The interviewer clearly had done little research and just presented the claims of the fat man and his henchmen as fact. Having said that the fairest thing I can say about Sunny's performance is that it was a missed opportunity.
Whilst I summon up my response to this, why don't you watch the video...
Mike calls Sunny's performance "a missed opportunity"; I feel that the word "abysmal" would describe it better. Sunny's performance is so poor, I feel that it even outranks Guido's Newsnight performance in sheer awfulness. Whilst Guido was being bullied, and constantly and deliberately wrong-footed by Michael White, all that Sunny had to do was to outline the problems that bloggers had around this area.
So, why was it so bad? Well, generally, Sunny seemed ill at ease with the whole situation and, bizarrely, with his grasp of the English language. He didn't seem to understand what the issues really were; a shocking omission given how many people have written about this situation in detail.
Now, on to the interview itself.
- Sunny firstly attacks the webhosts, Fasthosts, for taking down the sites "without any warning" and that "that made a lot of bloggers really angry". First, none of us with any knowledge have attacked Fasthosts; we cannot expect them to risk a massively expensive libel case for a fight that is not theirs. Most bloggers were not angry at Fasthosts: they were angry at Usmanov and his pet lawyers, Schillings.
Second, we do not know whether Tim was given notice that they were going to pull his servers. As someone who runs dedicated servers myself, I find it very doubtful indeed that Tim was given no warning. But the point is that we just don't know what, precisely, went on.
Verdict: wrong target and misinformation.
- When answering thinly-veiled accusations of bloggers being unaccountable smear-mongers, Sunny utterly misses a couple of quite crucial points. The first point is that the original allegations actually appeared in Craig Murray's book, Murder In Samarkand; Usmanov and Schillings did not take any action against that book.
The second, and most crucial point that Sunny omitted, was that bloggers are not unregulated. We are subject to the same libel laws as any print media publication, and a few more.
Verdict: he missed the point. Again.
- Again, and this time at the interviewer's invitation, Sunny lays into the webhosts, saying that their behaviour is "despicable" and that he hopes that it sends out a message that "they can't just take these websites down without any notice". To which I refer you to point 1 above.
Verdict: wrong target and misinformation. Yet again
I know that it is probably beyond the wit of the media to find a blogger who knows what the fuck he is talking about, but this performance makes us all look like ill-informed Asperger's sufferers, no doubt reinforcing the idea, in the mind of the interviewer and audience, that all bloggers are four-eyed geeks with no ability to verbalise their ideas. In short, Sunny was piss-poor: believe me, I wish he had not been.
So, what should he have concentrated on? Well, the obvious thing is the issue that those of us with half a brain have actually been railing against: the British libel laws. So draconian are these laws that we are becoming the favoured destination for "libel tourists"; I outlined the reasons why that is so a few days ago (with thanks to Unity).
The second worthwhile thing to point out would have been that our libel laws essentially exist because we do not have a Constitution which, like the American one, guarantees free speech.
These are two very basic ideas which could have been outlined clearly and concisely and actually would have cut to the heart of the matter. Any half-way articulate blogger could have, for instance, asked other bloggers for an outline of these issues, and then gone on to the programme and made a real stir.
Unfortunately, the blogosphere was, for some unknown reason, represented by Sunny Hundal. And he fucked it up.