Almost eight million people have now watched Cathy Newman’s Channel 4 News interview with Jordan Peterson. This figure must be unique in the history of Channel 4 News online. Only a few minutes were broadcast on the original news programme, but Channel 4 then put out the full half-hour on YouTube, perhaps miscalculating the effects of watching the allegedly ‘transphobic’ Canadian clinical psychologist whose book 12 Rules for Life is selling out. I think what the majority of the eight million appreciate is that Peterson’s performance is noble. He attempts a clear exposition of his views about the differences between women and men. Despite every effort by Cathy Newman, he succeeds. Her method is to try to reduce his nuanced remarks to a hostile caricature, so she begins sentence after sentence with ‘What you’re saying is…’. He is never saying what she says he is saying, and he patiently explains why. It is riveting. I don’t agree with those who say that Cathy Newman is being nasty. There is a moment when Peterson catches her out about what it is to be ‘offensive’ and cries ‘Gotcha!’: she charmingly admits she is flummoxed. Her problem is rather that she is in thrall to certain received ideas and therefore literally cannot understand Peterson. Auden ends his great poem on the death of W.B. Yeats with the lines ‘In the prison of his days/ Teach the free man how to praise.’ Jordan Peterson is that free man. Poor Cathy Newman is the prisoner of the age.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes, in this week’s Spectator