It’s always good to see a new channel being launched, though the level of welcome depends on the quality.
GB News (more opinions than news actually), which launched last week, has been described as ‘right-leaning’ or ‘anti-woke’ and has been compared by its detractors to being like Fox News (I hope it isn’t!). One of its most high-profile movers and presenters is Andrew Neil – I’ve enjoyed his incisive interviews on BBC and now he takes up the 8pm slot on GB News, Monday-Thursday. On the Wednesday he gave a robust interview to British Chancellor Rishi Sunak but on Thursday gave an easy interview to Andrew Doyle, presenter of another GB News show Free Speech Nation. I share some of Mr Doyle’s concerns about wokeness but I’d like to see his ideas probed more thoroughly.
Darren McCaffrey has joined from Euronews to co-present the Great British Breakfast, though I find there are too many presenters on that show (likewise with Saturday Live). Another familiar face is Michelle Dewberry, formerly a regular on The Pledge (Sky News). You’d expect teething problems and the Gremlins obliged on her show Dewbs and Co (Monday) when the sound disappeared for Boris Johnson’s address when he announced the four-week extension to Covid-19 restrictions. They’ve been dogged by sound issues all week.
GB News inclines right-of-centre but not ‘far right’. For example, I was glad to see some presenters, including Mr Neil, castigating those anti-lockdown protestors that harassed BBC journalist Nick Watt and there were several messages supporting vaccines. It doesn’t help that there isn’t an ‘About’ section or mission statement on its website.
On that breakfast show Tuesday of last week there was an interview with former soccer manager Harry Redknapp. He broadly supported soccer teams ‘taking the knee’, one of the week’s controversies (there were diverse viewpoints on the gesture on Saturday Live), but wondered where it could go to now. Presenter Nana Akua wasn’t a fan of the gesture and thought it was becoming counterproductive. On that Dewbs and Co. show that lost sound the presenter was very clear that she wanted Covid-19 restrictions eased and was against the four-week delay. I prefer presenters to be neutral. More welcome, on Wednesday she covered the very important story of the over 700 sub-postmasters who were wrongly convicted of fraud when in the fact it was a computer error, and explored the issue of domestic violence on Friday.
On DePiero & Halligan, the midday show on the Monday, presenter Liam Halligan seemed supportive of Maya Forstater who had just won an appeal against dismissal because she expressed opinions to the effect that biological sex is real. The transgender activists took offence. Co-presenter Ms DePiero read out the negative reaction of the group that hadn’t renewed Ms Forester’s contract – the Centre for Global Development. On the Tonight Live show on the Wednesday night Laurence Fox (actor, of Lewis fame) described ‘wokery’ as a kind of religion and called it the ‘Unlightenment’. On the afternoon show Brazier and Muroki on Thursday the special guest was Brendan O’Neill of Spiked Online – king of anti-woke!
Very soon after the launch of GB News various companies started withdrawing their advertising. Some, like IKEA, were concerned that the ‘content’ might not align with their values. This was the same IKEA that was convicted in France during the week of spying on their employees…some values!
Instead of a right-leaning media and a left-leaning media I’d prefer media where the views of left, right or centre would be explored and interrogated with equal rigour. Maybe that day is gone.
Last week there was a small victory for fairness, objectivity and impartiality when the Broadcasting Authority upheld a complaint about Newstalk’s coverage of the repeal retrospective last December. The systemic bias was not challenged (one pro-lifer grilled v 3 pro-choicers affirmed) but the comments of presenters were found to be partisan. The relevant apologies are due for broadcast today, Thursday, but has anything changed?
The Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk, Friday) covered the ongoing controversy regarding the new National Maternity Hospital. Of course, it’s primarily about provision of abortion ‘services’. Once again there was a pally chat with Pat featuring the pro-choice Dr Peter Boylan. The Vatican, canon law, the ethos of the Religious Sisters of Charity were all discussed but with no-one to explain or defend those perspectives and no evidence of any effort to provide balance.
The pro-life perspective is consistently marginalised.
Pick of the week
EWTN Saturday June 26, (night) 12.30 am
Abortion is not just a religious issue. See how the faith community can work productively with atheist pro-life supporters.
Songs of Praise
BBC One Sunday June 27, 1.15 pm
Claire McCollum visits the beautiful and remote Scottish island of Iona, exploring how 1,500 years ago St Columba brought Christianity to Iona.
EWTN Sunday June 27, 9 pm
Courageous and innovative, Fr Pedro Poveda fought tirelessly against social injustices until the moment of his death at the onset of the Spanish Civil War.