James O'Brien (broadcaster)
O'Brien at the 2019 Chiswick Book Festival
James Edward O'Brien
13 January 1972
|Alma mater||London School of Economics|
|Occupation||Journalist, television/radio presenter|
|Known for||LBC, Newsnight|
James Edward O'Brien (born 13 January 1972) is an English radio presenter and podcaster. He is one of the presenters on talk station LBC, presenting on weekdays between 10 am and 1 pm, hosting a phone-in discussion of current affairs, views and real-life experiences. He hosted a weekly interview series with JOE titled Unfiltered with James O'Brien. He has previously occasionally presented Newsnight for the BBC.
O'Brien was adopted as a baby by Jim O’Brien, a journalist for The Daily Telegraph, and his wife. He was educated at the independent Ampleforth College and later read Philosophy & Economics at the London School of Economics.
Prior to his broadcasting career, O'Brien was an editor of the Daily Express gossip column written under the pseudonym William Hickey, and has had work published in Cosmopolitan and The Spectator. In 2015, he published a book on attitudes about immigration, Loathe Thy Neighbour.
On 1 November 2018 O'Brien published a book called How To Be Right... in a World gone Wrong in which he states his opinions on various matters of current affairs. The book reached fifth position in the Sunday Times Top 10 best sellers' list in December 2018.His second book, How Not to Be Wrong: The Art of Changing Your Mind was released on 22 October 2020.
With his wife, Lucy O'Brien (née McDonald), he fronted Channel 5's 2001 general election talk show 5 Talk, securing a review from Clive James, who wrote: "James, in particular, is a pink-shirted walking encyclopedia of political savvy".
O'Brien first appeared on LBC during 2002 as a holiday cover presenter. His own weekly programme began in January 2003 and he became a full-time presenter in 2004. Regular features of his show include the "Mystery Hour," in which listeners phone in with various things that puzzle them and other callers attempt to give a solution.
O'Brien made national headlines in April 2009 when footballer Frank Lampard phoned his show to object to tabloid stories about his private life and O'Brien's discussion of them. Lampard's former fiancée, Elen Rivas, had alleged that Frank Lampard had turned their home into a bachelor pad while she and Lampard's children were living in a rented flat. Lampard phoned in, objecting to the assertion that he was "weak" and "scum" and said that he had fought "tooth and nail" to keep his family together. Public comments on Lampard's reaction praised Lampard's "brave" and "articulate" handling of the situation. The exchange later earned O'Brien, who defended his conduct in an equally heated exchange with Kay Burley on Sky News, a Bronze Award in the Best Interview category of the 2010 Sony Radio Academy Awards.
In 2013, O'Brien clashed with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith in an argument over the Government's work programmes. In May 2014, O'Brien interviewed UKIP leader Nigel Farage. During the interview, O'Brien picked up on Farage's comment that he felt uncomfortable on a train at not being able to hear anyone speaking English. Farage was also criticised by O'Brien for misinterpreting having English as a second language as being unable to speak English at all and for saying he would be concerned if a group of Romanian men moved in next door to him. In October 2014, O'Brien breached broadcasting rules by his remarks during the Clacton by-election.
O'Brien has claimed to be politically homeless, being against the British Left such as the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn, but enjoys support from the liberal media of British politics e.g. the New Statesman and The Guardian. He enjoys the freedom that LBC gives him to express his views. O'Brien frequently discusses Brexit with callers who voted to leave the EU in the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, often claiming Leave voters had been deceived by the pro-Brexit campaigns to vote against their own interests.
O'Brien began occasionally guest presenting on the BBC Two programme Newsnight in August 2014. Following the widespread interest in O'Brien's interview with Farage, it was speculated[by whom?] he would be a permanent replacement for longtime host Jeremy Paxman, who intended to step down. The job was ultimately taken by Evan Davis. The Sun criticised O'Brien's presence on Newsnight, calling him a "professional leftie propagandist". O'Brien left Newsnight in January 2018 after being criticised for his anti-Brexit and anti-Trump views, which were felt to be out of step with the corporation's policy on neutrality. He departed on good terms, saying the BBC still had the finest selection of journalists in the world.
In October 2017, O'Brien began hosting a podcast at JOE.co.uk titled Unfiltered with James O'Brien, which ran until November 2018. Guests have included Russell Brand, Alastair Campbell, Lily Allen, Jon Ronson, Gary Lineker and Sir Nick Clegg.
A new podcast was started in March 2019 titled Full Disclosure with James O'Brien. The first guest to appear on the show was former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Other guests included David Mitchell, Lord Heseltine, Margaret Atwood and Michael Morpurgo.
O'Brien is an anti-Brexit campaigner and was part of the People's Vote campaign for a second Brexit referendum. He gave a speech at a People's Vote March "Put It to the People" on 23 March 2019 and at the People's Vote rally on 9 April 2019.
O'Brien is married to Lucy McDonald and has two daughters. Politically, O'Brien prefers to be described as 'liberal' rather than 'left-wing'. In terms of spirituality, O'Brien was raised in the Roman Catholic faith and refers to himself as a Christian.
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- O'Brien, James (27 April 2020). "I voted for Boris Johnson to be Mayor in 2008. (Obviously, I've changed my opinion of him since.) One cult tries to use this fact to claim that I must somehow still support him. The other cult has to ignore it to claim that I'd oppose & criticise him no matter what. Stupid cults". @mrjamesob. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
- Open Britain [@OpenBritain] (9 April 2019). ""Brexit is the will of the people who were lied too." WATCH: @mrjamesob brilliant speech at the #PeoplesVote rally today - please RT:" (Tweet). Retrieved 16 May 2019 – via Twitter.
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