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CHAIRMAN Mao once said: “Let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend,” in an effort to promote a culture of questioning and constructive criticism.
But what if one of the new flowers turns out to be a toxic weed without even the saving grace of a pleasant fragrance or a pretty blossom?
Best, surely, to tear it out by the roots or, in milder mood, allow it to wither and die in isolation from the rest of the garden. The latter appears to be the likely fate of GB News.
The television channel was launched in June with a mission to provide a radical alternative slant on the news, politics and current affairs to that supplied by the so-called “liberal metropolitan elite.”
It would challenge what its founders saw as the “woke” and “cancel culture” allegedly suffocating freedom of expression in Britain today.
This would inevitably take the new station in a rightwards direction ideologically but, we were assured, it would broadcast voices from the centre and the left as well.
Now comes the announcement that GB News chair and lead presenter Andrew Neil is standing down, after taking an unscheduled two-month holiday at his holiday home in the south of France only weeks after going on air.
The Professor Moriarty of Wapping was not only upset by the technical calamities that befell the new channel’s programmes in its first month.
Neil has also, it seems, been dismayed by the carping, one-sided and unremittingly right-wing content of much of its output, including the obsessional ranting of the “it’s political correctness gone mad!” kind.
In tune with the vast majority of the viewing public, most Morning Star readers may be unaware of the dross excreted by a typical GB News programme.
A few days ago, for example, leading presenter, former Sun journalist and self-styled comedian Dan Wootton was joined at length by another white man to bemoan the perceived injustices of anti-hate crime legislation.
They dwelt on a handful of cases where the law has been an ass — or has at least been interpreted by asses — to the mild discomfort and irritation of white male heterosexual pundits and comedians such as themselves.
It is unthinkable, on the other hand, that a GB News programme would simply investigate and report — let alone sympathise with — those who experience Britain’s thousands of real hate crimes every year.
Similarly, GB News presenters and guests habitually sound off about how the rights of disadvantaged groups of people at home or abroad are supposedly being used to silence fearless champions of free speech such as … themselves.
Neil’s departure from his top post will do even more damage to the station’s credibility. In many television and business circles at least, his professional reputation as a broadcasting strategist and tough interviewer outweighs his ignominious past as a Murdoch lieutenant.
Replacing him with Nigel Farage as lead presenter may fire up the channel’s dwindling band of right-wing ghetto-dwellers, but it will do nothing to stem the steady exodus of broadcasters and technicians with any skill or integrity.
Neil’s presence at the helm of GB News played a key role in attracting investors to the enterprise. Whether they wish to continue subsidising this ugly, vile-smelling weed remains to be seen.
Certainly, Britain’s media garden would benefit from some new blooms, not least those that would provide alternative perspectives to fake-left liberalism and right-wing neoliberalism. But GB News is merely a waste of both oxygen and carbon dioxide.
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