About Brian the Rhetaur

I help people become speakers.

Adam Andrzejewski needs to be heard

In March 2020 Hillsdale College held a National Leadership Seminar in Naples, Florida. One of the speakers was Adam Andrzejewski delivering a talk entitled “The Depth of the Swamp“. It’s an appropriate title for a speech from someone who has published a book called Operation Drain the Swamp.

Pretty well everywhere you look for information about this man, you find a pronunciation guide to his name. They vary, but “And-G-F-ski” seems to be one of the leading candidates. It reminds me of decades ago when I was preparing a radio interview with the conductor, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and telephoned a friend for pronunciation guidance. He said, “Roger-Svensky, but everyone calls him Noddy”. We Western Europeans are useless when it comes to pronouncing names originating east of Vienna.

Once again the introduction is by politics lecturer, Timothy Caspar, and Andrzejewski arrives at the lectern at 1:50.

His speech is truly, and deliberately, shocking. He firehoses at the audience a stream of data that amounts to horrendous financial corruption in several layers of the US government, a gold-plated gravy-train. If I were an American I’d go straight out to buy his book to learn more, but …

There is something that bothers me about Andrzejewski’s delivery, particularly during the early part of the speech, and it’s quite difficult to explain. He delivers hard and fast, but then he gives the impression of being one who drives himself hard and fast. He is obviously highly intelligent, and the facts, figures and sundry data pour out of him in a torrent. So far – you may think – so good.

Except the audience isn’t quite responding in the way it is evidently intended to. There are punchlines in abundance, some humorous most not but all of them worthy of serious note, yet his pause for reaction is each time a disappointment. My rule for trainees is never to pause on a punchline until and unless the audience forces a pause on you. He would do well to observe that rule.

Also there are ‘seizure points’, moments of brief silence when there shouldn’t be. These are not pauses for dramatic effect: they are random, sometimes mid-sentence. If he were reading a script (which he isn’t) they would be times when he lost his place. That is how they sound.

Briefly I wondered whether he had learnt this entire speech as a script, and those seizure points were momentary lapses of memory, but various signs caused me to abandon that theory.

I now have another theory, on which I could easily be way off the mark, but I’ll float it anyway.

Having written his book, and I’m prepared to bet that it is even punchier than this speech, he decided to go out and speak the same messages. The way to do that, he reasoned, was simply to broadcast his written material orally. To adjust for the different medium he would inject the speaking with bags of personality and vocal modulation. He would strive to avoid things that most public speaking coaches (though not this one) criticise, like “um” and “er” – and thereby all that would surely work.

It’s a logical assumption, and I don’t blame him if he made it, but a relationship with an audience is more nuanced and takes subtler building.

I suspect that he gets plenty of invitations to speak because his message is dynamite, so he could find his public voice and its optimum style by trial and error. That can be a painful apprenticeship, but he doesn’t strike me as a quitter. By the end of this speech his audience relationship had improved markedly, but it still wasn’t ideal.

At any rate I wish him well because people need to hear him.

Larry Arnn teaches

On 19 February this year in Phoenix, Arizona, there was a National Leadership Seminar held by Hillsdale College.

Regular readers might roll their eyes and moan “Hillsdale again?” to which my reply is that if anyone would be so kind as to show me other places where live people were delivering live speeches in the flesh to live audiences these days, I’d be glad to explore those also. In the meantime I shall continue to mine this seam.

Today’s subject is one I have been craving to examine, because he comes as close as anyone to personifying Hillsdale College. He would probably deny that because he seems to be a Primus Inter Pares character, but as President of Hillsdale College he appears to have imprinted it with his own personality. He is Larry P. Arnn.

In several recent postings on this blog he has introduced speakers with a brilliance which kindled my interest, and then recently that kindling was inflamed when I happened upon this interview with him from about four years ago. I commend it.

But for now I am looking at this speech…

I’ve seen Timothy Caspar introducing before, because he is a Hillsdale lecturer of politics, and on the other occasions he read his introduction. Introductions are often read, not just because they are full of important biographical data but because it is a wise policy to ask speakers to write their own introduction. That way the speaker sets his own starting blocks as he wants them, is responsible for accuracy and relevance, and the introducer is saved an invidious task. On this occasion however Caspar is introducing a long-standing colleague and friend, is mostly shooting his own reminiscences from the hip, and doing it well. Why, you may ask, is he then periodically looking down at the lectern? My considered answer is that this is mainly comfort-habit.

Arnn kicks off with a photograph of his grand-daughter. Don’t you hate people who do that? I am skilled at oh-so-subtly flashing the wallpaper picture on my phone, showing surprise that anyone spotted it and then basking in the doting chorus of “aah!”.

This speech was delivered three days before I published this post, and Arnn begins with recalling his friendship with the same deceased subject. You may assume that to be a self-indulgent, mawkish diversion from what he is there to say. If so, you haven’t heard it yet. In that segment he teaches us more about the ethos of Hillsdale College and its approach to education than a brochure could ever tell you.

[At 14:54 he unwittingly sent a personal message to me. I had been surprised and a little disappointed that he had looked down at his lectern quite often, especially in the early part of the talk. Was he regularly and unnecessarily consulting his notes, or was this also a habit? At 14:54 he gave me the answer: it was habit. I knew that because now when he consulted his notes to see if he had missed anything he looked down through his spectacles – which he hadn’t done before.]

At 18:25 he turns to what he calls ‘the bad stuff’, and so begins an analysis of the way the USA was designed to be governed and how that design has become corrupted. With a few minor adjustments he could be talking about the UK, and even when the technicalities are US-specific it’s still interesting, so the lesson is absorbing even for this Brit. I summarise what I learnt in the fault stemming from ignorance. Unscrupulous people have got away with crimes because those who could have stopped them were ignorant of their power to do so. Therefore everything goes back to education and its failings (or deliberate infantilisation of students), and we all see that happening on this side of the Atlantic also.

In his introduction Timothy Caspar described Arnn as “always teaching”. Ain’t that the truth! – this speech is evidence. Part of ‘always teaching’ is always learning, constantly seeking out more to study. Caspar also told us that Arnn was a student of the life and work of Winston Churchill, and for the final section of this speech Arnn turns to him. Suddenly I, an Englishman, am being told by an American a story about Churchill that I didn’t know.

What a magnificent closing!

Nick Hudson disentangles

BizNews held their Inaugural Investment Conference on 18 March this year. The conference was addressed by Nick Hudson, Chairman of PANDA.

The introduction is delivered by Alec Hogg, founder and publisher of BizNews and self-described “disruptive media entrepreneur”.

My trainees, and indeed readers of my book, The Face & Tripod will spot that Hogg has Something to Say in addition to merely telling us about Nick Hudson. He also shoots it from the hip. So far so good, except he is popping his microphone. This is partly his fault inasmuch as he is speaking too directly into the mic, but also he needs to be advised that these days there are microphones that are virtually pop-proof.

Hudson is heard speaking at 1:57, about five seconds before he is faded in on the video. It’s an unusual and appealing production detail which I applaud, but it also prompts me to make a less complimentary comment concerning the staging of this talk. I have already criticised the lectern microphone (or at least its use); I now must say something about the stage lighting.

Hudson is a pacer. He likes to pace to and fro while he speaks, and I have no quarrel with that. I have found over the years that there are people who are simply better at thinking on their feet if those feet happen to be moving. The trouble here is that this makes him go in and out of the stage lighting. Actors and professional speakers learn to love their light and stay within it, and Hudson could do the same, but why should he? He is expert in his own speciality and is entitled to think that those staging this conference are expert in theirs.

The solution is not completely straightforward. There are illuminated screens on that stage whose distinctiveness could be faded if the whole stage was covered with a bright wash of light, and that would be regrettable, but lighting people are good at getting around this sort of issue. I suspect that what went wrong was that they didn’t know that Hudson would be a pacer. A technical rehearsal would have told them.

I’m being very picky here but, as I have said often enough on this blog, the better they are the pickier I get. That creative bit of editing that caused Hudson to be seen in this video after he was first heard signifies a conscientious production team, so I bet they were tearing their hair out over the lighting – but by then it was too late. It didn’t make me tear my hair, it was just something I noticed.

The reason for my equanimity is that the speech itself is so refreshing. Those like me who are bloody-minded enough to be dissatisfied with the ghastly uniform mush that is spewed out by the media, and take the trouble to seek out the actual data for ourselves, will have few surprises in Hudson’s general gist: the surprise is in his being allowed to say it and our being able to hear it through the censoring stranglehold that grips all news these days. This video has of course been taken off YouTube because, his being an actuary and therefore highly skilled at disentangling such matters, he has brought all our suspicions into ultra-high focus and crushed most of the lies we have been told.

When will people get it through their heads that by silencing, or attempting to silence, a contrary opinion they weaken their own credibility? The truth will eventually come out; they must know the truth will come out; the most worrying thing is that they might be attempting to achieve something else first (it’s a familiar pattern). If that something else depends on the temporary preservation of a pack of lies it doesn’t say anything encouraging about the nature of that something else.

Trey Gowdy spellbinds

There is a small group of people whose speeches I go out of my way to watch, whether or not I plan to cover them in this blog. In fact they all tend to have been here often enough for me to feel guilty about the self-indulgence of taking time watching them at all. Trey Gowdy is one such. When he was a US Congressman I saw many stunning speeches, and critiqued three of them – here, here and here. Then he retired from Congress and I occasionally saw him interviewed, but what speeches he may have made seemed not to appear on line.

Then I saw this one, new and not a political speech. Not expecting to cover it here, I went and watched. I have now watched it several times and will watch it more. He is seen delivering a talk at the Second Baptist Church, Houston at the end of June 2020.

The church is led by Dr Ed Young who delivers the introduction. He describes Gowdy as a ‘gifted communicator’ and even if I’d never heard of Gowdy I’d be interested because when it comes to speaking Dr Young is himself no slouch. Shooting from the hip, which immediately labels him a proper speaker, he speaks with respect, warmth and humour. Also there are technical details like his measured rhythm, his timing, and the way he speaks through a smattering of applause.

At 4:45 Gowdy goes to the lectern and places upon it a few sheets of paper whose function seems to be only to keep the lectern warm, because I don’t think he looks at them till he folds them forty minutes later at the end.

He spends about seven minutes, opening with a humorous story. It’s a great joke, which I first heard with two of the personalities being Edward Heath and Harold Wilson – yep nearly fifty years ago. It is strong enough to withstand the passing of the years, but not perhaps to cross The Atlantic in this form. In the telling you need to include personalities and circumstances to which your audience can so easily relate that it has to be essentially parochial, an augmented in-joke. His audience loves it.

Seamlessly, at 11:50 he swings into his main theme with the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” This unmistakeable sentence from the Declaration of Independence, and Independence Day being only a few days away his theme is independence, personal independence. He addresses it from the standpoint of three factors, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Without doubt any trainee of mine will instantly recognise the value of that structure, how it makes speaking without notes for forty minutes really simple and how he can take the audience with him all the way.

But great communication is more than a neat structure. Gowdy injects a magical alchemy of personal reminiscence, literary allusion, masterful imagery, and thorough horse-sense wisdom, delivered with a superb instinct for measured pace. The occasional giant pause enables important points to sink in but is never so long as to lose his audience. He deploys humour with a formula of little-and-often and it is always delivered dead-pan and thrown away.

Elbert Hubbard is credited as having observed that –

The Highest Applause is Silence

Throughout this speech you could hear an ant licking its lips. The audience is spellbound, as am I. This forty minutes is a life lesson for anyone.

At 43:25 Dr Young reclaims the stage to summarise and conclude.

Clarence Thomas: danger of fawning

Situated as I am on the European side of the Pond, my information concerning the goings-on in the USA is rather hit-and-miss. I have long since ceased to trust anything at all about anywhere in the world that appears in the mainstream media, so I have sought out my own trusted sources which tend to focus on their own speciality subjects. Anything outside those subjects is therefore rather hazy. I had been only faintly aware of the existence of Clarence Thomas till one particular story brought him sharply into my focus.

I think it was in early 2015 when I saw a story about the building of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (it opened in September 2016). What caught my eye was – at that time at least, I don’t know about now – in the long list of great African Americans who would be celebrated therein was no mention of Clarence Thomas. This astonishing omission of a hugely distinguished black Supreme Court Justice made no sense till you reflected further.

He is a conservative, and extreme leftism is the Sola Fide of this time.

Now that I had him in focus I watched aghast as Created Equal, a biographical documentary about him in his own words was ‘cancelled’ by Amazon earlier this year. [Amazon does not yet have a monopoly on the internet.] Amazon continues to stock his book My Grandfather’s Son.

It is high time I explored one of his speeches, and of course I find it at Hillsdale College where he addressed a Commencement ceremony in May 2016.

Larry P. Arnn, President of Hillsdale College, introduces him. We have very recently seen him introducing others and, as before, I commend every word of the introduction wholeheartedly. You may rest assured that I plan to have a whole speech by him very soon. Justice Thomas begins speaking at 6:20.

I approached this speech, acutely aware of a danger. It is the same danger I faced in my years on the radio when interviewing people I admired. Fawning idolatry is tedious to the reader or listener. I was determined to try to avoid it. I should like to register my thanks to Thomas for providing something for me to criticise. He reads his speech.

You may think that an impudent or impertinent observation. Impudent I may allow, but impertinent it is not. It is a wonderful speech, as I expected, but would have been even better had he shot it from the hip.

It is very easy to understand why he wrote and then read it. In his line of business he has regularly to deliver considered judgements whose every syllable will be pored over by scholars through indefinite posterity. Obviously they have to be written and read. That has to be his modus operandi.

My modus operandi (spot the anadiplosis) on this blog is not so much to pick over each interesting detail as was my won’t in the early days, but to let the readers spot them for themselves. I deal in broader brushstrokes, sometimes highlighting a golden moment. Here is a platinum moment. It comes at 29:36.

Liberty is an antecedent of government, not a benefit from government

It’s a wonderful speech, and I actually do not for once care that he reads it. I’m fawning: I’ll stop.

P.S. (Added a few hours later) Lest it not be clear what I meant when I stated that Amazon has yet no monopoly on the internet, the hyperlink attached to that statement will take you to that documentary elsewhere. And I suggest that if you do so you will not regret it.

Billy Kosco gets off the bus

The congregation that gathered in St Henry’s Church, Buckeye, Arizona on Sunday 7 February most probably didn’t guess that they were shortly to be witness to a homily that would become a viral internet phenomenon.

Father Billy Kosco delivered something that has been viewed on numerous online platforms nearly one million times, and generated many thousands of comments – nearly all of them positive, in fact I gave up searching for a negative.

I tell my trainees that passion is worth bucketfuls of technique, in fact I have secret ways of proving it to them.

Other than that I have nothing to add.

Scott Atlas “friendly for a change”

In February Hillsdale College, which more and more not only supplies speeches for me to examine but also appears to be an oasis of sense in a desert of academic lunacy, hosted a talk by Dr Scott Atlas.

Dr Atlas is preceded by two introductions, or more accurately an introduction and a speech. The preliminary welcome and introduction is, I believe, from Timothy Caspar. It is clear and workmanlike, though read. He is followed at 1:55 by the President of the college, Larry P. Arnn.

I like this man. I like his style and approach, his banter with his colleagues and assistants, his apparent approach to running a college, and of course his relaxed through clear shooting-from-the-hip speaking style. I also happen to share his views on most things. All this is just as well because his introduction is a mini-speech, and not so mini being more than a quarter of an hour long. He doesn’t actually get to the matter of Dr Atlas till ten minutes in, but it doesn’t matter because what precedes that is so absorbing. And the actual introduction, when it comes, appears beautifully unorthodox till you realise it’s actually leading up to the presentation of an award.

Atlas begins at 18:45 and during his opening preamble he tells the audience “It’s great to be in a crowd that is friendly for a change”.

He is script-bound which I regret but understand. He almost certainly believes, as do many, that a script ensures that you tell your story more precisely and concisely; and that therefore it is safer. I don’t share that belief, but can understand that in his circumstances he has become seriously risk-averse. This is a man under persecution.

As his story unfolds his passion builds, first below the surface but eventually becoming overt. He is angry, and in danger of falling into a trap that we’ve met before… speak when you are angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret... and his story makes it very clear why he is angry. Nevertheless he keeps his passion in check enough to remain coherent while making it clear to us that he is accustomed to having this message resisted ferociously.

I’ve been around the block a few times – I believe I am officially classified as ‘elderly’ – and there are a few reliable guidelines I’ve learnt over the years. One of them is that when any government policy receives bipartisan support it will probably fail the sniff-test. A close relative of that, originally learnt in the school playground, is that when someone makes a statement and then refuses to argue it and instead resorts to name-calling it is a safe bet that they have no argument and are lying through their teeth. Combine those two guidelines, in fact reinforce mere name-calling with government edicts by mainstream-media-muscle and police activity, and you have something dangerous. We have seen such a scenario being acted out during this pandemic and this is exactly what Dr Atlas is describing.

It is a hugely important speech and warrants close attention. It ends at 43:45, and shortly before the end his demeanour relaxes as the friendliness of the audience cheers him. In his closing he actually pays tribute to precisely this.

The speech is followed by Q&A; and this is when he really relaxes, raises his eyes to the audience, is not one jot less coherent now that he is speaking spontaneously, and becomes even cheerful. One of the early questions enables him to explain that his last words of the speech, “Rise up!” did not mean street rebellion but applying electorate pressure to political and official representatives across the field from local to federal.

I commend the entire video.

Kristi Noem and the power of freedom.

Hillsdale College has featured on this blog in the past and, my having looked down their list of recent speakers, will undoubtedly feature again. Last October, they invited the Governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem to talk about Liberty and the Pandemic.

Since I first discovered this speech and had decided to critique it here, Noem has faced wide criticism for refusing to sign a bill that she had previously expressed herself “excited about”. This is a bill to prevent biological males from competing in women’s sports. Quite often this sort of story turns out to have involved a piece of proposed legislation that contained a political trap, so to learn more I found this short interview that you may want to watch.

For the moment though we are concentrating on this speech …

The introduction is made by Larry Arnn, the President of the college, and it is an exceedingly good one. Being himself a proper speaker he shoots it from the hip, includes some well-received humour including in-jokes that only his audience will fully understand, and makes him an excellent warm-up for the top of the bill. He includes one particular sentence which should belong in all treasuries of aphorisms “expert knowledge is narrow knowledge”.

Noem begins at 2:50, opening with some spontaneous personal observations. Being spontaneous they are shot from the hip, and being shot from the hip they are spontaneous. Here she is speaking at the top of her game. I use that phrase, “top of her game” not to highlight great oratory, because her delivery is relatively quiet and restrained, but because her sincerity is brilliantly transparent.

Shortly after the five-minute mark she swings into her prepared speech. Now her eyes periodically drop to the lectern. She’s using a script, or at least notes, and just a little of the edge comes off her game.

I used to join in an online group of speaking trainers, but I soon jumped out because it emerged that they all espoused the fallacy that a speaker has to have a script, and were not prepared even to listen to a contrary view. Regular readers of the blog know that I am fiercely of the opinion that paper reduces a speaker’s effectiveness, and that everyone is capable of throwing their paper away. They merely need to know how to structure their material to make paper redundant and also to have it proved to them that they can – and do – speak better without it.

Noem uses paper, but so well that its damage is very slight. She merely glances at it from time to time, making me feel that it’s there more as a comfort blanket than a source of material. How I wish she’d let me take it from her. She would learn the power of another type of freedom.

With all that this is a very fine speech. She uses a pleasing pattern of pretending that she, the audience, and the hall are all in South Dakota and that she is welcoming them. In fact her whole speech and her demeanour seem carry a warm welcome. It’s very effective.

Her speech finishes at 17:10 when she goes over to Q&A.

Sharyl Attkinson and hard evidence.

On 19 February Hillsdale College hosted a talk by Sharyl Attkinson. The talk was entitled Slanted Journalism and the 2020 Election. It is more than happenstance that in December she published a book called Slanted that currently boasts on Amazon a 5-star rating from nearly a thousand reviews. Five stars/ nearly a thousand/ three months: those, taken together, are three very sexy numbers. Let’s learn more.

They don’t give us the identity of the gentleman that introduces her. I have fished around and have a theory, but it’s not firm enough for me to commit to a name. Nevertheless I can say that it is a professionally delivered introduction. He reads it from a script, which is regrettable but understandable given the concentration of detail and not his subject. He has an attempt at humour via a dig at CNN, but in the absence of laughter (understandable so early in the proceedings) he adroitly throws the humour away. He’s good. He is also very tall, or Attkinson is very short, because while he towers above them the microphones almost hide Attkinson when she arrives to begin her speech at 1:30.

They later find her something to stand on, which is quite important given that she needs to see over the lectern to a slave-screen which displays to her the images being projected to the audience. She is too professional to crane around to look at the big screen herself: speakers who do that surrender a little of the audience’s focus each time.

So having established that he has many slides, let us also recognise that she has a script. These are both things that I generally deplore but I have to concede that her narrative route is a very tight one that would not easily forgive digression. (I sympathise, but her spontaneous answers during the Q&A are just as tight but now invigorated by the spontaneity.) Most importantly, her slides are not pretty pictures but hard evidence. Hard evidence is one of the prime thrusts of her message.

Hard journalism requires hard evidence. Without it, it ceases to be journalism but activism, cheap, sloppy propaganda. Attkinson’s case is that for several years evidence in U.S. political journalism has gone serially AWOL. The incidents she quotes, backed by hard evidence, are shaming; and she repeatedly points out that there are very many more in her book.

For my part I lay at the door of slanted journalism the blame for much of the stark political polarisation we see today. Readers or viewers who are uninterested or just too busy to probe further, will imbibe slanted or even mendacious reporting in the belief that it is true. Those who are less gullible, and take the trouble to drill to the raw data will be outraged by what the world is being fed, and will often over-react to compensate. Society then, rather than constructively reflecting and debating shades of grey, entrenches in black and white.

Journalists holding to the standards championed by Attkinson used to be the norm. They are now an endangered species.

Attkinson gives hard evidence.

Vladimir Pozner educates

Speeches – real life speeches in front of real life audiences – are beginning to reappear on line, though admittedly most were recorded prior to 2020.

I chanced upon a speech given at Yale in 2018, and I am glad of it. The speaker was Vladimir Pozner, and the speech was entitled How the United States Created Vladimir Putin. The video is nearly two hours long of which only 40 minutes is his speech, the rest being Q&A.

Spoiler alert! I was raptly absorbed by the entire thing, grateful to semi-retirement for making that possible.

I may have mislaid you slightly: the speech was merely 34 minutes long, the first six minutes of the video taken up by two introductions. My rhetor hat was redundant when Pozner spoke because he is so good and because what he had to say was much more interesting than any observations I might offer. Accordingly I shall unusually limit myself to critiquing the introductions.

Professor Douglas Rogers welcomed the audience, pointedly standing away from the lectern and speaking without notes. He filled his role very well. His default position for his hands (everyone should have one for those occasions when you have nothing else to do with them) was a fairly common one – clasping them loosely in front of himself. As a general rule this position looks most natural when your forearms are horizontal: hands too high looks as if you are pleading, too low looks as if you are in a free-kick wall in a soccer match. Rogers seems comfortable with his hands slightly higher than I would usually like, but these things are personal.

Professor Constantine Muravnik took over to deliver the speaker’s biography. He had notes, and unashamedly used them, because his material was obviously data-saturated, and he injected enough humour to make the speaker laugh out loud. He displayed more nerve symptoms than I would expect, but he handled them well. He made two introducers’ technical errors, both counter-intuitive. If the person you are introducing is behind you, don’t look around at them. It feels right but looks wrong. Muravnik did it only briefly so I wouldn’t have mentioned it except my rhetor hat is in danger of gathering dust. The worse error is in joining in with the applause at the end of the introduction. Again its feels right but not only looks wrong it sounds dreadful because you are doing it straight into your microphone.

Pozner begins at six minutes, and he is riveting! He covers half a century of the political and diplomatic relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, later Russia, and does it in a manner that I find spell-binding.

Objectively I like the balance that he applies to what he says. His French/Russian/American background seems to hold him between opinion camps. Actually, as he is regularly citing chapter and verse of incidents that he recounts, there seems little actual opinion in what he says – and when there is he declares it.

Subjectively I like his view concerning the respective peoples as distinct from their political and diplomatic representatives. The people seem more eager to get on with each other than their representatives seem able. There are telling examples of this at 13:00 and more tellingly at 36:50 when he quotes – of all people – Hermann Göring. I also share his lamenting of the plummeting standards of balance in the mainstream news media. Had this speech been made today I bet he would have bracketed Big Tech in his comments.

The speech ends at forty minutes, and he sits with the host to receive questions which, with their answers, last more than an hour. It is not that there are so many questions but that they are so searching. Most of the questioners at this U.S. university audience turn out to be either Russian or from Eastern Europe, and he seems delighted to field an informed interrogation. At 1:38:30 he gets to dig at the mainstream media in both nations, and 1:44:00 – shortly before the end – he gets questioned on a matter he has obviously expected, and in which I as a Brit have a particular interest. Only a few months earlier Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia had been poisoned in Salisbury, England. What he has to say about that is worth waiting for.