Look again at Tim Bell’s ‘car crash’ Newsnight interview
Tim Bell has been widely – and rightly, in my opinion – excoriated for his ‘car crash’ Newsnight appearance before Kirsty Wark defending his role in Bell Pottinger’s demise.
With his (former) company on the verge of bankruptcy, his own name being dragged through the mud, and mindful of the potential impact of his own consultancy Les Frontieres, Bell set out to distance himself from events, and from his sparring partner James Henderson.
Arguably, he just about managed it, even if he also came across as arrogant, dismissive, and shifty.
He also made a notable gaff by leaving his phone switched on.
But was this the silly, cringe-worthy error it appeared?
Bell is a seasoned PR hand who prepped Margaret Thatcher, amongst others, for media interviews.
There is almost zero chance he would accidentally have left his phone on. And even less chance that he would have failed to turn it off again during a high-profile, high stakes interview.
Bell deliberately left his phone on and enlisted friends to call and message him in order to disorientate and distract his interviewer from the outset.
The diversionary tactic failed. Wark stuck doggedly to her task and proved she was not for turning – leaving Bell in an even deeper hole.
Thatcher must be looking askance in her grave.