Philip Pullman says traditional media have ‘no power anymore, and they know it’

Ellie Harrison
Philip Pullman: AFP

Philip Pullman, the author of His Dark Materials, has said traditional media “have no power anymore”.

The novelist behind the fantasy trilogy made the comment in relation to the BBC’s failure to secure an interview with Boris Johnson ahead of the Christmas election.

“It didn't occur to me at the time,” tweeted Pullman, “but Andrew Neil's glowering denunciation of Boris Johnson for not agreeing to an interview was an expression of baffled rage.

“Neil, and the traditional media in general, have no power any more, and they know it.”

As he closed his general election interview with Nigel Farage in December, Neil set aside several minutes to shame Johnson for failing to submit to a prime-time grilling of his own.

The veteran political broadcaster told viewers he had planned to hold the prime minister to account on issues of trust, but despite weeks of negotiations by the BBC, Johnson had not agreed to an interview.

“Leaders’ interviews have been a key part of the BBC’s prime-time election coverage for decades. We do them on your behalf to scrutinise and hold to account those who would govern us. That is democracy,” Neil said.

Farage, Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson and Nicola Sturgeon all sat for tough interviews with Neil during the election campaign.

At the time, Pullman commented on a video of Johnson making excuses for not doing the BBC interview, calling the politician “helminthic”.