Alex Massie

Inauguration TV

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One of the advantages of the satellite TV revolution is being able to compare the way different countries view historic events. Russia Today, the Kremlin's English-language outreach channel, for instance, was extremely revealing, if sometimes unintentionally, during the Russo-Georgian mini-war last summer. Yesterday it didn't bother with live coverage of Barack Obama's inauguration, featuring instead a talking heads panel featuring a number of grumpy Russian analysts. Still, that was better than China's propaganda vehicle, CCTV (yes, really), which, as far as I could see, hopping between stations, just ignored it altogether. 

On the other hand, ignoring the celebrations might have been preferable to watching the inaugration on any of the US networks. Fox News, unsurprisingly, spent rather more time than their rivals talking about the outgoing President and his victories in the war on terror. Most of the rest of it, I think, was more mawkish than anyone needed. And sometimes unintentionally hilarious. A friend repots that there was a:

"Classic cringe moment on MSNBC - Brian Williams pointed out his [Obama's] "close friend" "Reggie Love" & starts banging on and on about his relationship with obama, & the whole "body man" role...only it wasn't Reggie Love, it was Craig Robinson [Michelle Obama's brother].

Cue awkward white men backtracking over their inability to distinguish between two black men, both of whom may play basketball, but who are 20 years apart." Me? I watched most of it on Al-Jazeera English whose coverage was, I thought, exemplary. Respectful and paying due attention to the historic nature of the moment, but more restrained and level-headed than most others, including, of course, the BBC.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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