Nick Cohen wrote an excellent piece last week on the UK’s non-love affair with Obama. In fact I think he missed a few things that I have observed in regards to Obama. I can think of two examples where I saw people sycophantically frothing about Obama.
The one most surprising of these outbursts was Dan Hannan’s, a Conservative Member of the European Parliament, gushing piece about Obama in the Daily Telegraph. It was most extraordinary to see this sort of treatment of Obama from someone so normally conservative and rather dry. In addition, there have been other leading Conservatives praising him to various degrees online.
But the most striking of the gushing was seen on Richard & Judy a few weeks back (nb: Richard & Judy, a late afternoon chat-show, is lesser version of Oprah’s housewife-fest which gets about 2 million viewers a day out of 65 million in the UK). Judy was going on about how “handsome & charismatic” Obama was; but curiously there was no mention whatever of his policies or his more dubious friends and acquaintances. There was not even a mention of his “change” obsession. The two proper journalists on the show didn’t show much more nous about the election either. Obamaitis was fully on show in that studio.
Lets put it this way, like Oprah, if they like your book it’s an instant bestseller. I am sure Nick is not a regular viewer of R&J and neither am I but it’s a perfect shut-off-brain show.
And this leads me into the general gist of this post. The mewing of Judy over Obama was part of their report on the American election which did not mention the Republicans at all; just Hillary vs Obama. It will not shock you to hear that there are those that believe that Hillary is the Republican candidate in the race. Some of my UK relatives and at least one of the nurses that administer my chemo were confused by the coverage and thought that Hillary was the Republican.
There is quite a bit of debate on the right online and in the newspapers over whether or not the Conservatives/right in the UK should be rooting for McCain or Hillary. Then there are those that compare McCain favorably to the leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron. Of course, McCain might not find this a compliment since David Cameron is a centrist in extremis who has not managed to lift his party out of the doldrums even though the Labour Party in power is falling apart and messing things up a plenty. In the latest polling the Conservatives have barely managed to get out of the range of “error” territory despite Labour being in power over 10 years. To put it in perspective, at this time in the last Conservative term in power Labour was ahead in the polls by a significant margin.
Normally television coverage of the entire race is a mixture of bemusement and complete disinterest in the entire primary/caucus process. Members of the UK media routinely get things wrong about the entire process, but carry on regardless. The ignorance of the whole process even from their US correspondents is quite obvious. There does not seem to be any attempt to correct it either, which smacks of sloppy journalism. Then again most UK journalists seem to rely on Hollywood for their view of most of America.
The BBC seems to be in complete shock that Hillary did not take this nomination a long time ago. They are not quite sure how to report the entire thing. Then again, many times the tickets on both Sky & BBC News 24 merely mention the Democrat race and ignore the Republicans completely. This was occurring well before McCain won the nomination. Even the Guardian barely mentions him.
There is a collective belief in the UK press that there is no hope that the Republicans will win the White House this year. It’s just a race for Democrat nomination and not worth bothering with the Republicans. Expect headlines from the press like the one that greeted Bush’s re-election; the best of which, by The Mirror, clearly stated that all those who voted for Bush were complete morons under the headline How can 59,054,087 be so dumb? This is sort of the mentality one finds, with few exceptions in the British press.
I suspect once the nomination is sorted out for the Democrats, after the convention in Denver, that there might be some interest from the press in the election. This will especially be the case if there are signs that the race is not as one-sided as they seem to believe.
One thing that the longer nomination races on both sides of the aisle has shown is that, with honorable exceptions such as Nick, the ignorance of the American process in the British media is both extensive and obvious. I think I might hire my good wife out as a consultant to the media in the UK as she seems to have a far better grasp of the process than most commentators.
Andrew Ian Dodge blogs at Dodgeblogium.