Conrad Black bests Paxman and Boulton: bring on Ian Hislop...
Media baron calls Paxo 'priggish' and Adam Boulton a 'jackass' en route to Have I Got News For You
EXCITEMENT is building among media types who predict a television car crash of epic proportions when the disgraced former Daily Telegraph proprietor Conrad Black takes on Private Eye editor Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You this week.
Black, who is not known for his sense of humour, has been limbering up for his appearance by giving combative interviews to the Mail on Sunday, Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman and Sky News' Adam Boulton.
He has already described Rupert Murdoch as a "psychopath", Boulton as a "jackass", Jeremy Paxman as a "priggish fool" and the US justice system as "fraudulent and fascistic" – all while loudly proclaiming his innocence.
Black, 68, is in town to promote his book, Conrad Black – a Matter of Principle. He kicked off hostilities with an interview in the Mail on Sunday in which he described the British media as "the lowest mutation of human life".
He called Rupert Murdoch, whose company HarperCollins published Tom Bower's biography, Conrad And Lady Black: Dancing On The Edge, "a psychopath, a person of no emotional or ethical thought... He's an astonishingly cold man, like Stalin except that he doesn't kill people".
As for Bower himself, he is "a dead man", said Black, who, despite spending three years in a Florida jail for fraud, retains the title 'Baron Black of Crossharbour'.
Black progressed to an interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight (see video below). When Paxman labelled Black a criminal, the former media baron said he had been convicted by an American prosecution system that is a "fraudulent fascistic conveyor belt to a corrupt prison system" and called his interviewer a "priggish, gullible, British fool".
He later threatened to punch Paxman. "Let me tell you something," said Black. "I am proud of having gone through the terribly difficult process of being falsely charged, falsely convicted and ultimately almost completely vindicated without losing my mind, becoming irrational, ceasing to be a penitent and reasonable person and actually being able to endure a discussion like this without getting up and smashing your face in, which is what most people would do."
When Paxman challenged Black to "go ahead", he replied: "No, no, no. I don't believe in violence."
Seconds out, round three – and, yesterday, on Murdoch-owned Sky News, Black again proved a difficult interviewee (see video below). He told Adam Boulton – whose name he pointedly forgot - to "stop being such a jackass".
Asked by Boulton why he had agreed to go on Have I Got News to You - where he is bound face ridicule from Private Eye editor Ian Hislop - he said it was because he had a book to push. "I am here to sell books; I am not here to enjoy your somewhat predictable questions."
Warned by Boulton that he faced being humiliated on HIGNFY, Black replied: "We'll see who makes whom a figure of fun. I normally don't do too badly exchanging acerbities if that's what people want to do."