I just spent a week in the UK and was anxious to observe the political mood of the Brits. I expected their focus to be on Brexit, their new prime minister Theresa May, the impact of immigration in the UK, the pound vs. the euro – you know, British stuff.
After a long red-eye flight, and suffering a butt-dragging case of jet lag that first evening, my son and I had an early dinner and retired to our hotel room. We soon learned that British television is abysmal – mostly old American reruns and effete comedy that’s just not funny. But that’s okay, we are both news junkies, so I switched to BBC News.
To my surprise, every minute of programming on the Beeb was a non-stop assault on Donald Trump. There was no balance, no “other side”, no pretense of fairness or even any attempt at honesty. And no non-Trump news at all.
So I switched to the other news network, SkyNews. It was worse! Nothing but unbridled, hair-on-fire, heads-exploding, cobra venom spit in the eyes of Donald Trump and all the Americans who chose him to be their president. MSNBC is Mister Rogers compared to British television news. And nothing changed for the entire week of our visit. Both networks ran anti-Trump propaganda full-time, 24/7. Only passing mention was given to the fact that Parliament was engaged in a pretty significant discussion about whether they would honor the people’s vote for Brexit. The newspapers (which are free and stacked up on street corners every evening) were also fixated on all things American, with only a smattering of local news.
We were given a warm welcome in the pubs and at the football (soccer) games. Like us, British guys love beer, football, and politics and are ready to discuss all of the above, especially with a couple of Yanks. They were very curious about the Trump phenomenon, and were surprisingly up-to-speed on American politics. But then, why wouldn’t they be? That’s all they get on their news networks.
I was surprised to find that most of the Brits we met were on the conservative side, despite their hard-left news media. They understand our “drain the swamp” revolution and see parallels with their own Brexit experience. But some can’t get past our new president’s persona.
“I agree with everything that Trump is doing,” said one new friend over a couple of pints. “But I can’t support him because he hates women.” When I pressed him about what that meant, he said he just can’t tolerate a president who goes around grabbing women by the pussy. Groan.
Another conservative limey said he agrees with American conservatives right down the line, with one big exception. “Why do you all think you need guns? Your crime rate is terrible.” I had to explain that’s why we need guns.
Like American lefties, British liberals love to protest. They even feel compelled to protest about an election that took place 3,500 miles across the pond. There are subtle differences, though. Left-wing British protesters don’t break windows and start fires, and left-wing American protesters don’t give a rat’s patootie about who is elected on the other side of the planet.
I left my British friends with this advice: don’t believe what you see and hear on the television! I guess the same advice would serve us Americans well, too.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
We don’t believe what’s on TV
Because it’s what we want to see
And what we want we know we can’t believe
We have all learned to kill our dreams
We Don’t Believe What’s On TV – Twenty One Pilots
This fun young duo is filling venues all over on their US tour and were nominated for three Grammy awards. Check ’em out!