George Osborne sent Chloe Smith, one of his Treasury ministers, to her political doom on Tuesday by putting her up against veteran interlocutor Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. Maybe the chancellor was washing his hair, or perhaps there was something the Osbornes had Sky Plused and the takeaway curry was already ordered. Whatever the reason, it was a humbling experience for Ms Smith, who got both barrels from Mr Paxman, squarely between the eyes.
It's one of those interviews that will be replayed over and over again, not least on media training courses run by people like me, showing how an interview can go horribly, horribly wrong. If you can bear to watch the video above (I suggest for the faint-hearted that behind the sofa, or at least through your fingers would be the appropriate pose), you will see an interviewee being torn into strips, then shredded again, and finally left a quivering wreck on a studio chair.
So what went wrong? Here are five things I noticed.
1) The Chancellor should have been the one in the chair. A u-turn on a major piece of Government policy, with cost implications of half a billion pounds is a big issue,. Big issues need big hitters.
2) Ms Smith should have been better prepared. She clearly had no idea how to respond to the most obvious questions. Whoever preps MPs at the Treasury for tricky interviews must have also gone missing last night.
3) There should have been a Government line that Ms Smith knew and stuck to. She was clearly discomfited by the simplest questions, such as "When were you told about this change of policy?"
4) The Government should have provided a briefing in advance with facts, figures and explanations. Ms Smith could simply have referred to that in her answer.
5) Someone needs to remind Ms Smith that the reason for doing an interview is to put up a strong case, not be on the defensive. Drivers and haulage companies will be delighted by the change of policy (There's a quote she should have used), and she should have made much more of the benefits, dismissing Paxman's jibes about process and timing.