Monday, 3 July 2017

What larks! (Or Whoops Apocalypse!)

When I was a kid I used to watch wrestling on ITV's World of Sport at 4 o'clock every Saturday afternoon with my gran, just before tea.

Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Mick McManus, John Prescott, Pat Roach, Bad (later Beautiful) Bobby Barnes, Kendo Nagasaki, etc.

Great names, great sportsmen. Some were good guys, some were bad guys.

My gran loved it. I loved it. We shouted at the TV. We cheered. We booed.

Big Daddy, the nicest of all the nice guys, was obviously the greatest. Why? Partly because he just was, and partly because he always won - and you can't argue with results.

And then one dark day my dad came into my gran's room, with me and her agog at the TV, and said, 'It's not real, you know? It's all kidology'.

Those terrible words are branded into my memory.

Of course, the Americans then got in on the act and made it even bigger - bigger even than Big Daddy.

WWE's World Wildlife Fund Superstars of Wrestling became massive in America, with stars like Dwayne the Rock, Hunk Hogan, Ace Ventura, 'Stone Cold' Lee Majors, Cyndi Lauper, etc.

Had he ever watched it my dad would have said that was all kidology too.

And, looking back, I now realise that my dad had a point all along. (Don't tell him though or I'll never hear the end of it). In fact, it turns out that he was 100% right (as so often). It wasn't real. It was fantasy, fakery, fun. Who knew?

(I also recently got some bad news about Father Christmas and the 2017 Labour manifesto).

One memorable piece of fantasy, fakery, fun came in 2007 with 'The Battle of the Billionaires' where some guy called Donald Trump was one of the battling billionaires and the other was WWE's main owner Vince McMahon.

In one memorable scene outside the ring Mr Trump bodyslammed into Mr McMahon and began punching him and yet, oddly, no one seemed triggered or traumatised by such an outrageous act of violence, nor did the police intervene to arrest Donald Trump - despite there being millions of witnesses to the assault....

....Oh yes, sorry Dad, I'm doing it again. Of course. It was pretend violence, acting, entertainment, fun. And none the worse for that.

Fast forward ten years and someone created a GIF of this scene and superimposed the logo of Donald Trump's least favourite news organisation CNN onto the head of the WWE boss. And Donald Trump, now known as President Trump, then tweeted the GIF. And the world responded.

And the world's response? Well, as far as I can see, it's been polarised along a pretty clear spectrum, moving roughly from those who most support Donald Trump through to those who most oppose him:

First come those who just loved it, finding it funny. Then come those who found it childish and said that tweets of this kind demean the dignity of the presidential office. And finally come those who found it absolutely appalling and who said it encourages violence against journalists.

Now on that spectrum I would place myself somewhere between the first group and the second group. To me it's just a joke, a silly joke, a harmless silly joke, quite funny, but a joke I'd probably prefer US presidents not to tweet. Decorum please, Mr President! (Call be old-fashioned and un-modern in that respect if you like).

The reaction of BBC journalists to this story has been really quite something though. And they've (predictably) been much, much further towards the third group. And some have been fully in the third group. Detached amusement and bemusement hasn't been the hallmark of their response.

The tweet story was the top story on he BBC News website's home page for many hours yesterday - the most important story in the world.

And our old friend DB has chronicled a whole host of hyperventilating BBC types on Twitter yesterday venting their BBC impartiality about the story in the usual way. 

There was the BBC's Imogen Foulkes tweeting, "Seriously? THIS is a president?" 

And the BBC's Washington News Editor Pratiksha Ghildial reacted by tweeting, "Finger on the nuclear button y'all. Happy Independence Day weekend!"....a prime example of the type of person the Spectator's Damian Thompson meant when he tweeted, "Honestly. @realDonaldTrump takes the piss out of his media critics and they run around screaming that he's going to nuke us all." 

And here's BBC Newsbeat journalist Del Crookes sounding off: "Is the US president ill? And shouldn't he be running a country?" [I think he meant to say, "And should he be running a country?"]

And here's the famous BBC Hillary-groupie Kim Ghattas having her say (and firmly taking up the 'provoking violence against journalists' theme): "At this rate, it'll be safer to cover wars in the Middle East."

John Simpson, having finally got the hang of Twitter, naturally chipped in too: "The pictures of @realDonaldTrump wrestling 'CNN' are disturbingly weird. No US president has behaved like this before. It's beyond bizarre."

Jon Sopel, the BBC's North America Editor, tweeted, "Is this normal?" 

And, of course, Katty Kay (the face of the BBC in the US) went even further - though not on Twitter. 

Here she is being shown up on on the impartiality front by her NBC host on Meet the Press. Katty being Katty, she's taking the hardest of hard lines against President Trump here, emphatically stating that the President had "condoned or encouraged or promoted violence" here. "THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HE HAS JUST DONE", she asserted (impartially):

(She didn't reply to Chuck).

Meanwhile, over at The Times ol' Justin Webb has been giving us the benefit of his wisdom on such matters. His take on the "bizarre" wresting tweet about CNN is that it it forms part of a pattern of behaviour on the President's part - a pattern he openly describes as "something approaching derangement". That's nice. 

Now it hasn't all gone one way. Over at Biased BBC AsISeeIt (in his usual stylishly witty way) noted that one of the BBC drones had revolted. 'The Only Christian in the Village' Dan Walker on BBC Breakfast had suggested that Donald Trump's critics had had "a sense of humour failure". Having not seen it, I looked it up on TV Eyes, and here's the exchange. (It makes for a wonderful script. I wish I was gifted enough to have imagined it.) Look out for Louise Minchin taking my childhood naivety and bringing it right into full adulthood when it comes to wrestling:
Louise Minchin: I think people are divided on this. We're slightly divided, aren't we?
Dan Walker: I just think...
Louise Minchin: Gently divided.
Dan Walker: I'm not sure I'm saying it's a brilliant video...
Louise Minchin: No.
Dan Walker: I'm just saying it's...People seem to be taking great offence, when I think there's an element of sense of humour failure from some people who are offended by that but they're not offended by a comedian who held up a decapitated head of the President.
Louise Minchin: Well, there you go. So feel free to get in touch, tell us what you think. I personally...I don't watch a lot of wrestling, so for me, you know, I didn't know that it was all heavily scripted and all the rest of it. To me it looks quite violent.
Dan Walker: But still...exactly, and you can see there is clearly sort of violence in the video and you can see why people could look at that and think I can't believe that a President - let's not forget, a President - has actually tweeted that from his presidential account, and it was re- tweeted from the official Potus account as well.
Following on from that B-BBC comment though, Roland Deschain commented, "Yes, but did they discuss WHY Trump is taking the piss out of CNN? Because I’ve yet to hear anything on British media about the admission that their Russia story was made up. Seems to me the media protecting their own." 

Well, neither have I. Indeed, until I read RD's comment, I'd not even heard about that. 

And yet there is a BBC website report about three CNN reporters having to resign after a Trump-Russia story went seriously awry (in the direction of FAKE NEWS). It was published on 27 June and yet, despite having kept a fairly careful eye on the BBC website's home page, I never saw it. 

Did it ever make it on the BBC News's homepage? Or was it one of those stories that appeared on the BBC's US & Canada page and then faded away quickly? 

I can be more confident about BBC TV and radio. A search on TV Eyes for the word 'Scaramucci' (the Trump ally who CNN posted the FAKE NEWS about), brings up nothing whatsoever. Why?

Anyhow, that's enough of that. Over to Kent Walton....

Update: Talking of Katty Kay, the Alliterative One was also on Crazy Joe and Dumb as a Rock Mika's MSNBC show yesterday where she said, "If you take just in isolation that whatever 15 seconds, it’s hard not to see somebody punching somebody in the face". Unfortunately, Katty then went on to say, "It really looks like America has gone off the reservation in some ways", which landed her in trouble with the PC language police:


  1. The consensus over here is that wrestling is fake. So is their outrage. After Obama saying "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun", all the violence of the Occupy movement denied by the BBC, but the BBC kept trying to portray the Tea Party movement as potentially violent, all the violence by BLM (again justified by the BBC), and the staring at the floor and shuffling of feet after all the openly violent anti-Trump rhetoric from celebrities (including the Julius Caesar play), the only thing that needs to be said is that the BBC is full of massive, intellectually dishonest hypocrites.

  2. Where were all these sensitive BBC flowers when celebs like Madonna, and others have called for or fantasised about real violent acts against Trump or his administration?

    And how many expressed any horror that it should be a Brit, radicalised possibly by the BBC or the Guardian, who felt Trump was such a threat to civilisation that he went to the USA to try and possibly kill least he tried to wrestle a gun off an officer protecting Trump, although he may not have been charged with an assassination attempt, still it was a major act of violence.

    As for UK wrestling, Mick McManus was my favourite, although not the crowd's as the old ladies often attacked him with their umbrellas.

    1. My gran would have given Mick a good whack with her umbrella if she'd got a chance.

  3. The wrestling analogy has a lot of milage. The audience knows it is fake, but somehow get caught up in it and lose all sense of rationality. Exactly the same process was at work when Jeremy Corbyn told his supporters that the Grenfell Tower fire was a deliberate attack on poor people.

    In fact the analogy could be applied to a great deal of BBC output. It would certainly explain the mystery of QT audiences. Are they really so different from the umbrella wielding matriarchs at wresting matches. You may have stumbled upon something brilliant.

  4. Teachable moment for Katty? Who doesn't know what 'off the reservation' means? Eejit.

    For the Project Veritas videos exposing CNN (footage from other news organisations is coming, apparently):

    Veritas also filmed members of the DNC last year which resulted in resignations. This was also ignored by the BBC at the time.

    An interesting chat between Stefan Molyneux and James O'Keefe who is currently doing the rounds on the alternative media sites :

    1. Katty Kay shouldn't have been giving opinion in the first place.

    2. I don't really care about the expression of opinion. I do however care about the expression of opinion based on the elimination of large chunks of fact, especially when the supposed opinion holder knows those facts and chooses to ignore them then bypass them and express themselves in a fit of faux outrage - for whatever reason.

      Essentially, that's the kern of the problem I have with the BBC. As an entity, it's not simply biased, or guilty of bending the truth. It's
      demonstrably guilty of lying. It's a shame and it's dangerous.