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Robert Peston Questions Conflicts Of Interest In Michael Gove's Donald Trump Interview

'I just wondered which one of Michael Gove’s hats he was wearing.'

17/01/2017 12:09 | Updated 17 January 2017

Robert Peston has questioned the impartiality of Michael Gove’s interview with Donald Trump, highlighting numerous potential conflicts of interest.

In a Facebook Live video, ITV’s Political Editor describes The Times’ front page scoop on Monday as “one of the most curious, bizarre bylines I’ve seen in recent history”.

Gove’s interview with the President-Elect was the first by a British newspaper and became headline news for soundbites on a potential UK-US trade deal post-Brexit.

In the video, worth quoting in full, Peston says: “So I know we all bang on about ‘fake news’ and how it makes it impossible for us to really know what’s going on in the world but there are also old-fashioned conflicts of interest in journalism.

“And the problems they pose came to mind when I saw the front page of this morning’s Times newspaper and saw Michael Gove, the former Lord chancellor, distinguished person of the years, had written the splash following his interview with Donald Trump.

“I just wondered which one of Michael Gove’s hats he was wearing when he did his interview with Donald Trump.

“Obviously, ostensibly he’s writing for The Times, he’s a former employer and he has a column there. But he was also remember, the bloke who more or less ran Vote Leave’s successful campaign to get us out of the EU.

“And part of his argument when he was arguing for Brexit was getting out of the European Union would give us the freedom to negotiate important trade and political deals with other countries.

“So when you get a headline in The Times today saying Trump is desperate to get a trade deal with Britain and Michael Gove says that’s what he told him - and I’m sure he did tell him that - but he interestingly, very much backs up Michael Gove’s case.

“[Gove] is not exactly independent on this issue of a trade deal. And let’s be clear, lots of people think Trump might say the words about a fantastic trade deal with us but in practice he may find it difficult to deliver.

“He may find it difficult to get through Congress. He may himself notice that Britain has a huge - by our standards - trade surplus with America.

“He may think a trade deal with Britain could be a way of getting that trade surplus and our advantage over them down.

 

“I didn’t really notice Michael Gove challenging Trump about any of that.

“Michael Gove might have been wearing his MP’s hat. He did himself quite a lot of self-harm at the end of the Brexit campaign when he knifed his colleague Boris Johnson in the back.

“That didn’t make him very popular with his colleagues, didn’t make him very popular with Theresa May either but recently he’s been unbelievably nice about Theresa May.

 

 “He’s certainly implying that he would like a job in government again.

“Does that make him an impartial interviewer of Donald Trump? Probably not.

“He’s a super-bright bloke, he would have attempted to be impartial but we all suffer from conflicts of interest and his seem to be very big indeed.

“Of course there’s another one, he’s a close mate of Rupert Murdoch who has huge interests in Trump’s America.

“So all-in-all it was one of the most curious, bizarre bylines I’ve seen in recent history though hats off to The Times, they got a fantastic scoop.”

The edited version of Gove’s interview highlighted the President-Elect’s views on Brexit, Nato, Theresa May and a host of other important global matters.

The unedited version was very different.

Here are nine sentences that made no sense whatsoever.

(Questions were posed by both Michael Gove for The Times and Kai Diekmann, former chief editor of the German newspaper Bild.)

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