A few weeks ago I had the UK TV licence authorities asked me whether I was watching live BBC TV at all. They come back every couple of years to ask this. And every time I tell them I don’t watch it. Because I don’t. I think the BBC is just a state propaganda outfit, like they used to have in East Germany. I wouldn’t want to watch that either. Anyway, here in England if you don’t watch BBC TV, you have to tell these people every couple of years that you’re still not watching it. Weird.
This time however, they added that even if I watched their catch-up iplayer service, I’d have to pay the £155/year licence fee. And I have been watching it on and off – usually old documentaries from way back when the BBC was pretty good. Anyway, I didn’t want to pay £155 just to watch a few documentaries. So now I don’t even watch anything on iplayer.
I think that next year they’ll probably be back and tell me that even if I watch Fox News on YouTube, I’ll have to pay the licence fee. Or maybe if I watch anything at all on YouTube. Or even if I read any news report from the BBC. Or if the letters “BBC” appear anywhere at any time. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
So what do I do instead? Well, I watch quite a lot of stuff on YouTube. But I’m also listening to US Talk Radio during the presidential campaign. I don’t listen to it live, because I think you have to pay to listen to it. But most of them have some sort of archive that allows you to either listen to or read transcripts of previous episodes.
The first one I found was Rush Limbaugh. He’s a conservative talk radio host who’s been broadcasting for something like 30 years. I seldom hear him speaking, but I’m a regular reader of the transcripts that appear on his website shortly after he’s been speaking (which is handy if I want to quote him in my blog). He comes across to me as quite thoughtful and analytical. He interprets the news he gets, and provides a narrative. He explains. And sometimes his explanations make a lot of sense. He says he never endorses any candidates, but it’s pretty clear that he’s rooting for Trump. He’s pretty unflappable, and he plays a lot of golf.
The second US talk radio host I came across was Mark Levin, who I occasionally listen to on his audio rewind. He’s not quite as analytical as Rush. And more heartfelt. In fact, he’s a bit of a ranter. More or less every one of his broadcasts produces a rant about something or other. He’s angry at what he sees going on around him. He’s an angry conservative. And he talks about principles a lot. He doesn’t think much of Donald Trump, because he doesn’t think Trump has got any Principles. Nevertheless, he recently said he was going to vote for Trump, because there was no way he was going to vote for Hillary. I’m still waiting to hear what his Principles are, however. I hate it when people talk about Principles, but don’t tell you what they are.
Just today, for the first time, I also listened to Michael Savage on Savage Nation, talking about the Pence-Kaine debate. This was a new experience. Michael Savage is very imaginative, almost poetic. And he lives up to his name quite well. He’s also pro-Trump.
And then there’s Alex Jones on Infowars. This is really (in my opinion) a doom TV website, fronted by the barrel-shaped, gruff-voiced Alex Jones. The perspective on Infowars is a constant: the end of the world is nigh, most likely tomorrow morning. It’s just that the cause of impending doom varies from week to week and month to month. And currently it’s Hillary Clinton who is the main threat to the continuation of life on earth. On Tuesday Infowars got burned when they stayed up all night to watch Wikileaks’ Julian Assange drop a bomb on Hillary Clinton from his hide-out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London – only to see Julian Assange drop absolutely nothing on Hillary, and leave them with egg all over their faces. So today they’ve switched to the impending WW3 between the USA and Russia. Alex Jones is also 100% behind Donald Trump, and Trump even appeared on the show a while back.
Before I started listening to them, I thought that these US conservatives would all be born-again Christians, and quoting from the Bible all the time. But in fact they’re not like that at all. At least none of the ones I’ve mentioned. And they all talk quite good sense, except when Infowars is peddling Male Vitality potions, or Mark Levin is pushing some product or other.
They’re all different – and yet they’re also fundamentally all the same. They’re all motormouths, and they all see Obama and the Clintons as subverting everything that America stands for, and they all think that the only hope for America is Donald Trump, if the election isn’t stolen, and he isn’t assassinated, and WW3 doesn’t start.
In addition I read DailyCaller, Redstatewatcher, Prisonplanet, Drudge Report, ZeroHedge, and the rather more sedate WorldNetDaily, Townhall, and Free Republic. I also occasionally dip into a few of the left wing websites that I used to regularly visit 10 years ago, back when I was a bit left wing, like Hullabaloo, DailyKos, and TalkingPointsMemo, antiwar, and Counterpunch, just so I can get some idea what the other side thinks. And for further abject terror there’s always Paul Craig Roberts, and for amusement Scott Adams.
And the impression I get is that America inhabits two separate, mutually-exclusive realities. One side sees Hillary Clinton as a benign figure who’ll continue Barack Obama’s benign policies, once she wins the presidency, as she inevitably will. The other side sees her as the incarnation of evil, and Donald Trump as the last best hope for America. Both sides regularly produce opinion polls showing their guy streets ahead. And when there’s a debate, both sides always see their guy as having comprehensively thrashed his/her opposite number.
At this stage in the race, it’s all just wall-to-wall noise. I have no idea what’s going on. But I continue to think – as I’ve thought all along – that Donald Trump is going to win in November.