GB News launched on Sunday 13th June with a declaration of intent from chairman and lead presenter Andrew Neil. Among other things, Neil proclaimed that the channel would give “voice to those who have felt sidelined or even silenced in our great national debates” and would cover “the people’s agenda.”
Neil has since taken a break from the channel, admitting to a “rocky start” (some of the funniest gaffes and technical mix-ups from the first few weeks are documented here), but GB News ploughs on – now with less taking the knee and more Nigel Farage!
As the mask slips further, revealing something that looks more and more like Fox News, we revisit Andrew Neil’s opening speech and pick apart the contradictions.
FALSEHOOD 1: “Welcome to the launch of GB News, Britain’s news channel…”
The best place to start any analysis of an organisation is its economic base. Does the funding model for GB News tally with the channel’s claim that it’s British and will focus on the concerns of the British people?
This seems somewhat unlikely when the two main funders are mega-rich New Zealand and US businessmen.
“The chairman and a founding partner of Legatum, the investment firm that stumped up some £20m to become co-lead investor in GB News, is the New Zealand-born, Dubai-based Christopher Chandler” according to The Guardian.
The Guardian also point out that “US media group Discovery Inc is the other co-lead investor. Its significant shareholder is John Malone, the libertarian and erstwhile Murdoch cable rival”.
Still, at least ONE major investor is British: businessman Sir Paul Marshall.
According to Byline Times, Marshall is the man who convinced Michael Gove to throw his political weight behind Brexit. His hedge fund “successfully bet on the ensuing political and economic chaos after its initial big wins on Brexit.”
Perhaps Marshall threw his financial weight behind Brexit because he’s so patriotic! If so, why did he “(set) up a fund in Dublin to avoid the impact of crashing out of the EU”?
Andrew Neil is as British as they come, you may think – until you read this Independent column about his French chateau. “I get out of London as much as possible when Parliament is not sitting” Neil boasts, “I either come here or go to New York”.
Where does he go in New York? Neil owns a New York apartment, purchased for $3.2 million dollars.
And that’s not even the worst of it: the apartment is in Trump Tower.
Neil, it seems, like the other big players in GB News, is a multi-millionaire globe-trotter with an affinity for ostentatious, Trumpian wealth.
Which brings us to…
FALSEHOOD 2 – “dedicated to covering the news that matters to you”
The three primary funders of GB News are ruthless, neoliberal businessmen.
Two are non-Brits with little apparent connection to the country outside of business interests.
The third funder is such a “patriot” he pushed for a disastrous Brexit while using EU loopholes to insure himself against the consequences.
We would suggest to you that the economic base of GB News is in direct contradiction of its stated aims. Rather than being in step with the ordinary man, the funders are wealthy libertarians who play the markets and reap the rewards of deregulated capitalism. Their concerns cannot be said to be the same as those of ordinary Brits.
FALSEHOOD 3 – “giving a voice to those who have felt sidelined or even silenced in our great national debates”
Guests on GB News in its first week included:
Need we say more? The core of GB News guests are so “sidelined” they’re on TV practically every day. Or in the Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Express, Spectator, Talk Radio, LBC, The Sun, the BBC…
FALSEHOOD 4 – “We are committed to covering the people’s agenda. Not the media’s agenda”
What is “the people’s agenda”? Politicians and the media always talk about “what the public want” or “what people want” but how do they know? Is there any objective way to study this?
Public opinion polls are perhaps the closest to an objective measure and are regularly studied by organisations like YouGov.
Polls like the one featured above continually show that a majority of the public think Royal Mail, trains and utilities should be nationalised. The findings are all the more remarkable since you’ll struggle to find ANY pundit on ANY mainstream media outlet who argues for nationalisation. The corporate media, as you’d expect, continually propagandise for privatisation and the private profit it generates.
Is this the only issue on which the public view differs from the elite views that dominate politics and the media?
Check out this opinion poll on nuclear weapons. It highlights that a majority of the public think “on the whole nuclear weapons make the world a more dangerous place by increasing the chance that any war involving nuclear-armed countries may escalate into a nuclear war.”
This seems like a sane and rational view, but how many mainstream newspaper columnists opposed the renewal of Trident? Can you think of any? Not so long ago the media mocked Jeremy Corbyn for his pacifism and claimed that he was a “threat to Britain” because he opposed nuclear weapons.
So will GB News buck the trend and strongly argue for nationalisation of trains and public utilities? Will they argue AGAINST nuclear weapons and their renewal?
You know as well as we do that they won’t – therefore they will not be covering the people’s agenda, but an elite agenda…
FALSEHOOD 5 – “GB News will not be yet another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that already dominates so much of the media”
FALSEHOOD 6 – “We will puncture the pomposity of our elites in politics, business, media and academia”
Firstly, as we’ve already shown, GB News are the elite. Andrew Neil is a multimillionaire who is chummy with PMs, Rupert Murdoch and lives a metropolitan lifestyle.
No doubt the channel will try to pull down those who argue for redistribution of wealth and other left-wing agendas, but will they “puncture the pomposity” of political elites next time they claim benevolent Western intervention is required in a resource-rich country?
Will they puncture the pomposity of businesses and billionaires who accrue more and more power and wealth (including those who, um fund them)?
Not judging by their employee list, which consists, almost exclusively, of rabid right-wingers.
Andrew Neil made his name as Rupert Murdoch’s lackey at the Sunday Times. As editor he boasted that “Thatcher’s battles were our battles” and was, according to Nick Davies, “a delirious sacker. He dumped so many people for being leftish.”
“Notoriously,” Davies continues (in his book Flat Earth News) “(Neil) refused to accept the consensus view of Aids, promoting the idea that this was a disease of gay men and drug addicts, attacking official advice that heterosexuals too were at risk”
Neil’s personal opinions also include cheerleading for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
He called opponents of the first “wimps with no will to fight” and, remarkably, praised Bush and Blair’s muddled, truth-twisting attempts to justify the Iraq war, echoing even the most absurd claims of nuclear weapons and ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Queda.
“The suburbs of Baghdad are now dotted with secret installations, often posing as hospitals or schools, developing missile fuel, bodies and guidance systems, chemical and biological warheads and, most sinister of all, a renewed attempt to develop nuclear weapons…” wrote Neil in The Scotsman.
Who else is on board the fledgling ship GB News? Press Gazette provide a handy summary of the first staff members to sign up:
“Chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos, a former boss of Sky News Australia“
“Rebecca Hutson who is joining as head of digital. The former Mail Online director of video will also appear on-air”
“Lucinda Duckett has been named director of corporate affairs and editorial advocacy. Duckett most notably spent 13 years at News Corp Australia“
John McAndrew, “a former director of content at Sky News…named director of news and programmes”
A headline early recruit for GB News was New Zealand-born journalist Dan Wootton. Wooton left Murdoch’s Sun to join GB News. Simultaneously, he took up a position as a columnist with the Mail on Sunday…
Can you see an emerging pattern?
We suppose it’s possible that a TV channel staffed by ex-Murdoch, News Corp and Daily Mail right-wingers will determinedly try to “puncture the pomposity” of right-wing billionaires, Western neo-colonialism and their nationalist narratives.
Actually, no, we don’t.
FALSEHOOD 7 – “And if you want fake news, lies, disinformation, distortion of the facts, conspiracy theories — then GB News is not for you”
This one lasted barely an hour beyond the GB News launch. Till Dan Wootton went on air…
Falsehood 8: “expose (the) growing promotion of cancel culture for the threat to free speech and democracy that it is”
This claim was blown apart spectacularly when Welsh presenter Guto Harri expressed solidarity with English footballers who’d been racially abused by taking the knee.
Harri, in his resignation letter to GB News, noted that the channel initially “proudly cascaded” his gesture through social media.
However, when viewing figures briefly dropped to zero as “culture warriors” raged against the mild anti-racist gesture, the channel backtracked and contradicted themselves in the bizarre tweets below:
A journalist utilising free expression to make an anti-racist gesture is “an unacceptable breach of standards” (despite the lack of “a company line on taking the knee”)?
Harri called this exactly what it is. He accused the channel of becoming an “absurd parody…Rather than defending free speech and confronting cancel culture, [GB News] has set out to replicate it on the far right”.
Wish you’d spoken to us before you signed up Guto. We could have told you that!
FALSEHOOD 9 – “A much wider variety of voices than you currently hear in broadcasting”
So far as we are aware GB News is THE ONLY NEWS CHANNEL that explicitly subscribes to a specific perspective – “anti-woke”.
The channel runs a daily “Woke Watch” segment and Neil and other presenters have spoken of taking on “woke” culture as an aim of the channel.
By definition, GB News will therefore provide LESS variety of voices than any other news channel – proven to overwhelming effect by the cancellation of one of their own presenters for making one “woke” gesture.
Conclusion: Time to “Woke” Up?
Overuse of words can use to a loss of meaning. Few words have been abused as much in the past few years as “woke”. It has become the go to slur of GB News and the plethora of right-wing media outlets and think-tanks that pump out propaganda on behalf of billionaires. It has even penetrated to the “impartial” centre, with BBC chief Tim Davie instructing employees to avoid “virtue signalling”.
We should never lose sight of what “woke” actually means.
For all its falsehoods, when GB News tells the truth it damages itself the most.
A channel set up with the specific aim of ridiculing and countering people who are “alert to injustice and discrimination, especially racism”?
That is GB News – and that is why it must fail.
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