Have you been watching GB News? It fascinates me. Whatever you say about the TV channel’s politics; whatever debate you’ve been having about who annoys you the most on there, you have to respect somebody deciding to start a news channel in 2021. It demonstrates just the kind of plucky British spirit that they will surely spend many hours discussing the erosion of, live on air.
One of the latest additions to the channel is comedian and presenter Mark Dolan. I have worked with him a few times and always thought he was nice, and still do. In a recent interview I saw on the channel with Dan Wootton, Dolan made a point that I thought was quite interesting, as it highlighted the challenge of positioning yourself as anti the “woke agenda” or whatever you want to call it.
He argued that the job of any comedian was to challenge and question what is going on in the world; therefore, he said, he was surprised by how few comedians were coming out against lockdowns and face masks. (He himself has in the past demonstrated his opposition to face masks by cutting one up live on his radio show.)
Speaking personally, the reason I haven’t come out against face masks and locking down and the various Covid mitigation measures that have been taken is that I’m… not against them. I am in favour of them. I find them annoying and irritating, and I think the government has handled the whole thing terribly, but I’m not against wearing a face mask, and therefore it would seem weird to come out and say I was, just for the sake of pricking the consensus.
The idea that comedians aren’t questioning is also wrong; every comedian’s set I’ve seen since gigs have returned contained questions and jokes about what the hell is going on. But because they don’t agree with Dolan, he feels they’re not doing their job properly.
And therein lies the problem that faces GB News: as an agitator, it has to take a combative stance on everything. I am not for one second suggesting that presenters don’t completely believe what they are saying and are saying it to get attention, I just think that if you did work for GB News and, I don’t know, suddenly found yourself agreeing with athletes taking the knee, it might make your job untenable.
The point about challenging the consensus is slightly contradictory in the case of GB News. The channel sits on the right politically, which is also where our country sits – based on election results in the recent past and most likely in the medium-term future, and so isn’t GB News in fact the consensus? Aren’t the left-leaning journos and comedians that GB News is kicking against challenging the consensus so much that people are shouting out for more voices on TV that reinforce it? I think the point I am trying to make here is that if you discuss the consensus for long enough, the word consensus ceases to have any meaning at all.
Perhaps, if you believe that news is generally biased, then you feel that you have to take a strong counterpoint in order to counteract that, in a similar way that if you want to counteract discrimination you have to push hard the other way in favour of diversity. Perhaps the only reason I find GB News to be distasteful is because I don’t agree with it: and presumably that’s the way its viewers feel about almost every other channel on TV.
In fact, what I should be doing is watching more GB News, in order to extricate myself from the liberal echo chamber that I have constructed for myself. But I’ll probably just rewatch The Mandalorian.