Ken Clarke is a seasoned campaigner and veteran of hundreds of television interviews, so it seemed odd that he would be caught out on camera in a television studio, with the microphone on, sharing candid opinions on the Tory leadership contenders. It was so odd in fact that some suggested he must have known what he was doing. But others questioned the ethics of Sky News for broadcasting the comments.
A fairly unscientific Twitter poll of over 1,000 Media Blog followers found 59% of respondents thought it unethical of Sky to show the clip. However, some said that hadn’t stopped them enjoying the clip and sharing it.
- See: Sky News defends broadcast of candid conversation between Ken Clarke and Sir Malcolm Rifkind on Tory leadership race
But Clarke knew he was in a television studio and he will have known producers, journalists and researchers were all within earshot, in the studio and in the gallery. At one point a member of crew appeared in shot next to Clarke (below), making it clear he could not have thought he was speaking alone in private with his colleague Malcolm Rifkind.
Clarke will know there is no such thing as "off the record", especially when you’re sat in a television studio. It is the first rule of media training and one Clarke was either recklessly ignoring or cheekily exploiting. I tend to think the former, coupled with a large measure of not really caring who overheard, is the likeliest explanation and certainly Clarke and Rifkind don't seem too perturbed.