Correspondence: British News Media Turns All 'Pudsey Bear' Over Easter!
14 April 2020
This week the political tragedy that goes by the name of ‘Coronavirus’, a name you can get mixed up in your own mind with a half remembered Greek play, has moved on a few scenes. The suffering and regret scenes are now being superseded by new ones.
Only a few weeks ago the British news media reporting from Italy and Spain was laden with more than enough suffering and sorrow to make even Daniel Craig scared, so a few sights of cheerful singing and noble acts of intervention to light up the gloomy day were noted.
Jump forward just a couple of weeks to the British version and the emphasis has changed: Prologue title - 'We all pull together to ignore the worst of it'!
At the point when the British hospital death toll for a single day exceeded the worst ever recorded in Italy and Spain, the chorus from the news reports has changed to; We British should feel ennobled and blessed for the small victories we are now enjoying over the demon virus. As Piers Morgan opined, this can be this generation’s finest hour because we are all in it together.
First we had the really good news that Prince Charles had beaten the virus and was doing really well! On one of the ascending days of the death surge all of the newspapers had front page pictures of him sitting next to his partner stroking a small dog. This was a cause for much jubilation, the demon virus was not going to disrupt the Royal line of Succession.
Shortly afterwards we had the news that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been moved into the intensive care unit of Saint Thomas' hospital. The news media were shocked and fearful that the Great Leader was in danger, I don’t know how many news hours and words were wasted on ‘reporting’ what was completely unknown about the state of the PM’s health. Now that he has come out of hospital just in time to be referenced as an Easter miracle, all is well on the British field of battle.
In so far as the sad and the horrible is still being reported it is now mainly stories about the tragedy of New York, overwhelmed hospitals and unmarked burial places, not the tragedy of the NHS, for it is coping really well thanks to careful preparation by the Government. What we are currently getting out of our hospitals are mostly good news stories about those who have beaten the curse of the demon virus and their heroic carers, including pictures of a few ninety year olds being wheeled out of hospital to a chorus of hand claps and cheers. Celebrities and footballers are raising that extra little bit of money for the NHS, just to give things the personal touch, and the BBC television hospital drama Holby City has even donated its own two ventilators!
What has happened is that somehow a switch has been pressed and a bright new light has come on! Who could have made this light come on? Well, it likely started somewhere at the top of the BBC! You must surely have noticed how, at the British Government daily press briefings, the BBC correspondent always gets first dibs on the questions so it is fair to assume that it was through the BBC that the mood music got changed to one 'right for the occasion', and the rest of the news media sang to the national melody.
Over the Easter weekend news reporting went to 'full Pudsey Bear' in tone, Children in Need and Comic Relief all rolled into one, the hard questions about Government policy were all set aside and the political became fully identical to the personal story. I expect Laura Kuenssberg to make the most of her BBC access to the Prime Minister, by early next week she will be tweeting that the PM ate two boiled eggs for his breakfast and was even strong enough to cut the top of one of them. Fantastic!