Sunday 17 November 2019

Radio: Let's yank the plug on obsession with America

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Newstalk is running, until the end of April, a series of special reports on "100 Days of Trump" (there is, of course, a hashtag: #Trump100). And I'm afraid my first reaction, on hearing this, was: "Oh for God's sake."

A two-week lead-in, to mark the guy's first 100 days in office? Really? Not the end of Donald Trump's entire term, or even his first year, but the opening 100 days?

Does the word "overkill" mean anything in media anymore? Or "hype", or "hysteria".

And sure, why stop there - why not have a special month-long #Trump200? Meanwhile we can start looking ahead to #Trump300 as soon as that finishes.

And as for #TrumpYear1… the only way that can be properly ticked off is for everyone in radio to commit ceremonial hara-kiri, live on air, via a sequence of precise and disgusting self-disembowelment motions, while intoning the mantra "I'm with Hilary" over and over until the life leaks from their body.

And even then, they'll probably be boring the bejeesus out of Saint Peter about it. Eternity will never have felt so long.

Enough already with the Trump saturation coverage. Yes, I get it, the American President is a big deal. And it has - some - concrete effects on our lives over here. And personally I, like many of you, don't particularly like The Donald: he seems to me a highly volatile element in an already-unstable world.

But this is just stupid. Richard Chambers, who's filing these reports from the US, is a fine broadcaster - this isn't about him specifically, nor even about Newstalk: all talk-radio is as bad. It's about the entire medium losing its marbles over this one story.

#Trump100 will cover issues including: the travel ban on a number of Muslim-majority countries; healthcare; refugees in America; the Mexican border; Irish immigrants; the Rust Belt; the Washington political establishment; and racial/ethnic divisions and tensions.

Other than the Irish immigrants, what does any of this have to do with us? It's their country, I think, isn't it? Americans do actually have the right to choose whatever they like regarding healthcare or immigration laws or anything else, don't they, without being hectored and told what to do from the sidelines by foreign know-alls like us?

I swear, I really think I might drive my car over the next person I hear breathlessly hyperventilating about gun control or capital punishment in the States. Hey, I hate guns and the death penalty is barbaric - but I don't live there, so it's nothing to do with me, and it's not my place to lecture the people who do.

Sure, in a broad, abstract sense, one can consider these matters, take a stance on them, feel an emotional response. I feel empathy when I hear of something dreadful happening in America - but no more than I would at something dreadful happening in China or England or Poland.

The world is full of awful people and horrible deeds. Where's the fortnight-long investigations into life in Japan or France or Gambia or Brazil or… you get the picture.

Is the US the only country where everyone else in the world apparently has a stake, speaks their mind and gets to patronise, insult and generally order around the natives?

Can you imagine the reverse: if Americans waded in here with a list of specific criticisms and complaints, and handed us a list of things we "must" change? Irish media would have a collective aneurysm of pinch-faced outrage.

Keep on Trump, by all means, when he does something that affects the rest of the planet. As for domestic stuff, though… well, it's none of our affair really, is it? I know, minding your own business can be a difficult concept - but let's give it a try.

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