Kay Burley on Sky News—Incompetent, ignorant or just malicious?

2:39 pm - February 28th 2008

by MatGB    

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Imagine finding out that your husband that you’ve been living with for a few years is actually the serial killer that has been terrorising your town. You’re invited to appear on a supposedly reputable national news programme for an interview and to put your side of the story, only to find that the most significant question you face is this:

Do you think if you’d had a better sex life, he wouldn’t have done this?

In all seriousness, is that even a valid question to ask? Is it in any way relevant? Is Steve Wright excused for killing at least 5 women because his wife didn’t put out enough? As Jennie puts it:

I’ve lost count of the times I have objected to this infantilisation of men – that they can’t be held responsible for their own actions; it’s all the fault of their mother/lover/grandma/female school teacher/murder victim/whatever – on feminist grounds, but surely it’s wrong from a male point of view as well? Don’t men want to be grown ups? Do they actually want to be mothered and smothered into irrelevancy?

Can’t speak for the entirety of the gender, naturally, but this one sure as hell doesn’t. Both Iain Weaver and comedian Mitch Benn give more details on this loathsome excuse for an interviewer, and it has enraged Debi Linton so much that she has started a petition to sack Kay Burley from a position she is palpably unsuitable for.

I have no real belief that such a petition will be effective, and I’m equally uncertain about the efficacy of OfCom, but it can at least be used to highlight the issue. The comments on the Sky News website are gratifyingly negative about the interviewer and the question, so there may be a chance.

Your opinions: is there any justification for asking this question at all? Isn’t it about time the media grew up about sex and relationships and stopped trying to blame crimes on innocent bystanders?

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About the author
Mat Bowles is an occasional contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He's mostly a house-husband working part-time at a local school, and is based in Calderdale, Yorkshire. A member of the Liberal Democrats, he is 35 and lives with Jennie Rigg. His general interest blog is currently hosted on Dreamwidth and his old political blog is at Not Little England.
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Reader comments

Yes, for my first post here I had planned a serious post about my normal high-politics electoral reform obsessions, but this issue just really wound me up, and I’m a bit busy to do the research needed for up to date links right now.


Lucky for Sky News that no-one really watches Sky News.

Would a BBC or C4 interview be allowed to get away with this?

>comments on the Sky News website are gratifyingly negative

Indeed, but the one from “Jude Fellows” at the top of the thread right now is a classic (is it terribly gauche to admit I almost fell off my chair laughing?). I hate to break it to Jude, but his wife probably is still “having sex at 42 years”. Though it would appear not with him. We can only wonder why.


Was there even a need to interview this woman at all?

It’s just an absolutely disgusting question, and I’m wondering what would have happened if it had been a male journalist asking it.

What substance was there to the question? The idea that men who don’t get enough may decide to murder girls instead? How is any reponse more than speculation anyway, and how the hell is this informing anyone?

It’s the absolute definition of empty sensationalism. Come back real investigative journalists, all is forgiven.

Don’t men want to be grown ups? Do they actually want to be mothered and smothered into irrelevancy?

Unless I missed something wasn’t the interview conducted between two females?

“Six months! To raise money for a jam festival? Isn’t that rather stupid?”

I think it’s no worse a question than the media asks on a range of other subjects. All the major broadcasters do it and I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve turned the news off exasperated because I can’t believe people are paid for asking so many pointless or obvious questions.

10. Pete Fenelon

What are Sky’s public service broadcasting commitments? Exactly. Their ‘news’ is entertainment, aimed firmly at the lower-end tabloid readers. Rigorous analysis and reasoned debate is not something one would expect on that platform; the news agenda is tailored to the other inputs the viewers are receiving (reactionary, right-wing, resolutely populist, no complexities, pro law-and-order) and Burley is acting as an audience mouthpiece here.

Burley’s journalistic experience is long past – she’s spent most of her career as a talking head on downmarket channels. The fault is as much an editorial one as a presnetational one, but making Murdoch’s empire take news seriously? No chance.

It’s a closed loop – Sky News viewers get the news they want. Or deserve….

Pete’s point is a strong one, Sky is entertainment pretending to be news—the problem being that a lot of people do take it seriously as a news broadcaster and it asks to be taken seriously.

@ Mike: The point isn’t that it was two women interviewing, it was that the question implies men should be absolved of responsibility for their actions, it’s always the women at fault: lack of sex at home? that’s an excuse for murder. Girl in revealingly short skirt? That’s an excuse for rape. Neither should be acceptable, but both are used, the latter both in rape trials and in religious texts.

12. Lobbywatcher

Perhaps someone should ask to Kay Burley: Do you think if George Pascoe Watson had had a better sex life, he would have left Alison Hardie for you?


Gee, thanks for explaining things to me, but I think even my feeble brain managed to grasp the point 🙂

I just wanted to point out, given the questions being asked of men, that this conversation was actually between two women. I happen to think that is relevant when statements are then made, on the basis of what passed between them, about what men want.

It suggests that somehow, because this interviewer chose to ask a dumb question, there is some need for to respond to vague questions about smothering and mothering!

Why make any assumptions at all about what men want based on a stupid question put by a not very bright interviewer to an even more gormless woman who, last time I looked, was going to stand by her disgusting, murderous partner she thought was innocent anyway?

Glad someone spoke out about this. This was on a feed-loop on Sky News last weekend. I think there is a glorious opportunity for a blogger with great talents to have a blog dedicated solely to the manure that Sky calls editorial “comment”. Step forward who?


Welcome to the team, dude.

Cloned poster, that would involve actually paying Sky and watching their content; that would take a braver person than I.

Mike, it makes a change from all the talk about what women want that goes on between men at this site.

Sunny, for pete’s sake sort out comment notification, will you?I’ve had to put up with no end of moaning about how nobody had commented on his post, until he realised that they had and he just wasn’t getting notified…

Great post Matt- welcome to the team!

Sunny, for pete’s sake sort out comment notification, will you?I’ve had to put up with no end of moaning about how nobody had commented on his post, until he realised that they had and he just wasn’t getting notified…

I don’t know whether to laugh at Mat moaning to you about that… or cry about the fact that I’ve been bullied into following your command 🙁

By “no end” she means “I mentioned it when she whinged at me for not telling her I’d posted here” but, y’know. Comment notification good…

Lee Griffin…I think there is a big difference between ‘pointless and obvious’ and this question, which goes way beyond any conventions of taste and decency.

Good article Mat… I do not subscribe to Sky…

Sunny, thank you

* smooches *

I am sick to death of Kay Burley. Her news broadcasting style is arrogant and self-righteous, and one sided. Do I want to hear how she loves Arsenal football club and that England will beat every other team on the planet – when they don’t. She crosses the line in interviews, and not even in an informative way like Jeremy Paxman. Its all about her being more important than the story she is covering. SKY News has become the tabloid of TV news stations. BBC World, Al Jazeera and even CNN (did I say that?!) are actually a lot more informative.

i cant stand kay burley and all the skynews crew fukin dissinfo agents the whole lot of em

when will they sack kay burley shes just plain stupid

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