What a narrow-minded, churlish and mean spirited media response there has been to Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration speech in the UK. The anger of the MSM and the liberal bien pensants erupted all over again.
Switching between the live coverage of the BBC, Sky and ITV on Friday to watch the inauguration, I found all as bad as each other. ‘This was unthinkable just a few months ago’, the BBC’s White House Correspondent Katty Kay exclaimed. It may have been to you, love. It wasn’t to the American people – women included – that Tim Stanley and even the reluctant Matt Frei met as far back as the primaries.
Only Bloomberg seemed capable of reporting the event without constantly juxtaposing that archangel Obama against Donald Trump’s Lucifer. Only Bloomberg managed to drag the screen away from the Obamas’ drawn out departure and final speech (it behoves me to be brief, he said – he wasn’t) at Joint Base Andrews to film Mr Trump in the Oval office for the first time.
Yet we had just witnessed Donald Trump – once the butt of jokes about his ‘unique speaking style’ – at his most forcefully coherent and fluent.
It wowed me. ‘Brilliant inaugural speech’, I texted my co-editor Laura. ‘Tim Stanley thought so too’, winged back her reply. He was not on his own in thinking:
‘What a speech. My opinion on this may well be unique in Britain – that’s not a first – but I thought it was well-crafted, occasionally poetic, really rather good…
‘“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.”
‘Such words could easily have been delivered by William Jennings Bryan, Jesse Jackson or other Democrat heroes. It was a class warrior speech in a long populist tradition.’
And what exactly could be wrong with that?
Everything, apparently, if you are denizen of the BBC, many of the broadsheets or most of the universities over here. Nothing was bad enough to say about Trump. Emily Maitlis directly compared the address with Nazi rhetoric, while the usually thoughtful Janet Daley opined that he sounded like a ranting fascist – I wondered when she had last heard one.
All the while, Obama’s last and frankly subversive acts went unremarked.
The across-the-board condemnation of Trump has been startling in its ferocity, in its self-righteous indignation and sheer ethnocentrism. The Victorians were less closed-minded.
Trump has been accused of rust belt tribalism, ‘nativism’ (a new insult) and populism yet his critics are locked entirely in their own judgmental and very narrow world view. They are claiming he is dangerous and unpredictable for daring to challenge their own iron bars.
They are even prepared to attack democracy in the process, as Brendan O Neill observes here in his defence of the crowd. As he describes it, their self-righteous indignation has permitted hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue. It is dangerous and something from which our own Prime Minister needs to stand above and distance herself from.
Yesterday on the Andrew Marr programme, she missed her first opportunity to do so. Instead she did not so much as demur, let alone show disapproval, when Andrew Marr read out a virulently anti-Trump tweet written by one of her aides.
Then she looked embarrassed when Andrew Marr quizzed her on the Women’s March on Washington when she should have put him down. There was no need to justify herself – by saying she had already condemned Trump’s comments about women and would not be afraid to take him on. Her apparent need to brandish her feminist credentials and disapproval was un-statesmanlike, undiplomatic and made her look weak.
Imagine Mrs Thatcher’s response to being asked to sympathise with an anti-democratic demo designed to upset a presidential inauguration?
‘You must be bonkers Mr Marr’, I can hear her saying, ‘Mr Trump is the clear choice of the American people – his path to victory was broad based. We congratulate him. My government respects the will of the American people and salutes their democratic choice and will always do so. I am looking forward to an ever closer relationship with this great country, starting with my meeting with the new president later this week’.
I hope the British Government learns to behave better, even if the media don’t.
(Image: Mark Dixon)