BBC, CNN, Taiwan

While visiting my wife's home country of Taiwan, we stayed for a while in a house owned by her mother in the south of the country. I again had that curious sense of dissonance one experiences while watching BBC World News abroad - because it has adverts in it. For cars. And countries seeking investment (politically stable for at least 15 years!).

A greater sense of dissonance was had on our trip north to Taipei to visit friends and old haunts. While staying in a dilapidated, run-down, cheap as chips hotel near the Main Station, the only English language news channel I could access was CNN. It was frightening. Reporters poking through civil wars, people staggering through wastelands, and occasional talking heads emphasising that so far as America was concerned THEY'RE COMING FOR US. They - whoever the hell 'they' are - are coming for us right now so we'd better nuke/invade/slaughter them before they get a chance to poison our waters, steal our children or bring about gay marriage.

And that's not even to mention the parade of lunatics and freaks dancing across the screen, all of whom are apparently Republican candidates for the Presidency. That was probably the most frightening thing of all.

By the end of two weeks of watching CNN, I was living in a deeply paranoid world. We returned to Tainan, and BBC World News. Ah. All was calm again. Reasonable voices. Calm discussions. Like there isn't anything that can't be sorted out by a good old chinwag over a nice cup of tea.

Quite a contrast. 


RFYork said...

How do you think those of us here in the USA feel? It's mind boggling that anyone could even consider most of the Republican maniacs as serious presidential material. But, a lot do.

Gary Gibson, science fiction writer said...

You have my sympathies. If that was my primary source of news information - and I am guessing CNN appears impossibly liberal to those who take their daily news from Fox - then I would probably spend my days crouched by my front door with a shotgun in hand waiting to see if anyone made the mistake of setting foot on my front lawn. One can almost feel sympathy for the most belligerently warlike on that side of the Atlantic, if they live in a media environment so heavily slanted towards imminent destruction of everything we know.

Mind you, not that things are perfect in the UK. There's nothing I personally find so distasteful as the extended hagiographical bouts of fawning on the BBC every time a member of the Royal Family so much as draws breath.

mikeharknett said...

I have found that although the BBC is better than CNN which is better than Fox - the best satellite new we get here in new zealand is Al Jazera - it doesn't seem to be too pro the arab view or anti west - but on the whole goes much deeper into the international stories - and it doesn't seem to fawn over any royalty

The Antihippy said...

I had almost the exact same experience in Hungary. The only English news I could find was CNN. My mind boggled that this was considered serious news. At the time, as far as I was aware, CNN had a good rep for providing serious news but I felt like I was being treated like a 5 year old.

I think for the first time in my life I put MTV on willingly. Until I went home, when I wanted the news I waited till I could get Wifi.

@MikeHarknett: Hey Mike, I've heard this too but never actually sat down and watched it. An acquaintance is sometimes a talking head for some of the politics slots (he's a lecturer in Middle East studies) and usually has good things to say about them.

On the subject of American lunatics vying for power...

It would be too easy to start mouthing off about this lot. I can't understand why such obviously repellent people are considered viable candidates. To me it demonstrates a deeper problem with the American milieu even if I am not sure what that problem is or how it could be addressed.