should look like or or how it does
operate and I think that’s the best the satirist can do really and people’s
people say to me will do make a joke about anything where’d you draw the line
and I draw the line if I can defend this joke before I put it in then I’ll be
happy and then afterwards when people say I think that’s crass or black humour
or that’s too grim I’ve lost one I could defend that and say but I still
think it’s true you know I’m 9/11 happened and there was
remember George Bush was reading that primary school book and he was sitting
in a classroom and an aide came up to him and we had a brilliant photograph of
it and we put it on the front cover with the bubble and the aide saying it’s
Armageddon sir and Bush saying well i’ma get Maddie yeah which was you know in
the context of 9/11 quite poor taste but I thought it was defensible because what
his first reaction was was to run for it and that again was was not presidential
so I suppose we’re trying to say what are people feeling at that point what
are they actually saying I mean let’s go to another question over here hello um
there’s a lot of talk in the world of advertising and marketing about persuade
people of stuff and one response is don’t tell people factual information
you should appeal to their emotions and yeah you know that sort of individual
stories and I wondered you know do you think that’s true basically yes I mean I
can see that that would be the received wisdom that you shouldn’t tell people this will or won’t work or this is or it
isn’t effective but just say tell us your story you know how’s it feel for
you I dunno I would find that rather creepy any other questions any other
questions on you know I that seems to be part of the same trend really we’re
gonna pass the mic down here to the front and then we’re gonna go along to
by the way just quickly somebody else last year
Danny asks last year we had forgot to mention this to you Ed Balls was here
okay last year we had ed balls do Gangnam style so this year can you floss
I do every night okay fair enough what is flossing
sorry understand what floss is Danny it’s a dance thank you very much indeed
we’re indebted to you as they say in court there’s question over here no God
it’s so which is it Randolph all all products yeah Frosty’s when I was on Desert Island Discs I was
asked what my luxury would be and I said Frosty’s and then a lorry arrived at my
house year’s supply and my wife said you idiot why didn’t you say Porsche mr.
trick and participative cereal available most of which are represented in this
routine various marketing directors and I accept that there probably got quite a
high sugar content I’m not I still really like them we’ve got a question
come forward it’s quite contentious I’m not quite sure why it’s anonymous but
it’s come through can you imagine in what your front page will be for the
meeting of Trump and mr. Kim he’s on the line now damn it we’ve been rumbled what
do you think so would your Trump and mr. Kim cover
gains a bit well we did a you know a Trump Kim cover about you know he’s out
to launch and then we did the fat man and then we did well you know I’m gonna
have to deal with the maniac but so is he we did all those and then I found
that he’d retweeted half of them it’s gonna be difficult I mean the thing that
worries me is that if trumple’s this one off it will it will indicate that being
completely bonkers is quite good diplomatic tactics internationally which
would be a quite a grim precedent so we’re all going to be torn in the
liberal media between saying isn’t it marvellous there’s a peace deal now god
this means he’ll be bonkers on every other front
so it’s gonna be a tough one for us in question from the front here from
familiar face in the context of the brakes it debate is that anything you
think that could have been told to the British people which would have swung
the debate the vote the other way I do know some of the facts would probably
have been good and also some indication of what they were voting for and it’s
just repeatedly you know and everybody now says it they say well immigration
was very much what people were voting well why didn’t people say at the time
what type of immigration don’t you like if you don’t like immigration from
Commonwealth countries this isn’t going to stop it if you don’t like refugees
they don’t come from Europe you know if you quite like Italian people working in
your hospital then don’t vote the other way you know if you’d like this party
mr. Faraj will cater for you but this isn’t mainstream a lot of that stuff
wasn’t put on there do you want to belong to a single market you know that
there are a lot of farmers around where I live who were all very very leave and
then after they said do you know our subsidies are going to be removed
you think we’ve got a question there was somebody over there if we can just run
the mic over there and while we do that I’ve got a question for you that came
through on our sliding which is oh it’s gone so you appear on the cover of Pride
this is from Danny so you appear on the cover of Private
Eye once you have retired what’s the joke that features you yeah now that
depends who I appoint as my successor doesn’t it are they being groomed at the
moment don’t use that word I’m the last figure from the 80s who
hasn’t been around we’ve got a question over there this is not a question this
is a request would you do Jimmy sorry I think the question was thank you
very can you do your Jimmy Somerville impression and no another quite any
other questions any other questions for him one at the Batman I had a complaint
from Jimmy Somerville I did that impression once a very long time ago and
I haven’t repeated it and Jimmy Somerville said here I think it was
robably to NME saying the comparison is ludicrous Ian Hislop cannot dance but on
every other level it was good well we had Richard Cole’s on the program who
was in the commune arts with Jimmy Somerville and he sat next to me and
said this is like old times there was a question by the way if you have asked a
question remember who you are because we’ve got 10 or 12 copies of private
either hints kindly gonna sign void the recent history there was question over
there bring your two quid up hello Demi Thackeray from penguin Random House
thanks for the reviews I was just going to say do you a lot of us in this room
are part of our day to day job is delivering truths that people don’t
necessarily want to hear some of us try and do it in an entertaining way do you
ever find the important truths that you’re trying to deliver can be obscured
by the tone or the humor and not actually land you know to the masses
that they need to you know basically really brexit and I think actually I
mean I I think I believe that they land better if you do them in a certain way
often even in the investigative journalism and the straight pieces we
run I do say to journalists you know the one thing people will not put up with is
being bored and that is part of the problem a
presentation of of difficult material it’s not that it it’s not right or it’s
not exhaustive it’s just dull and you know one of the problems have say some
of the big investigative scoops the Panama papers the the follow-up the
Paradise papers it was just 12 pages do you wanna read
that with a sort of huge amounts of dense text and 17 companies you haven’t
heard of and three rather complex financial vehicles the whole trick of
these things is finding what you were talking about earlier which is that the
human story in it which is you know you you need to make the story in some way a
narrative in some way human and you can jump it’s easy to do that on the joke
front but even I mean on the you know a story like the Paradise Papers it’s just
then there you know 12 million files and we’ve got a thousand and 97 you want to
know which person is the biggest crook how much money have they not paid that
could have been used to build a school or a hospital or oh whatever you need to
make it in some way applicable I mean that and that’s the journalists problem
rather than saying oh we’ve brexit there are you know there are 37 competencies
trades only one of them we’ve got to talk about aviation control and port
authorities and you think oh god this sounds really good I’m bored even even
thinking about it or the medical agency and then the finance reserves but you
know when that bloke came and said within a day there’ll be a 30-mile
tailback from Dover of people waiting to get through and no one will be able to
deliver everyone suddenly thought oh yeah yeah that’s not a good idea is it
and then someone said you remember the Good Friday Agreement do you want the
troubles back no no we don’t really that’s the way to cut through I think
I’m gonna close with this last question to you in you’ve got a group of research
professionals insight professionals in this room and you know they don’t come
cheap yeah although some of them do who we
have loans if you did have the budget and the
inclination for it what would you want them to find out for you whether it’s to
do with the eye or in general life and society
what do you fuck what do you want to know in these people will tell you they
want it out I want to know the meaning of life is that a couple of weeks as a
project III suppose I mean half the stuff that
you think you know I mean this is I mean it’s a last point you said libel used to
be your big problem our biggest problem now is confidentiality privacy which
people claim about areas which are essentially I think should be in the
public domain and you know we make jokes about max because he’s the tip of the
iceberg is everyone behind him saying well all my dealings of private – this
is all confidential and trying to find out anything really anything now about
that interface between public and private money you’re just told it’s
confidential you know how much does this hospital contour cost to run you know
I’m afraid we can’t tell you that why not well it’s owned by a private company
how much you know does it cost the parole service to supervise two or three
I’m afraid we can’t tell you that that’s run by capital capital
completely different brands one of them has an R in it you’re basically asking
them to go through bins aren’t ya that’s really that is it nothing wrong with
bins before which all this to a close I just want to very very quickly say
before we before I say thank you to you and that tomorrow on the subject of
comedy and satire and senses of humor we’ve got a workshop that’s going on
upstairs it’s the final workshop of the day I would say to everyone that if you
are going to go to that tomorrow you are going to need to fill out a pre task
that is basically described in the program so I just wanted to remember to
do that if you want to go to that where links the stuff that we’ve been talking
today you’ll need to do that before you go to that session but anyway putting
that aside for a second you know without going into a whole load of detail we’ve
been trying for years to get you in his locker to come to our conference we came
so close to it last year but I’m delighted that you
able to join us this year I know you’re not going to want me to say this but
you’re the nearest damn thing we’ve had on this platform to a real true national
treasure no I know no it’s all over it’s all over I promised I wouldn’t use those
words but you know a true an influential voice for this country and a much valued
one and a much valued voice at this conference today please would you join
me in thanking the great you

100 thoughts on “Ian Hislop, Private Eye, on satire and censorship speaking at Impact 2018

  1. https://youtu.be/h-AjiUkbuh8?t=982

    Scottish Nationalists have a problem with democracy? What utter bullshit. They are dedicated to a democratic and informed move to independence.
    I have been both a Scottish Nationalist and an Eye reader for about 25 years.
    Enjoy every issue.

    I must say I have never been aware of a single piece on Scottish politics in the Eye that was informed in any way. Old news, poorly told from a great distance.

  2. the Church of England does offer confession, especially the High Church wing, but all CoE vicars can and do offer confession. i don't blame Ian but his vicar seems ignorant of his own church's sacrements

  3. interviewer bit keen to pack in as many audience qs as possible, half the time trying to move on before Ian's even answered

  4. Satire is the most childish form of protest, the most tedious form of art, the most laughable form of argument.

  5. Idiot… Refuges and illegals mostly cross via the tunnel. via the EU, specifically because the EU took the boarders down.
    But that is NOT why i voted out.

    I voted OUT because I believe in democracy.. .which poor Ian claims he does ,but I think he does not.
    Jukker WAS NOT democratically elected.
    What they did in Italy was NOT democratic.
    England fought for 400 years and two wars against European dictators, do we just throw it away?

  6. Here is my question though: Ian discusses 'no platforming' as if it is akin to the government shutting down the Mail. But it's more akin to the Daily Mail refusing to publish my Op-Ed entitled 'Why we should put the Royal Family (figuratively) through a Woodchipper'. The idea is that the platforms people say 'no' to are the ones they have a right to control – students and the university for example. For all the worry about an 'attack on free speech', it sure seems to involve a lot of speaking.

  7. Anybody Remember The SUN Asking there Readers for Dirt On Ian Hislop , And Coming Up With Nothing ….

  8. Nearly everybody is in favor of free speech for themselves and those who agree with them, and eager to silence those who have views they don’t like. It has pretty much always been thus.

  9. Hislop is a sanctimonious demagogue shit. Believing comedy to be “what hurts”, based upon presumptions founded wholly upon his own bias and unproved assertions is disgusting. He’s just another regressive twat who rationalizes everything who won’t be relevant the instant Trump, Rees-Mogg, Corbyn and Johnson retire.

  10. Hislop is 2 faced in 2003 he said the eu was run by a bunch of crooks and Bliar should let us have a referendum. It is still run by a bunch of crooks and anyone who voted to leave is an idiot. Has he changed his opinion on the eu because he has a new paymaster or is he just a complete TWAT, I know what I believe .

  11. Undoubtedly Ian Hislop is a witty and extremely intelligent man. Very likeable too. The sort of chap I'd like to have as my next door neighbour. I just wish he'd adopt a 'less politically correct' opinion once in a while. Quite often I feel he defends the indefensible, and after all these years, I'm STILL not sure whether he does it to garner extra publicity, or because he genuinely believes everything he says.

  12. £2, best investment in democracy i've ever made. Although ugandan talks seems to have slipped out of the lexicon. Are ugandan studies still offered in government?

  13. The arrogance of poor, unhappy Brits amazes me. Such a lot of miserable broke souls. They can't manage to complain enough.
    Their Empire crumbled and they're left with shit pensions and no expat benefits. Britain had its day in the sun and it's OVER for the sad British louts 😎 🥶 🤤 👺 🤫 🤥 😱 👿

  14. Whats wrong with the average Italian immigrant (7:08) etc etc .. you're winging it just like Trump and the rest of us ! … you arrogant little muck spreader. 🙂

  15. Much as I agree with Ian Hislop, I would like to point out that as Russia Today is financed by their government, the BBC's finances, although not direct grants from the state, are controlled by the British government, via the licence fee.

  16. Seemingly without a single giggle from the interviewer to smooth the conversation along.
    Interesting conversation and amusing enough without the interviewers enthusiasm, but it felt somewhat awkward.
    Thanks for the upload.

  17. Creepy little bum-licker, and hater of the working classes. All he does is edit a once good, now shabby little piss-taking RAG.

  18. I guess because I'm just a moron Mrkn viewer (and Private Eye subscriber), but how can anyone be threatened by satire, and the telling of the truth as they see it? I may not be likely to subscribe to the Trump Fan Newsletter, but they should be able to publish their groaning drivel. I have a choice, as do we all, and if Democracy is worthwhile, it's only worthwhile if the viewers/readers are educated/'nuanced/broad-minded/artistic/cultural/etc enough to listen, think, have a sense of goddamned humor, and respond, and absorb information so that we all can make educated decisions. No Private Eye, means that a lot of people might just accept mainstream media without question. Questions mean thought. Democracy requires severe responsible thinking by the very people engaging in it. Otherwise, let's just call it mob rule and anarchy.

  19. Sorry Ian, but the Daily Mail isn't just about disagreeing with their politics, it's about their fear mongering and hate incitement. Calling judges or MPs enemies of the people is very dangerous.

  20. The well honed insult is endemic to British humor; and surprisingly perhaps, among those Southerners in the US more or less directly descended, as both of mine were. from the UK. I grew up learning to laugh at myself at the dinner table when I became the brunt, which was often, as I was the youngest. I had to unlearn this tendency when I began to socialize as a teen and later in more intimate relationships. Nobody else really understands the cultural habit, more's the pity I feel, but I learned to at least soft pedal it, in deference to its being inappropriate here in the US. So manicuring the skillfully honed deprecating slur is almost lost to me. I've brought it back to life lately with ODL (Our Dear Leader) giving so many opportunities, almost too easy!

  21. Life, while apparently made up of the stuff of the sparkly, mindless Universe, gives the proverbial finger to all of its laws. While Life takes the curly path, declining the straight line, and swims upstream in spite of the free ride down, and reproduces itself to thwart its own decline, short of 'the meaning', a vague request at best; I'd say Life is everything Death isn't, and proud of it. Furthermore, as to Human Life, we're here to save the planet, gather Life in its essential, transportable form and take it elsewhere, to another of "my father's many mansions" (Jesus Christ). Of course we don't all get that. Just remember, Nature operates on a 'need to know' basis, and She take no prisoners. We, having fought one another in the great team sport known as War, have equipped ourselves thereby to do all this, despite our sloppy ways and inherent laziness. Irony. But it seems we're well along in pulling this magnificent mission off; but even when we do, some won't catch on.

  22. And THIS man is Editor of 'Private Eye'? He is pure, unadulterated, Establishment MSM. There is nothing remotely subversive about him! He will NEVER challenge the Masonic Establishment of the United Kingdom. He even attends his local Parish Church of the Church of England, for goodness' sake. How Establishment can you get?

  23. Typical little man who, when young, couldn't stand up to bigger kids so read and uses his mind and tongue to bully others now. Strangely, if one of his targets beat him up physically, he'd squeal like a stuck pig. Bullying can be done verbally as well as physically! As for his satire…it's a cruel, sneering comedy measure used by little people to make themselves feel big. You can, after all, use the 'it's only satire' defence when it looks like you're going to get your arse kicked.
    Plus, he's a hateful, little shit of an ugly human!

  24. dose anybody listen to this crap any more? as for mr hislop in 2018 he missed reporting on the biggest news worthy story. can you guess?

  25. dose anybody listen to this crap any more? as for mr hislop in 2018 he missed reporting on the biggest news worthy story. can you guess?

  26. the problem with him now is he is incresingly biased in his approach to things. his remoaning along with the BBC has slashed his readership and his veiwing figures.

    most of his satire is very very lame.

    oh look some remoaning, what a surprise.

  27. 7:00 – "That brilliant Michael Wolf book…"

    This is something I didn't expect to hear from Ian Hislop as the book has been exposed as being full of lies, even by some of Trumps' critics. When we are dealing with anonymous sources for some of the most outrageous claims, and when some claims have been proven as absolutely false, how can any respectable journalist claim the book is brilliant? Ian Hislop is a very intelligent man, he is also a very well informed man and so he has no excuse to make such a silly comment.

    Private Eye is great and it has revealed a great many scandals, but the way it operates is open to abuse by the intelligence services and politicians hoping to push certain angles. It would not be difficult to develop a trusted source by feeding stories to Private Eye over a number of years which were correct and then throwing in a false or partially false story at the right moment. His (Ian Hislops') opinion that journalism is about being told things by those in the right positions is a poor definition of journalism. The greatest journalists go out and discover information, they use secret recordings, they follow paper trails, they get themselves in the middle of things in order to have direct experience of what is going on and then attempt to present the information in the most objective manner possible.

    Being told things should at best be considered the jumping off point of an investigation.

  28. I'm not surprised to learn Ian Hislop likes George Orwell: "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

  29. Is there anyone in British public life who's more sanctimonious than the little prick Hislop? Apart from in Parliament I mean.

  30. I like Ian Hislop when he is doing TV documentaries, but stopped watching HIGNFY a long time ago.
    Where he is just another extension of the BBC's political bias.

  31. Wi-fi full power, check. Laptop working , check. Post running just fine until Corbyn & his followers were mentioned & now … nothing. Funny old world about you can say what you want as long as they agree with you.

  32. Mr. Hislop on Trump: '…He's, he's very successful with women, except the ones who know him.'
    You've gotta love a professional satirist.

  33. Re the Daily Mail – they print blatant lies. Absolute fabrications, invented to divide the populace. And it works. That is why they have no place in the UK, not because I happen to disagree with them. I have no problem with facts, I might not like them, but they are what they are. Lies are not journalism they are fiction.

  34. Hislop appears on a forum that represents an industry Private Eye exists to lampoon, but that is somehow all suspended here? Those present are marketing people whose jobs are fundamentally to create commercial smoke and mirrors (masquerading as "research"), and whose purpose indirectly is to sell stuff with lies, deceit, bogus statistics and "lifestyle" bullshit. Private Eye ruthlessly lampoons the PR industry in every issue. But no sense of irony from any participant.

  35. Moaning, mainstream, remainer. It just goes to show how successful the elies are at sucking in critics with our cash. Think about it, the ed of Private Eye is an establishment man – a man who backs the mega-corporate shit the EU stands for. Welcome to deception.

  36. I like Hislop and love the Private Eye, but his take on Remainers and speaking out is very poor and for him simple, as a leave voter free speech is important, i/we would not change that, but to attempt to reverse a democratic vote is 100% wrong full stop. If a general election is won , yes contest policies and ideologies but would you still after nearly 3 years try and reverse the general election result? Hes lost on his opinion there with a poor analogy . As a leaver i welcome pro EU views, i would change my mind if its possible.

  37. A lttle too much of the interviewer, the interminable preambles and over-long questions. Ended up, I couldn't watch till the end

  38. I love Ian Hislop and agree that he is a national treasure. I do wonder at his stance on Scottish nationalism though. The Scots have been lied to and exploited by the London Establishment for three hundred years and are now coming at 'the TRUTH' of our situation and how we have been manipulated and deceived by generations of politicians. We deserve our truth and freedom just as much as anyone on these islands who want a decent country to live in. Scotland voted 'Remain' and yet will still be dragged out of the EU by Westminster politicians who care not a jot for the Scots but only for our taxes. Come on Ian, a bit of support for us up North would be very welcome.

  39. What he's saying around the 17 minute mark is spot on. I know several under 30s like this, they make out they're easy going 21st century kids but then they are outraged when somebody doesn't share their views.

  40. Apart from the irritating host, there is Hislop laughing at his own effortful jokes; he clearly thinks he is a lovable imp who everyone does love; but count me out. Telling lies about people has been Private Eye's bread-and-butter for years, and then laughing it all off as just the misbehaviour of lovable rogues. That's ok of course as long as YOU are not the victim.
    And I wonder how he feels about appearing on HIGNFY with Baroness Varsi (also running for lovable status) our chief anti-free speech advocate in Parliament, who wants to outlaw criticism of Islam. Doesn't he think that he thereby supports a view of her as a lovable politician, whereas if he were consistent then surely he would refuse to help domesticate the latest serious threat to our civilisation? I will try to find out if he expressed any criticism of her censorship ambitions on that programme (which I did not see) with her.

  41. The GREAT Ian Hislop. Absolutely. I hope I pre-decease Ian, because my world will be diminished with his loss. Keep on breathing and doing what you do, thank you.

  42. In the last copy of Private Eye I will buy, I got to two articles about Honda quitting the UK because of Brexit – then the magazine hit the bin. It is fake news because Honda leaving the UK has nothing whatever to do with Brexit.
    Private Eye is an important magazine but needs a fresh editor. It is a pity to see it undermined by Hislop, an establishment Remainer who takes the BBC's coin.

  43. I remember when Paul Merton said he was going to punch his face in for being nasty to Paula Yates ,he looks like he’s just been thrown out of a pub .

  44. The sheer hypocrisy at around 17:30 is very funny. The Mirror must be allowed to say what it wants but Corbyn on RT is right out. 😉

  45. The civilize effect that Oxford had on Ian Hislop has long worn out. Replaced by irrational envy of Boris Johnson. Ian 's not funny.  What he's  got left is tragicomedy!  He's gone over the edge and doesn't know it…

  46. At 42:00, huh? Bush did NOT RUN from the preschool. He just froze and carried on reading for sometime, but then went into (what appeared to be) AirForce1 hiding and hours of media silence — when in fact it would have been a combination of Secret Service protocol to "hide him" but it also showed own impotence because OTHERS were controlling the show, ie Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, to avoid him fucking up public opinion for their game plan. This is not the kooky conspiracy line but simply historical fact. I'm really surprised Ian interpreted it in his stated way. Mind you, he's far more used to Brit PMs directly confronting their various historical "armageddons". Mind you, that very difference in emergency performance clearly proves how ursurped the 9/11 President's power was in that situation.

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