GB News launched this week and I was slow to the wake, sorry, party. This is Andrew Neil’s anti-woke crusade, a whole TV station conjured out of nothing to answer a problem invented by Neil and others.
You can’t switch on the BBC without falling over left-wing propaganda, they say. The news is ‘woke’, they say.
If this seems a stretch as the basis for a TV news station, the same logic lies behind the government’s obsessive culture war spats. They create rows about imaginary nothings so that we don’t spot the real somethings being slipped under our noses.
Anyway, I had the ironing to do so I switched on the Great British Breakfast on GB News. One dip is not a thorough exercise, but have you seen this station? It’s a news channel that doesn’t contain news. News is what all those biased TV stations everywhere rattle on about, with their insistence of reporting things.
Almost no news arose in the time it took to iron a pile of T-shirts and one shirt. Three presenters peered out of the digital mists, sitting in a studio where a few hundred quid were clearly well spent. Everything looks cheap and the picture quality is dreadful. Or maybe that’s the patriotic vision, taking us back to when good old British TV sent pictures through a snowstorm.
The ‘news’ included a running discussion about working from home and another on how the hospitality industry was coping, with reporters beaming in from the far side of the moon, or Newcastle and Huddersfield. Gosh, wherever all that money went, it cannot have been on the technology.
A clip was shown of Andrew Neil interviewing chancellor Rishi Sunak in a studio found in the back of a skip somewhere. Neil is an old lion of an interviewer, but here he seemed to be in the wrong cage.
Then up popped Neil Oliver in a short segment called Not The Front Pages. No, GB News doesn’t want those because they contain actual news. As it happens, most of the front pages featured the latest lacerations of Dominic Cummings, including the allegation that Boris Johnson called health secretary Matt Hancock “totally fucking hopeless”.
As the Daily Star, of all the papers, put it so succinctly this morning: “Hopeless bloke says hopeless bloke is hopeless, says hopeless bloke.”
This formulation clearly has more than one use: “Mendacious man says mendacious man is mendacious, says mendacious man…”
Oliver wasn’t bothered by that hot topic, preferring to prattle about working from home, while also puffing his new Saturday show. Oliver used to be that Scottish bloke with the long hair on the BBC’s Coast programme; now he’s re-invented himself as that long-haired Scottish bloke from Coast who is now a right-wing rant merchant.
You only had to switch over to BBC or ITV to be see how terrible GB News looked. Running a TV news station needs more than an anti-woke obsession. It needs, you know, news. And cameras that work. And presenters who are worth watching.
Oh, I forgot another bit of ‘news’ covered. It was that hot topic of the moment: was Enid Blyton a bit of a racist, as exclusively bored on about by the Daily Telegraph? No conclusions were reached, and the ironing was done.
WE are in the car, returning from dropping off birthday presents for our eldest son. Our daughter and visiting middle son are in the back, overhearing me discuss whether 9pm is too late for the evening coffee, what with my terrible insomniac tendencies. I say that nothing seems to make a difference, so I may as well have that coffee. “Dad bingo!” cry the siblings on the backseat. My daughter had guessed exactly what I’d say, and I said it.
How awful it is to be quite so predictable.