In the weeks ahead of the launch of GB News in Britain, its founders promised a fearless approach that would see its on-screen talent break free from the cozy consensus of the woke mainstream media. Within three days of going to air, it has managed to do exactly that, by hosting a guest who declared to the nation that Jeffrey Epstein was not a pedophile.
The new network, a kind of weird little British cousin of Fox News, hit the airwaves Sunday—and it’s hard to see how it could’ve gone much worse. It’s been beset by technical difficulties that have rendered it unwatchable, hosts have repeatedly fallen for joke names from mischievous members of the public including the all-time classic “Mike Hunt,” and freaked advertisers have already started abandoning the network in their droves.
But the worst moment, by far, has been the appearance of author, reality television oddity, and royal hanger-on Lady Colin Campbell. The socialite, known as Lady C, was invited on air to share her wide-ranging and badly misinformed opinions about current affairs on Tuesday. She ended up offering a rare defense of Epstein and his pal Prince Andrew.
In a segment about British anti-wokists’ favorite topic, Meghan Markle, Lady C was asked if Prince Andrew had damaged the reputation of the Royal Family more than Prince Harry by befriending arguably the planet’s most notorious sex criminal. Host Dan Wootton—who opened his debut show with a confused anti-lockdown rant on Sunday—referred to Epstein as a pedophile in his pretty straightforward question to Lady C.
“Well, first of all, may I say, pedophile is a medical term,” she began, presumably as producers behind the scenes felt their hearts squelch in their chests. She said it wasn’t fair to call Epstein a pedophile because he tended to prey on teens, which she said actually made him an “ephebophile.” She and Wootton eventually agreed that Epstein was “a dodgy character.”
The undeterred guest then went on to defend Prince Andrew’s close friendship with Epstein, claiming that the disgraced royal was sacrificed to protect even more high-profile associates of the late sex trafficker. “Prince Andrew is, to a large extent, a distraction, so that Bill Clinton will actually be kept out of the frame,” she said, in a baseless statement that would possibly be deemed a bit too conspiratorial even for Fox News.
Even aside from defending pedophiles, the launch has gone badly. The sound and picture quality have made the channel look like it’s being broadcast from the previous century—although that may come as a comfort to a target demographic that is terrified by the modern world. Following complaints and videos of repeated in-studio foul-ups going viral on Twitter, the network said it was working hard on its technical set-up.
It has also been relentlessly targeted by cheeky pranksters who have been trying their best to get oblivious hosts to read out obscene names. Despite only being on the air for three days, “Mike Oxlong” has already made an appearance, as well as the oldest trick in the book, “Mike Hunt.”
More worryingly for network executives, it’s not just the two Mikes who are unimpressed by its first days of broadcasting. Several advertisers have pulled their commercials from GB News, with the most notable company, Ikea, saying the channel is “not in line with our humanistic values.” Beer-maker Grolsch said in a statement confirming its ad-pull that it “prides itself on core values of inclusion and openness to all people.”
Andrew Neil—the Murdoch Empire veteran who founded the channel and presents a show which, in all seriousness, has a segment called Woke Watch—hit back against Ikea Wednesday morning by linking to an article about a French court ordering the Swedish furniture company to pay a fine after it was caught spying on staff. “Here are IKEA’s values,” he wrote.
Neil has found an inevitable ally in Piers Morgan, the U.K. broadcaster who has also made a late-career lurch toward ridiculing millennial snowflakes even though he was last seen flouncing out of his own studio. Morgan branded Ikea as “pathetic virtue-signalling twerps” for their stance against GB News, and he threatened to stop buying flatpack furniture.
Neil previously said that he was having “good conversations” with Morgan about joining GB News after he was released from his mainstream show for his relentless Markle attacks. But, from the first few days of coverage, it seems it will take much more than Morgan to turn things around.