Because my router was on the fritz during the first couple of days of the President’s state visit to the UK – a prelude to his Normandy visit on Friday marking the seventy-fifth anniversary of D-Day – I was forced to watch more TV coverage of the proceedings than would otherwise have been my wont. This meant relying heavily on CNN, the BBC, and Sky News. All of them were pretty much as snotty about Trump as expected, although the BBC did an especially obnoxious job, giving a ridiculous amount of airtime to some historian named Mark Shanahan, who in the guise of providing historical context and insight oozed anti-Trump – and anti-American – venom.
Since I’d never heard of Shanahan, I looked him up. He turned out to be an associate professor at the University of Reading, where one of his areas of specialization is “the celebritisation of American political culture from Eisenhower to Trump.” Shanahan brags on his university’s website about being “a regular media contributor to the BBC, ITN; CNN, Sky, ABC (Australia), France 24, and CTV (Canada).” During the Trump visit, no matter what the subject, he was ready with snark, both on the tube and on his Twitter feed. While Trump was visiting Westminster Abbey, Shanahan sneered that this would “play very well with American evangelicals at home.” Right, those American evangelicals who are into smoky thuribles, priests in red cassocks, and old Anglican anthems sung by boy choirs. Shanahan assured BBC viewers that Americans have an outdated “Mary Poppins” image of Britain, complete with bowler hats and chimney sweeps. Yeah, you’ve got it, Thucidydes, we’re all a bunch of dolts, who somehow slept through the Beatles, James Bond, Monty Python, the Thatcher era, Elton John, Ab Fab, Tony Blair, and all those horrible Hugh Grant romcoms. Shanahan also opined, with what seemed like at least a touch of antisemitism, that the “special relationship” is now a joke, because Trump cares less about US ties to the UK than to Israel.
Needless to say, Shanahan wasn’t alone. Pretty much every time the cable-news talking heads mentioned Trump, they found it necessary to repeat the word “controversial.” Nigel Sheinwald, a former British ambassador to the US, told Cristiane Amanpour that Trump “doesn’t value alliances as his predecessors did.” Under Trump, asserted one BBC journo, “the US is no longer the ‘shining city on the hill’…that it was under other presidents.” Sky News correspondents said that Trump “doesn’t understand criticism” and that his views on immigration clash with “British values and American values.” Last year’s “baby Trump” balloon was dragged out again and given endless coverage (although reporters chose not to mention the sea of Palestinian flags surrounding it), and airheaded anti-Trump protesters were interviewed at length by reporters who never pushed back against their preposterous smears.
On the contrary, the correspondents themselves repeatedly called Trump a sexist, racist, and xenophobe, noted that “some people” found it inappropriate to hold a state dinner for him because it would “normalize” his presidency, and portrayed him as a bull in a china shop who, by cancelling the Iran deal, backing out of the Paris accords, and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, had ignorantly undone “decades of consensus” and destroyed the hard work of gifted professional diplomats. No one spoke positively of these moves on Iran, the climate scam, and Israel, or mentioned any of Trump’s many other accomplishments as president. You would think that he’d driven the US into the ground rather than returned it to a position of prosperity, strength, and international authority in the wake of Obama’s disastrous tenure.
Predictably, there were complaints about the cost of security for the state visit – as if US taxpayers didn’t cough up a colossal amount of cash every year to safeguard diplomats in DC and at the UN. Nobody criticized London mayor Sadiq Khan for publishing a bilious Guardian op-ed on Saturday in which he recycled a bucketload of fake news about Trump (e.g., that he’d praised white supremacists at Charlottesville) and called the president, Nigel Farage, and Matteo Salvini fascists; but when Trump responded by tweeting that Khan should pay less attention to him and more to his city’s skyrocketing crime statistics, TV hacks slammed him for “picking a fight with the mayor of London” and “putting his hosts in an uncomfortable position.” Meanwhile Jew-hating, Castro-loving Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbin was portrayed as acting out of high principle when he addressed an anti-Trump rally on Tuesday.
The cable-news crowd repeatedly compared Trump, unfavorably of course, to Obama, who you would have thought was the perfect president, diplomat, and Anglophile; dropped down the memory hole by everyone, it seemed, was Obama’s removal of the Churchill bust from the Oval Office and his condescending lecture warning Britons not to vote for Brexit if they didn’t want to go to the back of the queue. Dismissing talk of a post-Brexit trade deal between the US and UK, a CNN commentator averred that Trump “makes promises that he doesn’t always keep…he’s very erratic and inconsistent.” CNN cited “experts” to the effect that a trade deal wouldn’t do much for Britain’s economy anyway. (Were these the same “experts” who said Trump’s election would usher in “economic Armageddon”?)
Indeed, the cable-news coverage of the Trump visit wasn’t just consistently insulting to Trump and to the American people, especially the “deplorables” who’d voted for him and who consider him a hero. It was insulting to the majority of the UK electorate who, unlike the media elite, voted for Brexit, hate the EU, and presumably appreciate Trump’s support for British sovereignty. It was insulting to UK voters who, in the recent elections to the European Parliament, dealt a blow to the political establishment by giving a historic thumbs-up to Trump’s friend Farage. And it was insulting to Tory voters who have been appalled by May’s disingenuous handling of negotiations with the EU and who’d like to see Trump's chum Boris Johnson as party head. The bottom line is that, on the occasion of his first state visit to the UK, President Trump is being slimed by the very same transatlantic elites who still refuse to accept the results of the 2016 election and the Brexit referendum – folks who malign the rise of liberty in both countries as “populism” while depicting autocratic EU rule as democracy. The hell with them. God bless America, God save the Queen, and God preserve the memories of the brave men from both countries who risked their lives on D-Day in the service of freedom.