There is an impression in Britain, that we are a nation of people that tends to give people a chance to show their colours before we judge them. Increasingly, it feels as if that impression is being removed or replaced by a judgemental and somewhat hysterical mob mentality.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the media, especially when it comes to channels or papers that appear to challenge the agreed upon mainstream narrative. I speak, of course, about the furore around GB News.
GB News is a news platform that aims to launch in late 2021 and join the array of 24-hour news channels currently manning the waves of British television. Amongst some of the journalists who have agreed or are in talks to sign onto the channel include Andrew Neil, Julia Hartley-Brewer, and Dan Wootton.
According to Andrew Neil, the platform aims to challenge the ‘liberal-left’ consensus amongst journalists, that is ‘too metropolitan, too southern and too middle class.’ The platform also hopes to target viewers in ‘Red Wall’ areas in the North and the Midlands, who Neil believes have been left behind by the decimation of regional news channels.
Neil also stated that he hopes the platform will build a community that focuses on bringing ‘balanced, informed and accurate news,’ and that ‘conspiracy and disinformation will not be tolerated.’
This sounds like something the British media desperately needs and should be encouraged if the British public is genuine in its desire for balanced media. But that is not the case. Instead, GB News has since the start of the year, been plagued by claims that it will be the ‘British Fox News.’
What exactly its detractors are using to support this claim is unclear. Perhaps it is fear about a competitor that could attract a reasonable audience, or perhaps it is Neil’s claims that GB News won’t parrot the ‘woke line’ that many other papers, most noticeably The Guardian do, that has stirred up this fear. Or perhaps it might be something to do with some of those who are believed to have signed up to present on the platform?
After all, some have pointed out that Dan Wootton, who will be presenting a programme on GB News, has written highly critical articles and questioned the government’s approach to lockdown. They claim that his articles ‘undermine scientific advice’ and spread ‘misinformation’ which ‘erodes trust in our institutions.’
Whilst one can understand their criticism of Dan Wootton, using him as the lone example of why GB News will become the Fox News of Britain, seems hyperbolic. It ignores the stellar work of someone such as Andrew Neil who gave 25 years of hard work and stellar journalism to the BBC.
It also paints a rather broad and stereotyping brush over the other journalists who may be employed by GB News. Given that British people don’t like or claim not to like stereotyping people, this should concern everyone.
The articles by The Guardian and The Evening Standard, which are operating on a rather thin basis of evidence have been used by campaign group ‘Stop Funding Hate’, to whip up a campaign by supporters and others to stop companies advertising on GB News.
This is grossly irresponsible. ‘Stop Funding Hate’ have no serious proof that GB News is going to be the British version of Fox News, they haven’t even presented GB News’ rebuttal to such claims so that their supporters can decide what to think for themselves.
Instead, they are doing what they claim GB News will do, which is whipping up fear with little evidence. All against a news channel that hasn’t even launched yet!
It is hard not to think that the campaign against GB News is being run by people who are scared to face competition from an outlet that may break the consensus that has developed in the British media. It is hard not to wonder if these people think that the British public is so foolish and gullible that they would be unable to distinguish fact from fiction.
Perhaps GB News will be Britain’s Fox News, but if it is, it will face blowback from Britain’s regulator Ofcom and the viewing public. Perhaps it will be what it claims it wants to be.
If so, we should welcome it. However, rushing to judgement as those who are campaigning against it are doing is a foolish idea. There is a reason the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ exists. This is the clearest example of that to date.