Tim Blair


New Criterion



Sunday, June 27, 2004
MY MOTIVE for following our Phillip Gastropod Adams's Late Night Live is a secret ambition to be recognised as an expert in the pathologies of the intellect.

Take the recent interview with Rabbi Cyril Harris, chief Rabbi of South Africa, a man of the moderate political left.

Harris is blessed with a sense of humour. He needs it because he is cursed with a Scots accent. He has also been annointed by Nelson Mandela, and is therefore untouchable to the warriors of the left.

Our Gastropod is limited to using Harris to demonstrate that some of his best friends are Jews (and others are doubtless Americans).

It is when we come to the question of Israel and its policies that we see the Adams untruth-generator working at its classic best.

Adams leads Rabbi Harris towards a denunciation of that wall separating the Palestinian bombers from their intended targets. Where a weaker man than Harris might have been led to confine his response to his reservations about the wall (and Harris has some) the guest leads with a strong defence of Israel's right of self-defence, including the wall.

In a classic example of his deviousness, our Gastropod slides past the answer as if it had not happened. No defence of his own assertion, to which he will return at the next opportunity. The air of urbane chumminess is maintained, new flatteries lubricate the transitions.

You can see why Adams prefers to play with his regular stroke-pals Shapiro and Campbell. If they don't follow the lead they can be sacked.

But even with the occasional guests, Adams plays the averages. Most of us are too polite, or unengaged, to resist such leading on someone else's territory.

This is really high-quality corruption of the role of public broadcasting.