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Breakfast with Nanny

I normally have to get into my office in London’s docklands financial centre of Canary Wharf at some ungodly hour in the morning, so I rarely get the chance to browse the news headlines on television or radio before rushing off for the Tube. But laid low with a nasty headcold this morning, I watched the BBC Breakfast television show for about 30 minutes. This is what I saw:

Item: The local council in Richmond, west London, is proposing to slap heavy parking taxes on people who own cars that are deemed ecologically incorrect (SUVs, etc). The programme interviewed a few bedraggled locals moaning about this, a retired TV personality who said it was a jolly good idea, and left it at that.

Item: A group of MPs want to ban sale of fireworks to ordinary citizens because loud bangs emitted by such things frighten animals and the elderly. We had a brief “debate” in the studio between a puritanical MP and an elderly lady who said what a shame it would be if fireworks were banned. No clear defence was made of the right for law-abiding people to have their fun. The safety-trumps-liberty issue was taken as a given.

Item: The pop star Madonna, who is trying to adopt a baby boy from the African nation of Malawi, has spoken of her anguish about this bureaucracy involved on the Opra Winfrey TV show in the US. This was deemed to be a news item worthy of the BBC’s attention.

Item: recycling of baby’s diapers.

Item: Litigation continues between ITN, the British television network, and the US authorities, over the death of ITN veteran broadcaster Terry Lloyd in Iraq about three years ago.

Item: BBC business journalist discusses how to avoid back injuries in the workplace. It is taken as given that companies must be forced to spend more money to ensure their staff are comfortable.

Now I think a trend is at work here. Many of the “news” items are pretty minor stuff, compared to the ongoing crackup in the Middle East, etc. They are relatively minor stories, what I would call “consumer journalism” stuff that typically used to be confined to daytime television and the dumber ends of the tabloid press. Maybe the producers figure that viewers are unable to digest anything more substantial at 7 in the morning and maybe they are right (but radio news and current affairs seems to have more gravitas, or at least it used to). However, the choice of subjects also reflect the current liberal/left intelligentsia’s obsession with bossing us around in order to protect the environment; they reflect a distinct strain of neo-puritanism (such as Richmond’s persecution of owners of big cars and bashing of fireworks), and an assumption that the child custody arrangements of a person, even a famous one like Madonna, are any of the State’s business.

Bring on Guy Fawke’s Night, is all I can say.

19 comments to Breakfast with Nanny

  • Brad

    We have much the same in the US, the soft left pap of the main stream media. They aren’t talking about nationalizing health or energy, but laying the ground work for more and more government and the inexorable growth of Statism. “The given” is huge bullet in the chamber of such folk. It makes for touting basic capitalism extremism in this day and age. “The given” spiel by good looking, well dressed, coffee (or tea?) drinking talking heads put forth maximum Statism that is so easily digestable for the masses. They are the establishment. And not a one can do basic math, or care to try.

  • Gordon Comstock

    You should check out Ken Livingstone’s personal paper “The Londoner” which has an article on the increased congestion charge on “Chelsea Tractors” as well as the extended congestion charge in Kensington and Chelsea.

    Tough on wealth and the symptoms of wealth. Resentful little commie that he is.

    (GC is a resident of Hammersmith and Fulham)

  • Andy

    I suggest you watch the evening news on BBC4, or More4. The weather forecast has isobars, people use correct language and the news items are concerned with the more pressing matters facing the world, instead of traffic, minor local issues and Madonna.

    Trouble is, most people are stupid and they love to hear about celebrities. They don’t care to hear news about politics, war, or anything of a serious nature.

    Worst of all, it seems that no-one is worried that the very high standards of broadcasting in this country are being eroded. The news is only one area. Consider Jonathan Ross who hosts a prime time tv programme on Friday night, and is paid a fortune to suck up to anyone famous who is plugging their latest book, record, film or TV show. It is one hour long commercial.

  • I had a go at picking a blog-sized hole in BBC’s Breakfast last year with the magazine http://www.makingthenews.org.uk.

    Unfortunately the possibility of satirizing rolling news is difficult because it’s increasingly ridiculous – we gave up on Making The News when the BBC started to produce Storyfix, a weekly pop-video digest which is cheerfully, competition-annihilatingly self-satirising.

  • James of England

    Like you imply, there is important stuff in a lot of these minor stories. I think the article that has annoyed me most in recent days was one in the Spectator saying that “In years to come, when we in the west have evolved a little, we will come to see cross-border adoption as we now view the slave trade.”

    I can just about wrap my head around the idea that adoption is similar to slavery, in philosophical essence, if not practically. Melissa Kite, though, was saying that domestic adoption was good! Logically, then, it seems that slavery with no international trade aspects was also good. She talks about Maddona being thoughtless for bringing a black child into a white neighbourhood.

    She asserts that Madonna must have thought about what life would be like if the situation was reversed, and that she must have come to the conclusion that she would rather not be adopted if the cost of a materially decent life was feeling abandoned by her natural family. In other words, that Madonna is deliberately and intentionally harming David Banda’s life.

    This kind of racism, malicious hostility toward the wealthy, and view of trade as evil (indeed, that the worse part of the slave trade was the trade bit) is relatively common in the papers of the hard left and makes the occasional appearance in the moderate left. I don’t think that Kite would have written an article blanketly condemning trade, promoting racial segregation, or… well, I guess she did write articles suggesting that Madonna would consciously choose to harm children. It is only when the article is “about” something else that the ugly prejudices are allowed to show through.

  • Heaven forbid that the masses have to think about what they’re watching. Who knows where that could lead.

  • I noticed that the BBC completely ignored the English Constitutional Convention that happened in London yesterday. It seemed to have slipped their minds in favour of whingeing Muslims (supported by Ken Livingstone) and bleating about Madonna.

  • We very much are concerned with trivialities when major moves are currently underway in the US to form a global division of NA and in Britain with ID cards and yet people are concerned about the froth.

  • RK Jones

    Speaking of nanny-state fearmongering, I saw a report last night on the negative economic effects of not enough hurricanes striking the U.S. Gulf Coast. Let me repeat that.
    I saw a news anchor for a major US television network bemoaning the lack of hurricanes to make landfall this year. WTF?

    RK Jones

  • Julian Taylor

    Having just moved to delightful LibDem Richmond I am now indeed sorely tempted to go out and buy a RangeRover, if only to tell parking wardens where to stick their increased charges although their proposal does seem a bit fanciful when one considers that just about everyone there seems to have off-street parking. I live in a private gated community so no parking charges anyway.

  • Midwesterner

    RK Jones,

    the negative economic effects of not enough hurricanes striking the U.S. Gulf Coast

    I saw the teaser for that but didn’t get to see the story. Absolutely incredible. Seriously, WTF? I’ve tried to imagine how they could reach that far to create a crisis to help get ratings, but I’m drawing blanks.

    Was there anything remotely approaching plausible in it?

    Somehow, I expect not.

  • Julie in Chicago

    “…choice of subjects also reflect the current liberal/left intelligentsia’s obsession with bossing us around in order to protect the environment.”

    No. You go too far; the obsession is with bossing us around, period. “To protect the environment” is an EXCUSE. We are in the future, and it is 1984.

  • Gordon Comstock: Tough on wealth and the symptoms of wealth. Resentful little commie that he is.

    Don’t you mean “Tough on weath, tough on the causes of weath”?

    That is another Gordon’s mantra, I believe. (no jab at you, GC, btw).

  • Naomi

    Lucky person to get BBC Breakfast time, living in Germany I am sentenced to BBC Prime and BBC World and frankly I never thought that anythng could be worse than CNN – wrong! BBC World is dumbed down, Middle East slanted news and the word ‘balance’ has been removed from their vocabulary. BBC Prime’s idea of good programming is to sentence one to back-toback programming (Top Gear 4 -8 times on a weekend- repeats, that is) Six episodes of Alan Partidge, 2 episodes of that diabolical programme “Angels’ – I mean, who in their right mind would think one would like to come home after a rather stressed day in the office and be faced with an hour(!) of screaming badly bhaved children and their ineffective parents – aaaarrggghhh. I am now trying to watch German TV instead.

  • The news seems to be nothing but stories about idiots calling for this or that idiotic measure, and interviews with other idiots who object for all the wrong idiotic reasons. I can barely watch it any more, it makes me so irate, and my girlfriend is disturbed by all the yelling.

    I like the format and tone of this post, though, Jonathan. Perhaps you could write one like it every day and then I can stop watching the news altogether. Also, if Brian and Perry could go on the telly more often and talk sense to some of the idiots, that would be a great help. Thanks! ;-)

  • RK Jones

    I saw the teaser for that but didn’t get to see the story. Absolutely incredible. Seriously, WTF? I’ve tried to imagine how they could reach that far to create a crisis to help get ratings, but I’m drawing blanks.

    Was there anything remotely approaching plausible in it?

    Somehow, I expect not.

    The story bemoaned all the unsold disaster relief kits at some gulf coast Ace hardware. I is possible I suppose, that it got better after that. I wouldn’t know, as I was too busy yelling at the TV by that point.

    RK Jones

  • Kim du Toit

    “…the dumber ends of the tabloid press.”

    Actually, I’m struck by how horrible is the Brit Press, tabloid or not, every time I visit the Scepter’d Isle.

    Not that the American Press is any better, of course, [pause to vomit] but I would have thought that the nation with the highest per-capita ratio of books purchased would have been able to generate at least ONE decent newspaper. Even the Telegraph is dreadful nowadays, alas.

    And do NOT get me started about the BBC, especially the World News Service. Oy. “Statist bastards” is about the most inoffensive thing I can think of to describe them.

    I can’t even drool over Daljit Dhaliwal anymore… that prime piece of pundah seems to have moved to CNN or something, which means I’ll never see her again.

  • adam

    I find the stark contrast between the news and the weather interesting.
    The weather is there to predict what might happen in the future, they dont always get it right, but nobody would want to know about what had already happened the day before. (the would be ridiculous?)
    The television news tends to view predicting the future as something absurd, extreme and in the realm of conspiracy theorists. The roll of the media is to wait until something has finished and then report it. I tend to know about, i would say, 80% of what they report because somebody has already got their first, or the bill has been in parliament 3 months already.
    Take the CO2 tax, the issue groups propsed that in 1996, its just taken 10 years to filter down to the top ranks of our political parties in an easy to justify format.

  • James of England,

    The thing is that wealth is OK. It’s more about class.

    Madonna has always been despised by the left-wing media for what she represents. If this adoption had been by someone like Chris Martin then we’d have heard it framed differently.