That’s the way to do it

Regular readers will know that I have been very critical of Sky News in the past, but credit where it’s due and, as my second least favourite journalist is given her own interview show, I want to instead acknowledge some people who this week have epitomised the best that my profession has to offer.

One of the senior figures on the channel, who herself has taken a huge amount of criticism over the years, showed colleagues how it’s supposed to be done, not once but twice in a week.

Kudos to Kay Burley for demonstrating what journalism holding authority to account really looks like with a Monday morning demolition of Minister of State for Europe, James Cleverly followed a few days later when she absolutely wiped the floor with Ministry of Defence minister James Heappey.

No pantomime earnestness or arm waving, just direct questions and a steadfast refusal to move on until those questions were answered.

Heappey especially must have felt punch drunk after an encounter concerning the UK’s obsession with making refugees fleeing from Ukraine fill in forms that would confuse people with English as a first language, in which his feeble attempt to defend Priti Patel by saying it was hard being Home Secretary was greeted with a terse, “it’s hard fleeing a war”.

And while still reeling from the Burley interrogation, he then immediately found himself on the ropes again from an unlikely source in BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt, who was also in no mood for rhetoric.

Meanwhile, right in the middle of the war zone, the likes of Jeremy Bowen, Lyse Doucet and the utter legend that is Alex Crawford to name but three, are on the ground with their camera operators and producers, risking their lives to keep us informed in our safe, warm (for now anyway) living rooms.

From their daily dispatches we see the human toll of the invasion, clear evidence of war crimes by Russian forces and how the planet’s governments are being given an abject lesson in real leadership from a comedy actor who once did a sketch on Ukraine TV where he appeared to play the piano with his penis.

Volodymyr Zelensky is an inspiration, not only to his people, but to the entire free world. The standing ovation he received from our politicians before his historic address to Parliament last week was the least he deserved. His brave countrymen are a prime example of the important difference between patriotism and nationalism.

Some of Ukraine’s neighbours have also stepped up in the way they have welcomed fleeing women and children.

In Moldova, the population has grown by four per cent in just two weeks and one in eight children in the country is now a refugee.

Poland has taken in huge numbers, families have readily offered sanctuary in their homes and mothers have even been leaving baby strollers on train station platforms so that Ukrainian mums with babies can use them as they disembark.

Then there’s us. We set up a trellis table in France with a box of Kit Kats and turned families away for not having the right form while bigging ourselves up as a major player in this humanitarian crisis.

It’s good journalism that has brought all of this into the public domain and I would speculate that it’s the same good journalism that has helped put a boot under the Home Office’s backside which has seen them move up a couple of gears at last.

After all, it’s hard being Home Secretary. Apparently.

At a time when confidence in national media is almost as low as it is with politics, the biggest threat to security in Europe since the Second World War has certainly separated the wheat from the chaff in both fields.

Stupid TV quiz answer of the week

The Chase:

Q: What animal is college mascot Alberta Gator?

A: Crocodile

Edward Case

Columnist