A Personal Note on the BBC’s Anti-Mormon Hit Piece

John Sweeney of the the British Broadcasting Corporation
Photograph by Eamonn Mccabe of The Guardian

I see that Mr. John Sweeney, of the BBC, is again somewhat in the news for his reportage on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Church’s public relations firm is unhappy with him.

As well they should be.

He interviewed me, too.  And although he was friendly enough during the set-up, I was really quite taken aback — and I’ve been around the block a time or two with reporters and interviews (here and abroad, in English, in German, and in Arabic) — at the relentlessly adversarial character of his questions once the camera was rolling.  It was a staccato barrage of hostile and sometimes even sneering questions.

I didn’t and don’t expect entirely softball questions from the media, nor even much sympathy; I know that there are difficult issues out there, and that many Latter-day Saint beliefs and practices seem absurd and even sometimes offensive to many outside of our community.

But I did and do expect some minimal degree of evenhandedness.

I apparently didn’t make the final cut of his assault-documentary.  I have no idea why.  Perhaps I wasn’t telegenic enough.  Perhaps the film didn’t turn out well.  Perhaps I didn’t give him any answers that were sufficiently embarrassing.  I’ve not only had some experience with interviews, but, perhaps to his disappointment, I’m also more than familiar with the subjects he brought up, which were pretty standard-issue items from the arsenal of secular anti-Mormonism.  (It was obvious, in that sense, that he was well-prepped.)  His accusatorial tone and his rapid-fire prosecutorial style surprised me — he even, sometimes, derided and challenged my answers — but the substance of his accusations didn’t.

I was very disappointed in Mr. Sweeney as a journalist, though, and I think I probably ought to put my experience with him into the public record.

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