Show Hide image

Diary: Bonnie Greer

I love Fox News. What it stands for, I’m against

Somebody ought to rein in Daniel Hannan. He's the latest example of the kind of Brit who gets a little bit of attention from America and goes what we call in Chicago "hog wild". Sean Hannity of Fox News wants him to be the next British prime minister, not knowing what being an MEP means and how far down Hannan is in the food chain. Fox wheels him on against a midnight-black set with twinkling lights behind him, like something out of a Dracula movie, and then he lets loose. What he says about the NHS is kinda treasonable, if I didn't believe in freedom of speech. Lord Mandy, he's a gift. Work him!

I have to confess that I love Fox News. It is totally brilliant. Forget CNN, MSNBC. Fox is yelling, screaming, partisan, obsessed with cop car chases, guns, God, what teens get up to. Glenn Beck must be seen to be believed, right out of the film Network, but for real. Hate him, but he's great. Bill O'Reilly is, too. The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 News, Sky - none can hold a candle to this network. We need something in Britain that's partisan, that's red in tooth and claw, to wake people up and make them feel they can access their rulers. I don't agree with most of the stuff on Fox, but it sure is entertaining, and calibrates me. What it mainly stands for, I'm against.

I haven't watched scheduled TV for a long time. Only the news. I like reading about television. We have some very fine TV critics, and I learn everything I need to from reading. Not watching television puts you in a strange place, especially when you're in various green rooms and don't know who anyone is. I was at Sky when my good friend Clarke Peters walked in. Clarke is a lovely, modest guy, and we had just started talking when all of these men from Sky started licking the glass, trying to get inside. I had no idea that Clarke was on The Wire. I'd only seen 15 minutes of it once. I grew up and have lived in neighbourhoods such as the one in the series, and watching one of those 'hoods on TV is not my idea of entertainment. After I stepped aside, all the guys at Sky begged for photos with Clarke and he graciously obliged.

I have been going back and forth over whether I should contact some friends living outside New York, who have benefited enormously from the NHS. While their son was a student at Oxford, he had a massive stroke and the NHS got him back on his feet. The treatment cost about a million quid, and my friends got it all free. The NHS wanted to study their genetic system, because what happened to their son was quite rare, but my friends didn't want the "intrusion", which I think sucks, after all the NHS has done for them. So I guess I won't be contacting them, because they probably wouldn't step up to the plate and defend the service. I think they voted for McCain.

The town hall protests are an example of the right-wing extremism that sweeps across the US from time to time. They happened during the civil rights movement and after the First World War. These protesters have a right to be in the public square and should be allowed to have their say. The public, in these situations, is seldom spontaneous. The right is as manipulated as the left was and still is. What's happening in the US right now is a real-life lesson for the Obama administration. The White House needs to simplify its message of change and be consistent, kicking to the kerb a few of the policy wonks, political consultants and eggheads the president has all around him at the moment.

I notice that my mate Kwame Kwei-Armah has written a play about a young black television presenter running for Mayor of London. Then I hear that David Lammy MP, another friend, is considering running. I don't know if this is true, but I hope that one of them does. I want to be a part of their campaign. Mayor Boris has compared himself to the Roman patrician Cincinnatus, who came off his land to save the republic. Oh . . . and Cincinnatus went back there, too. Come on, Kwame! Come on, David!

No summer for me. I have been writing a book called Obama Music: Some Notes from a South Sider Abroad, about the South Side of Chicago as seen through bits of my life there and through the portals of gospel, blues, soul and jazz. Figure a black person better say something about Obama, since it looks like there will be big tomes coming from the usual suspects. Obama Music is a small, personal book about the life and history of that part of Chicago, but researching the president, reading every book that I can find both here and in the US, is like looking into a blast furnace. He's the last "Great Person". After him come the robots.

Bonnie Greer's book "Obama Music" will be published by Legend Press in October

Bonnie Greer is a playwright, author, and the Chancellor of Kingston University.

This article first appeared in the 24 August 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Is Google Evil?