Should I help the Guardian to make money? The question arises because the paper’s emissaries have been badgering me to agree to appear on their platform later this month.
In itself this is a strange thing. I’m all for ecumenicalism, but the Guardian would seem to be the worst possible platform. My own experience of the paper is not only that it has the most flagrant bias of any UK publication, but that when it is caught in an error it is the most reluctant to publish corrections, apologies or retractions. Indeed, experience shows that the paper is more unwilling than President Trump to admit it has ever got anything wrong.
As it happens the Guardian have been asking me to come to speak on a panel to discuss that same US President and his forthcoming visit to the UK. Which is an odd request in itself. Since everybody else seems to spend almost every waking moment talking about Trump, I spend very little time doing so and generally try to avoid the overheating he appears to provoke in fans and foes alike. But I imagine that the Guardian’s interns have not bothered to look into this, and assumed that I would be just the person to balance out an anti-Trump panel.
The paper informs me that the ‘panel of experts’ who have already agreed to speak include ‘American comedian Desiree Burch’. I’ve never heard of Burch, but I cannot say that the inclusion of a comedian of any nationality promises much insight. Various other Guardian hacks and Labour MPs are promised. And there is also the promise of someone they describe as the ‘leader’ of something called the ‘Stop Trump Coalition’, aka Guardian columnist, Owen Jones.
I must admit that even the name of the juvenile ‘Stop Trump Coalition’ makes me sigh with boredom. What is there to say about people who spent the last two years insulting the British people and seem intent on spending the coming years insulting all of our allies? How are those of us who do not favour global isolation to respond to these banner-wavers?
Anyhow, it all gives a pretty clear idea of how the evening will go. Everyone will start by trying to out-compete each other about how much they hate Trump. This will include that crucial component of the anti-Trumpers, which is a needless exaggeration of his faults. Thus the Billy Bush tape becomes the claim that the President is ‘a self-confessed serial rapist’. After a certain amount of this, things will become a bit too rally-like. And so someone might dare to say that there are occasional things that the President appears to get right.
So long as this is said by a comedian it might be giggled away as self-evidently a joke. If it were to come from me then it would be responded to with cries of ‘Well since you love Trump so much’. And ‘I can’t believe you’re willing to defend a self-confessed rapist’. There will then follow some claims about how Trump is removing the rights of American women to have any say over their reproductive organs and strip LGBT people of all of their rights. At some stage somebody will claim that Trump only got into power (like Brexit) because of Russia, Putin and Cambridge Analytica. Though since the Guardian’s staff have historically been far closer to the Kremlin than anyone in Trump’s orbit, this one might be trodden around with slightly more care. Aided by an erroneous hope that the audience will be too young to know this.
At some point, after enough non-listening has occurred, everyone will go home and the Guardian will be able to count the money they have made off the free labour of their speakers and the willingness of their readers to pay for arguments they could hear on many street corners.
As I do not feel inclined to help the Guardian’s finances and can see no other way in which this evening will turn out my instinct is to give this one a miss. Also there is bound to be something on TV, or Netflix.