Late one night / early one morning

It does feel a bit like a new dawn, doesn't it? Even though this is still the guy who was the smug "dicky boyfriend", the expectations of him are so high he can surely only disappoint and we here in Britain have sore experience of hailing a political messiah, it was still worth staying up for. It might have been the need for sleep, but I got a bit dewy eyed watching Obama's victory speech.

I have to say though, the best part of the night was watching John Bolton be an absolute dick in his role as commentator. He was paired with Simon Schama and I wonder if Schama had specifically requested to go on with Bolton, since he seemed to having so much fun baiting him. Bolton accused one BBC correspondent of "ignorance" to her face and later said another should be sacked for conducting an argumentative interview. (Kettle, have you met John Bolton?) David Dimbleby grew gradually more and more icy towards him as Schama became more and more outspokenly pro-Obama and used his ferocious intellect to slap Bolton and his reactionary views back into line – but employing the kind of grace lacking in Bolton's increasingly desperate attacks.

Slack-jawed moment of the night was around 2.30am when Dimbleby announced that Fox News had called Ohio for Obama. As usual Fox were going ahead of the other networks but the very fact they were doing it with Democrat gains was as sure a sign as any that the night was going very, very well for Obama. (Simon Schama jokingly tried to persuade Dimbleby to call the entire election at that point.)

*yawn* Bed calls, I think.


10 responses to “Late one night / early one morning

  1. Tom November 6, 2008 at 10:29 am

    The BBC coverage left me quite conflicted. One one hand, I was pleased that they devoted so much time, money and effort. On the other hand, after ten minutes I changed to CNN and stayed there for hours (even despite the crazy “live via hologram” nonsense).

  2. Kate November 6, 2008 at 10:56 am

    The BBC coverage was terrible, just terrible, quite embarrassingly so. Technical hitches, moronic reporters, incredibly biased and badly-informed panellists (I thought John Bolton actually had a fair point, I mean he was on with Schama ffs, who was worse than useless, I wanted to slap him repeatedly), and Dimbers coming over like a slightly Alzheimers grandpa …. terrible.
    I watched the US networks via my laptop – far better, and they didn’t feel the need to ‘mediate’ for the viewer by talking all through the build-up and aftermath of The Greatest Speech In The World For A Generation (Except The More Perfect Union One, Naturally) …

  3. Rachel November 6, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Ah, I was too knackered to do anything other than slump in front of the BBC. Also, having spent (far too much) time in the States and small European hotels that only have CNN, I can’t watch US networks. Their news coverage is generally abysmal and astonishingly inward looking. I’m willing to accept the possibility they pull it out of the bag once every four years, but not enough to find out for myself.
    Also, after the debacle of 2000 I think I prefer to watch coverage that ‘calls’ results only after multiple corroborations…
    I see more of what Schama was trying to say perhaps because I’m also coming at it from a historian’s perspective, and his perspective chimes with my natural one. When Bolton called the reporter ignorant, instead of insulting her he could have engaged with her point, which was a fair one – Palin alienated moderates. If, as Bolton insisted, her job was actually to energise standard Republicans and therefore she succeeded, then whoever decided that was her job had no concept of what was happening outside the party’s core base, and the base is not big enough to elect a President on its own. There’s a case to be answered about Palin but Bolton chose to be insulting.
    And on the Colorado interview where Bolton said the reporter should be fired… firstly, the interviewee was being very defensive – he was a Republican party leader, I seem to recall, and trying to salvage any shred of dignity. But again, the BBC reporter had a point. Colorado may indeed be more bipartisan when choosing its members of Congress but the interviewee was obstinately refusing to acknowledge that there is a world of difference between voting for the President and voting for Congress. The two are judged on different criteria. Presidential votes are cast based far more on the personality of the candidate than Congressional votes. A diehard Democrat is far more likely to vote for a Republican President than change their other voting patterns. So when the reporter was chasing down the ‘Colorado’s voted Republican 9 out of 10 elections’ angle, he did have a point. But Tuesday was not a night to be seen as strongly Republican.
    To be honest, I found Schama’s growing excitement a natural counterpoint to the growing belligerence of Bolton. If you’re going to have someone so brazenly outspoken on one side, you need someone who can go toe to toe or the whole debate gets taken over.

  4. Kate November 6, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    The British media is actually generally awful compared to its American counterpart. I’ve been reading a lot of US papers and news-channel websites in the last few months, and am extremely impressed.
    The BBC in comparison was incredibly disappointing, given how much money they’d spent on flying over just about every kitchen sink they could lay their hands on.

  5. Rachel November 6, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Really? Maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s just that every time I’ve had to watch it or read a US newspaper I’ve ended up clawing at my eyes in desperation and feeling my brain turning to porridge.

  6. Will November 7, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I watched some of the CNN coverage, it was quite impressive with their instant demographic breakdowns of votes, but they don’t half talk a lot and really really quickly. Presumably if they take a breath a typical American viewer would change channels. They were also nicely cautious about calling states, even more so than the BBC.

  7. Kate November 7, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    NY Times. Wa-Po. LA Times. Wall Street J. Newsweek. Cnn. ABC. MSNBC. Politico. All these are bookmarked by me.

  8. Kate November 7, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    … and that’s not even starting on HuffPo, RealClearPolitics et al …

  9. Tom November 8, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    There’s certainly much to admire about – and learn from – the US media. Particularly in print, where the quality of regional news is high (the LA Times is a fine example, but even smaller cities do well – compare the Lexington Herald Leader, for example, to its UK counterparts) and due disclosure is almost obsessive. But then there’s the drek – the regional Fox affiliates, the news tabloids (ignoring the supermarket ones, which are barely worth of the word “magazine”, let alone “news”).
    From a distance we find these easy to ignore – bookmark the HuffPo, skip Drudge – but they account for a huge chunk of what constitutes journalism in the US, so we shouldn’t forget them when comparing our own system. And, after all, we’re in much the same situation over here. We have a few fine newspapers, and many disgraceful rags that lean on xenophobia and caravan competitions. Some of our TV news is principled, some is heading the way of E! at an alarming rate. Same trends, smaller scale.
    And, without wishing to make excuses, it’s worth noting that all journalists in the UK labour under a legal system that does virtually nothing to protect us. The UK’s libel laws are that rare example of a situation where the defendant is guilty until they can prove themselves innocent, and despite the advancement of a qualified public interest defence over the last decade there’s no substitute for genuinely protected speech if you want journalists to actually expose wrongdoing. And then there’s the idea of relying on “citizen journalism” and the fact that most people simply don’t want to pay for news anymore, which is a whole other tale of woe. I’d suggest that we, and all nations, get the media we pay for – not necessarily the media we deserve.

  10. Rachel November 8, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    You see, you say the NY Times but whenever I’ve bought it I’ve been able to read it in about half an hour, supplements and all. I remember sitting in Central Park thinking ‘that was it?’ I will admit that its website is a lot better, and it was one of my bookmarks at work.

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