There are numerous pointers that show the dire times in which we live, and how the march to fascism is progressing. One of these pointers is media compliance: when the mainstream media uncritically, slavishly even, follows the line of the fascists and makes their job easier.
The BBC comes in for a great deal of criticism for giving the right-wing an easy ride, whether it is the frequency of Nigel Farage appearing on Question Time, or Laura Kuenssberg orchestrating shadow-cabinet members’ resignations on air. There have been a few examples of leading interviewers and presenters doing their jobs objectively and fairly: Eddie Mair’s demolition of Boris Johnson a few years ago was a splendid example, and more recently, Andrew Neill’s attack on a Tory vice-chairman for claiming that Corbyn had been instrumental in passing secrets to this country’s enemies.
However, these are the exceptions and more often than not the extreme right are given a very easy passage. I’m going to dwell on one particular example from BBC Essex which happened on Friday 13th July, and that was Dave Monk’s totally one-sided handling of the anti-Trump demonstrations.
Monk’s approach was with the question “So does protesting work?” which can be answered quite simply by pointing out that any change for the better in people’s living conditions was achieved through protest. Votes for women, abolition of slavery, people’s improved working conditions have all come about because of protest. It’s what our democracy is based on. Yet he took a call from an “Alex” in Burnham who spouted hard-right rhetoric which Monk, an educated man (King Edward VI Grammar School Chelmsford, Degree in Law) failed to challenge in any way. It was such a cosy chat that I suspected that this “Alex” was actually a plant he was given such a free ride for his odious views. His use of the far-right expression “snowflake” to describe anyone with reasonable, compassionate views, was repeated by Monk without question. The view was that Trump is president of the USA, and “Leader of the Free World”, but it doesn’t seem to have occurred to Monk that the Leader of the Free World does not pass legislation which allows his henchmen to rip babies from their mothers’ arms and lock them in cages, like a scene from the film “Schindler’s List”.
Then the programme cut to BBC Essex reporter Charlotte Rose in Southend who began by setting the scene, describing the small demonstration that was going on, and then added “It’s been quite an eventful 24 hours already, Dave. Clearly we saw in the Sun newspaper this morning the president saying the Brexit deal that Theresa May wants to negotiate was hopeless and we wouldn’t be able to do a trade deal with the US if we went ahead; he then rowed back on that this afternoon, saying the Sun story was “fake news”, he would love to do a deal with the UK so there’s been a bit of a reversal there already”. Sherry Fuller, one of the organisers of the protest, was introduced by Rose but was then rounded on by Monk, who clearly didn’t want any of this “snowflake” talk from his junior reporter, in one of the most unpleasant pieces of patronising on-air bullying I think I have ever heard. Sherry did especially well to withstand his line of questioning, and scored some excellent points. Sherry quite rightly pointed out that Trump was encouraging racists and homophobes and that his policies were very damaging. “Sounds great, Sherry, sounds great!” was Monk’s response, “but isn’t the reality in 2018 we’ve got to do a deal with the Americans in a post-Brexit world? We cannot afford to antagonise this man, we need him too much. He’s the President of the United States of America, we don’t have a lot of choice really.” It is curious, given those statements by Monk, that he didn’t challenge “Alex”. If it wasn’t for the stupidity of Brexit we wouldn’t be in the position that we had to rely upon a president who lies outrageously from day to day and who cannot be trusted on any issue.
When Sherry, quite reasonably, pointed out that Trump is closely following the path taken by Hitler in 1930s Germany, he was totally dismissive. “Don’t tell me you are equating Trump with Adolf Hitler, purleez tell me that!” follow by “No, no, no, no, no, that is going just too far. You may not agree with his views but you cannot say things like this. You are going completely over the top.” Sherry isn’t the first to make this comparison – serious historians say exactly the same thing, and Monk must know this.
When Sherry pointed out that Trump had rubbished May as a PM and that he had no respect for her, Monk said “He said that was fake news, that didn’t happen.”
This facility for a very experienced broadcaster like Monk to adopt the rhetoric of a serial liar, sexual molester, mocker of the disabled, one who allies himself with the KKK and Britain First, whose antics embolden the extreme right-wing thugs who are marching the streets in increasing numbers speaks volumes about where the BBC is politically. It is our licence fee that pays for the likes of Monk to appease fascists like Trump and his broadcast on Friday afternoon showed absolutely no balance. He should be utterly ashamed of himself and should be taken off the air.
Of course, the fact that Monk’s interview with Sherry Fuller took place on Friday afternoon means that Monk would not have been aware that Trump was about to show appalling disrespect to the queen; that a Trade Union leader was about to get beaten up in a pub by fascist supporters of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, or that Trump was about to conduct a press conference with Putin that even Trump’s republican supporters were describing as “treasonous”. Of course, he wouldn’t have known these things, but none of them surprise anyone who has spent a few minutes watching Trump’s modus operandi and those of his supporters. They are all very strong signs that we are following a very similar path to that which Europe followed in the 1930s and are eminently predictable.
However, Dave Monk of BBC Essex clearly seems to think that such things are OK with his laid-back appeasement of a fascist president.
Edit: Decide for yourselves how balanced Dave Monk was. The piece starts around the 17 minute mark. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06b4zdr