Tag Archives: The Guardian

A jump to the left, a step to the right

When it comes to the media, I think objectivity is a little over-rated. I like the fact that certain newspapers – British and American – nail their colours to the political mast, and go out of their way to attract those of a certain ideological persuasion. It’s why The Guardian with its relatively socially progressive agenda will always be more appealing to me than, say, the Daily Telegraph. And if you ever see me with a copy of the Daily Mail, feel free to drive rusty nails into my eyes.

In the States, it’s probably fair to say that more media outlets attempt to claim that they are independent from political bias, but some just can’t help but have their true colours emerge. And of course, the best example of this is Fox News.

Don’t get me wrong, the Fox network has many things going for it. After all, any channel that features ‘House’, ’24’ and even ‘The Simpsons’ is alright by me. But their news coverage is world-renowned for its – erm – marginal right-wing bias. Infact, their political persuasion is so well documented that I’ve never actually turned on the TV or radio to watch or listen to the news for myself.

Until Friday that is, when my Obama-supporting cab driver was listening to the Fox News channel on his satellite radio. Now, as I said earlier, I’m all for a bit of open bias, but this was ridiculous. Despite there being 11 national polls published on Friday, all of which claimed that Obama’s lead was widening (bar one, which had the McCain camp gaining a point), one commentator claimed that McCain had narrowed the gap in the last week by 10 points in key demographics such as 18-30 year olds, to practically level things up.

In a debate about taxation, the host and a Republican analyst both expressed their opinions about possible tax raises in an Obama administration, before cutting off a Democratic spokesperson by playing music over the top of her as she tried to make her response. And as I left the cab, Joe the Well Driller was telling us how much an Obama administration would hurt him.

Now, some or all of this may turn out to be fair, although it still seems unlikely that millions of 18-30 year olds will suddenly wake up and exclaim “Wow, that little man with the grey hair is just the guy I need to stir me from my latent political torpor.” But what really shocked was the abject refusal to put both sides of the argument. One of Fox News’s taglines is “Fair & Balanced,” but to be honest I’ve seen more fair and balanced treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

My best guess is that Fox News isn’t actually a news channel, but some kind of warped reality TV show in which contestants compete to see who can make the most outlandish claims on a broadcast outlet. Mark my words, viewers will turn on later this week to find Ryan Seacrest proclaiming Bill o’Reilly “America’s Next Top News Inventor Idol.”

National WTF Day

Showing the kind of grasp of current affairs that prompted The Guardian to describe A Brit Out Of Water as “all the news that’s fit to print, about a fortnight after it should be printed”, Wednesday 23rd April was Administrative Professionals Day here in the United States. A day to celebrate all the work that assistants, PAs and secretaries do for their bosses, and to show that you really do appreciate it when you ask them to pick up your dry cleaning or phone your wife to say that you’re stuck in a meeting (when in reality you’re stuck in a bar with that girl from accounts).

Needless to say, I didn’t even realise there was such a thing as Administrative Professionals Day until about three days after it happened, and my assistant went unrewarded for all her hard work. Next year the “Sorry, I’m British” excuse might not be as effective, but for the moment it’s holding me in good stead.

I’ve actually always been useless at having an assistant. Having seen too many bosses abuse their power by getting their assistant to go out to buy them stamps, or book dinner reservations, I always go above and beyond to make sure that any assistant feels like I’m not taking advantage of their position. Sadly such a policy tends to backfire when I over compensate, and spend my day picking up their dry cleaning and phoning their partner to let them know that they’re stuck in a barmeeting and won’t be back until late.

Personally I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that I live in a country that has something called Administrative Professionals Day. The Political Correctness Council must have worked overtime to come up with that moniker (“you can’t call them assistants, for crying out loud!”). I’m guessing that American Greetings or Hallmark had their hand in it somewhere, and I know it doesn’t exactly have the popularity of Mother’s Day, but it still seems a bit over the top to remind us to be pleasant to the people we work with.

Before you know it, we’ll be celebrating Be Nice To Your Bug Exterminator Week or Hug A Plumber Day.

Having said that, if the event I witnessed last week in Miami is anything to go by, maybe Administrative Professionals Day is an absolute must. As I waited for my taxi to the airport, I watched a few guys practicing their putting on the adjacent golf course’s practice green. Between every single shot that one of the men took, his assistant would hand him his Blackberry so that he could check his emails or make a phone call, before slinking back to the edge of the green.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, when the blokes made their way off the practice green to start their round, they all jumped into a convoy of golf buggies to make their way around the course.

Except the assistant, that is. They made her walk behind them.

29 days to go

So, the countdown has begun. After 33 years, I’m leaving the UK in just over four weeks, to start a new adventure in the United States. At least, I should be leaving, if I ever pack up all my belongings, book a flight and generally get my arse in gear. Leaving behind bourbon biscuits, Match Of The Day, HP sauce, Sky+ and The Guardian in my wake. Not to mention friends, family and Manchester United. All to head to a place where herbs have no ‘h’, fish and chips have no mushy peas, and presidents have no guilt at pardoning the crimes of their closest confidantes.

Still, there are some consolations, not least of which is the woman sitting by her door, eagerly waiting for me to get through the lengthy immigration queue line so that we can start a new life together. However far it is from Sir Matt Busby Way, New York is the land of opportunity – and in a few short days, opportunity will be knocking for me.

In the meantime, I’m off to stock up on Branston Pickle…