I’m looking after my brother’s house and cat for a few days this week, and so getting a reminder of what TV is like. As far as I could see, it was mostly quiz shows, Celebrity Come Dancing, and something called the Great British Bake-Off, which I suppose is some sort of cooking competition. Nothing that I might want to watch.
I wondered if the news reports might be more interesting, and so watched BBC5 5 pm news. This led with a report on fixed-odds gambling machines, and how some people had lost everything to them. A middle-aged man said he’d contemplated suicide.
I vaguely wondered what was so newsworthy about this that it should be the lead item in the news, and wondered whether the main BBC1 6 pm news would lead on something more newsworthy. It didn’t. It had the same fixed-odds gambling story, and the same middle-aged man, who I’d begun to wonder might be an actor.
Then I watched Channel 4 news at 7 pm, wondering if they’d lead on the same story too. They didn’t. Instead they led on US reports that Paul Manafort, who’d once been Donald Trump’s campaign manager, had been indicted on charges of money laundering by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is supposed to be investigating Trump’s supposed links to Russia.
I was a bit puzzled that this story was leading on a British news channel. It’s been big “news” in the US mainstream media, and is actually a non-story, because the indictments relate to a period when Manafort was doing some work for someone in Ukraine about 10 years ago. It had nothing to do with Trump or Russia whatsoever, and the long report, which included a reporter breathlessly interviewing people with the White House in distant view, was honest enough to point out at the very end that the indictments didn’t mention either Trump or Russia.
The report didn’t mention the involvement of Tony Podesta in the same story. And Tony Podesta is the brother of John Podesta, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. So actually this story distantly involves both the Trump and Clinton campaigns. But you wouldn’t have known that from from the Channel 4 news report.
So as far as I could see, all the UK news channels were running “news” stories that weren’t really news at all, at least not for anyone in the UK. I wondered if it might have just been a slow news day, and so checked my brother’s newspaper this morning, to see whether it was going to report on the gambling machines and Paul Manafort as well. But its front page news was about multiple allegations of groping – and even rape – by UK politicians, including cabinet ministers. That was a much juicier story than gambling machines or Manafort. Why hadn’t BBC and Channel 4 led with that?
Also last night I watched a bit of Alex Jones on Infowars.com. And they had an even hotter story, which was that there had been multiple aircraft – most likely helicopters – involved in the Las Vegas shooting, with muzzle flashes seen in the sky, and armed men in the nearby airport. They were showing radar images of aircraft movements that night. They said that police, FBI, etc, still really had no idea exactly what had happened, but it had involved multiple shooters in multiple locations. And nobody had seen muzzle flashes coming from Stephen Paddock’s suite. Was Paddock a patsy, I found myself wondering.
I’ll be interested to see what BBC and Channel 4 news lead with tonight. Given last night’s showing, I suspect it’s going to be more non-news or fake news. And I wonder whether there is going to be anything other than quiz-cookery-dance shows the rest of the evening.
I can see why Alex Jones’ Infowars has acquired a big following: it’s much more interesting than anything else. It also carried a cartoon that pretty much suumarised what I’d been thinking:
The idea seems to be to keep the news focus on Trump, and away from anybody else (like Hillary Clinton). Quite why that policy should extend to the UK mainstream media, I don’t know.
And what about a few other stories that could have been lead news items. Such as: Did Hitler fake his death and if so, where did he go? Or: Madagascar plague is spreading because relatives are digging up their Black Death corpses and DANCING with them or maybe even: Suspect Identified In NYC Terror Attack That Left 8 Dead; Pled Allegiance To ISIS
There’s plenty to choose from.