I didn’t blog yesterday and don’t entirely feel like doing it today. I guess putting the old What & The Why website into legacy mode by transferring it over to Google’s free Blogger service feels a little like the end of an era. Plus tomorrow is the last day I can hear from Private Eye if they want any of my last batch of cartoons. I feel like that’s another promising road that ends with a brick wall. I feel like Sean Connery in Goldfinger, racing towards my own set of headlights…
I don’t recall if I actually posted about Nick Newman’s articles over at the Professional Cartoonists Organisation so forgive me if I repeat myself. I was reading them last week and quite depressing they were. He was talking about the diminishing market for gag cartoons but also the problem that magazines now face with fewer new cartoonists coming through the ranks. This is what utterly baffles me. I’ve been trying to come through the ranks for ten years and never had a jot of luck with the Eye, whose pages are mostly filled with same familiar names. Makes me want to scream: of course nobody is coming through the ranks if nobody gives new names a chance…
I really need to find a new project. The last few days, I’ve been trying to follow John Cleese’s advice about not forcing things. Problem with not forcing things is nothing gets forced. Or maybe I just don’t have any good ideas lately.
Part of not forcing things involves my doing more reading. I spent all day yesterday with my nose pressed against a book. I’m currently finishing The Cartel but it’s a pretty long read and I needed a break from all the carnage. I decided to read Brian Stelter’s new book, Hoax, which is about the influence of Fox News on contemporary US politics. I’d have probably been better served sticking with the Mexican drug scene. It might have been less depressing.
That’s not to say it’s not an excellent book. It really is, telling a story that I probably thought I knew. Fox News made “opinion” big business but the degree to which they did that at the expense of proper journalism was something I hadn’t probably considered. Nor has I realised how much of a sham it all it; a business operation feeding a gullible public with the kind of opinion (we really mustn’t call it news) that they’ve been made hungry for. The epitome of that is Tucker Carlson, bemoaning the lot of the ordinary working American yet living on his own private island, effectively surrounded by a moat. Hannity is the same: working from his luxury estate in the backwoods of billionaire’s row.
As much as I knew a lot of the story, I really didn’t know most of it. The relationship between Trump and Fox is toxic for American democracy and Stelter does nothing to dispel the notion that Rupert Murdoch has been one of the most significantly bad influences on the Western world. Brilliant businessman, you might argue, but whose pretence about being an old-fashioned newsman in entirely overshadowed by the monumentally bad influence he’s had in politics.
What’s evidently clear, too, is how much the Trump presidency has embraced the sexualised characteristic of his favourite channel; predatory old rich guys surrounded by women expected to have a “tits up, hair back” approach to business.
I’ve not finished the book but my opinions of some key players has changed quite radically. James Murdoch is coming out of the book extremely well, as is (much to my surprise) Meghan Kelly. Shephard Smith I also rated as one of the saner voices at Fox but here he feels like he’s the last person standing before the tide of white supremacist bullshit came crashing down. Even though he was rocked by scandals of his own, Bill O’Reilly is far from the worst figure here. Ditto Roger Ailes, who at least set a limit beyond which his staff didn’t cross.
Blog post written. Now what? Dear Christ, now what?