2017 : The News Nev­erend­ing

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - GUIDE -

Just your main­stream en­ter­tain­ment re­ally, the sort of thing we watch these days for a bit of di­ver­sion be­fore build­ing up to the main event which is usu­ally tak­ing place on News­night or Prime Time or just the News, any News.

The fact is that two of the great pow­ers of our civil­i­sa­tion, Amer­ica and Bri­tain, are go­ing through a kind of ex­is­ten­tial tor­ment. And it is by no means cer­tain that they will come out of this dark­ness, in­deed there is a chance that they will lose them­selves al­to­gether in this na­tion­al­ism which is sweep­ing through many coun­tries, this epi­demic of the most dan­ger­ous ee­jitry.

Against this, the cre­ators of or­di­nary TV pro­grammes about mass mur­der­ers and the like, are strug­gling. Even your most com­pelling se­ries will last about 10 episodes, you can be done with it over the week­end. But Trump is out there most nights of the week, ev­ery week, and Brexit is run­ning in­ces­santly.

Brexit brought Ire­land into the story for a few weeks, with for­eign news chan­nels send­ing their top peo­ple to Dublin to stand out­side Le­in­ster House, won­der­ing what Paddy was go­ing to do next. There were many anx­ious mo­ments.

And I don’t be­lieve that tele­vi­sion is just “cov­er­ing” these phe­nom­ena, in the usual jour­nal­is­tic sense whereby an event hap­pens and the re­porters are sent out to de­scribe it. Tele­vi­sion makes it hap­pen too, it is the place where Trump lives, it is even the thing that he watches most of the time be­fore he goes there him­self.

With­out our des­per­ate crav­ing for TV en­ter­tain­ment, these mon­strosi­ties could not have grown to their cur­rent mag­ni­tude. Trump is enor­mously en­ter­tain­ing, a delin­quent out of con­trol who is unique among out-of-con­trol TV delin­quents in that his ac­tions can have real-world con­se­quences. There has never been any­thing like it be­fore.

And he knows it too. He’s al­ways talk­ing about “the rat­ings” as the ul­ti­mate mea­sure of the worth of any­thing, and not just be­cause of his own need for af­fir­ma­tion. It is the re­sponse of the TV pro­fes­sional that he is to the core of his be­ing.

There was a re­cent fea­ture in The New York Times which main­tained that Trump told his aides that they should treat each day like it was a TV drama in which, at the end, he van­quishes his ri­vals. Which is ob­vi­ously ac­cu­rate ex­cept that each day is not “like” a TV drama, it is a TV drama, with this as­ton­ish­ing in­gre­di­ent that none of the rest of them ever had — the main man can bring all hu­man life to an end, at any time.

Like­wise his Brexit buddy Nigel Farage is a TV char­ac­ter who some­how won a ref­er­en­dum and then just walked away from the con­se­quences of his ac­tions. He, too, has re­alised that any time spent in the “real world” is time wasted: he just wants to be on the telly.

From this all else flows.


Caitri­ona Perry at­tracts the at­ten­tion of Don­ald Trump

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