Sunday, 29 January 2017

(Large) Snapshot

For a flavour of the BBC's output this morning (see above), here's a transcription of part of the BBC News Channel's mid-morning paper review, featuring author Matthew Green and Sunday Times journalist Sian Griffiths. BBC presenter Maxine Mawhinney's contributions are worth noting.

MAXINE MAWHINNEY: Hello and welcome to our look ahead to what the the papers will be will be bringing us today. With me are the journalist and author Matthew Green and the Education Editor of the Sunday Times, Sian Griffiths. Let's begin, and we're going to start with the Observer. All of the papers this morning reflecting on what Donald Trump has done.
MATTHEW GREEN: Indeed. America is clearly on the brink of a precipice. We're seeing paranoia and fear of the kind that accompanied the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. But what does this mean for Britain? We've seen Theresa May essentially cosying up to Trump in the hope that she might somehow provide some sort of a restraining influence, but we have seen that hope blown out of the water by what's happened over the last day with these thousands of refugees and migrants. And the Observer, with all credit to them, has laid it bare on the front page: Trump is ignorant, prejudiced and vicious in ways that no American leader has been. And I think Theresa May's refusal to join other European leaders condemning what' Trump is doing is a huge stain on her premiership and could be a defining moment for her.
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: Sian, a lot of the criticism of Theresa May has been the fact that she is letting America do what America wants to do rather than condemning it. Is she stuck between a rock and a hard place, if we were playing devil's advocate on this?
SIAN GRIFFITHS: Well, I suppose in a way she is because she very much wants to sign trade deals with America post-Brexit. She has come out this morning...her spokesman has said very clearly that Britain does not agree with Trump's stance.
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: But she didn't do it herself. That's what they're saying, isn't it?
SIAN GRIFFITHS: She didn't say it herself, but if you look at the papers this morning I think the Observer is the only paper that has splashed on this this morning. All credit to the Observer. They got quickly to this issue and they have seen how big it is going to be. But to be fair to her, she has come through this morning. She has made that statement. She's obviously saying if there are British citizens who are caught up in this through dual nationality, we will be looking to represent them. She's going to have difficulty, you're absolutely right, Matthew. Already this morning, members of her party are saying look, this is wrong, we don't agree it. Sarah Wollaston has come out. Ruth Davidson has said quite clearly that this is wrong. In fact we understand there is one Iraqi born Tory MP who may be banned from the States under this, under these new rules.
MATTHEW GREEN: We saw Theresa May at the press conference in Turkey ducking the question twice and then making this very weak statement about, essentially, it is America's business. We need a leader who is willing to stand up for democratic values. I'm afraid that Theresa May is failing that test. It's not good enough to issue still a very weakly worded statement saying we could not agree with what Donald Trump is doing. US newspapers are calling him a tinpot dictator. America, in the past week, has suffered its ugliest start to any republic in the history of the country. We need to be joining other Western leaders in standing up to this and not cravenly endorsing it.
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: It is a completely new era though in politics, isn't it, right across the world?
MATTHEW GREEN: It is, but has Theresa May grasped this? She is surrounded by these special advisers that the papers constantly talk about being incredibly formidable and intelligent, but maybe she should consult a psychologist, who would tell her that Donald Trump is suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. He is megalomaniacal, vainglorious, prejudiced, vengeful. We've seen it all clearly. It is totally obvious. It's not politics as usual and Theresa May needs to catch up with that.
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: Let's move on to the Sunday Times because it's not just the rest of the world he's fighting with, it's also Prince Charles! What's happened?
SIAN GRIFFITHS: This is a great story. Donald Trump seems to be engaged in an extraordinary diplomatic row with the Prince of Wales over climate change and is actually threatening to disrupt his forthcoming state visit to the UK". On the one hand you have Prince Charles, environmental campaigner. On the other hand, Donald Trump, who is a climate change denier. There are some amazing quotes in this story in the Sunday Times and I've just highlighted a few of them here. Apparently Trump's people are saying that he's really reluctant to meet Prince Charles and they have warned it would be counter-productive for Charles to "lecture Trump" on green issues and that Trump would erupt if he were pushed! On the other hand you have got Charles's people saying that he is determined to meet Donald Trump. It's not OK that Donald Trump's people are saying that he wants to meet William and Harry.
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: This is going to be a great visit, isn't it!
MATTHEW GREEN: Quite! This is Donald Trump who has tweeted about how, wouldn't anyone want to make money by tweeting topless photos of Kate Middleton... He has tweeted his desire..he would have slept with Princess Diana...I mean, why are we letting him into the country, quite frankly? And actually, I find the tone of the Sunday Times story really quite puzzling, as if Prince Charles is somehow...his advocacy on climate change is somehow problematic and is going to disrupt this visit. Let's face it, climate change is the threat to the future of organised life on Planet Earth. Donald Trump has gagged members of his government, scientists who are working on this and he has essentially confirmed that the Republican Party is now the most dangerous organisation on earth. So the idea that Prince Charles is somehow at fault here I think is wrong. We should be rallying around him and saying 'Come on! What direction are we taking the world in?'
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: We look forward to this visit, I have to say!

SIAN GRIFFITHS: I don't think at all the story says that Prince Charles is at fault here...
MATTHEW GREEN (interrupting): It implies that Prince Charles is somehow causing a problem to what otherwise would be a wonderful visit.
SIAN GRIFFITHS: No, I don't think that is the tone at all. I think it lays out the argument very clearly. And I think actually the straightforward reporting here...there's one paragraph that says that Trump has repeatedly branded climate change a 'hoax' and a 'moneymaking industry' and has said it was created by and for the Chinese to damage American industry. I think when you have that very straight reporting you think, "OK, you can make up your own mind."
MATTHEW GREEN: The story could have been written very differently. You've got "Senior government officials now believe Charles is one of the most serious risk factors for the visit". Prince Charles isn't the risk factor! Donald Trump is the risk factor!
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: Maybe he can tell Donald Trump all about climate change.
MATTHEW GREEN: I hope so and Donald Trump might possibly agree with him and tell him he's right, just like he did with Theresa May, and that's what narcissists do.
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: Alternative facts again! Here we go! We're going back to Theresa May and President Erdogan in Turkey and the trade deal for that. If we just move, just tidying up the desk here, there we go... So the viewers can see this one. A double page spread there. They "shake on trade deals despite fears over human rights". She's getting into a lot of trouble with holding hands and shaking hands over the last couple of days. Sian, what do you make of this one?
SIAN GRIFFITHS: Well, yes, so she has agreed a trade deal, or is preparing to agree a £100 million deal for fighter jets which could lead in fact to Britain becoming Turkey's main defence partner. But at the same time, she has given Erdogan a very clear warning on human rights at the same time. But again it is this need to find close trade and diplomatic links outside the EU in the wake of Brexit.
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: Again Matthew, it's this sense that the world order has changed. Have morals gone with it?
MATTHEW GREEN: It's musical chairs and, post-Brexit, we're out! Yeah, we never had any morals about selling arms. I mean, look at the billions of dollars we've sent to Saudi Arabia which is now being used to bomb civilians and hospitals in Yemen. So, yes, it's great that the Sunday Telegraph has flagged human rights concerns in the headline there but it obviously doesn't make any difference to British policy. Let's not be under any illusions. We're one of the biggest arms exporters in the world. Post-Brexit, as we walk away from the single market on our doorstep, we going to be even more reliant on selling weapons to anyone who will buy them.
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: I just want to show viewers this other picture on the corner here with the Trump hand-clasp. I've never heard his words before: bathmophobia. This one here. There you go. So apparently he's got a fear of slopes and that's why he was holding her hand!
SIAN GRIFFITHS: It's a wonderful story, isn't it. I think that word 'bathmophobia' is going to be one of the words of the year.
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: It's fantastic, isn't it?
SIAN GRIFFITHS: Because everyone is talking about this astonishing handshake...handclasp as they walk along the White House colonnade and is it a mark of special affection, but apparently it might just be that he's quite afraid of slopes and so he just gathered her hand to steady himself!
MAXINE MAWHINNEY: To get down the slope. They'll be having that slope taken out any moment! But he's also supposed to be afraid of touching people because of germs!
MATTHEW GREEN: I think that photo though will haunt Theresa May, won't it? What a disaster! I mean, the whole thing is so embarrassing. I don't know what the rest of the world must think of Britain right now. If you don't condemn authoritarianism, you become complicit in it and she is teaching us that lesson, unfortunately.

1 comment:

  1. What a lie about Trump's restrictions on EPA public statements. 'Alternative facts' indeed. Trump is skeptical about AGW, not the fact that the climate changes. The term 'climate-change denier' is a lie in itself, of course. Mawhinney enabling and condoning the whole thing. Sad!