Eskimos on TV

“So ***** is having a baby with ***** but I don’t know who the father is… meh-heh… ***** been shagging ***** behind his back and I’ve kept their secret after I caught them sitting next to each other… ***** hasn’t been seen for ages so probably in prison again I heard they were doing drugs round…”

When he could get a word in, Dan cackled. He was affecting a Sid James laugh. “We’re all God’s children,” he said.

Brewster was horrified. There was a difference between the monitor and the live studio. Lizzie was being bleeped. He turned to Penny. “What’s your take on this?” he said.

Penny shrugged. “She can’t help herself. Every sentence that ends with ‘that’s what I heard’ is something she’s made up. That’s where she heard it – her own voice.”

Brewster shook his head. “I meant the bleeping. I thought they were given training in watershed swearing?”

“Our girl’s not cursing, she’s naming people,” said #Geek 1. “Or nicknaming them anyway…”

“So what’s the problem? This can’t hang, it’s bloody gibberish.”

“The names… they’re slurs. It sounds like 13 year old mean girls throwing shit across the playground.”

Brewster sighed. Despite being paid gourmet peanuts, they really didn’t get it. In future, he’d train people himself if he wanted to be understood. “Look, just cut the cutting. We don’t censor, we show. We’re the freedom channel.”

“It’ll make us look like kindergarten bullies.”

“Well, we’re not. We’re a mirror. We show what people want to see and hear.”

Brewster had grasped the inescapable truth of modern media ahead of the curve. News channels were playing catch up. Audiences wanted entertainment, not information. Rather than explaining the ways of the world to viewers, now viewers told them what they wanted to see.

NEWS HAD TO BE SHAPED TO FIT THE TARGET MARKET

People wanted their own prejudices and desires reinforced. If it was bigotry, or dislike for certain personalities, the hate should be celebrated, not criticised. Right-wing voters would lambast a conservative network as Marxist wokeism if any report diverged from their preconceived opinion. News had to be shaped to fit the target market.

“But, they’re lying. Anyone can see that…”

“Even better. We’ll use the Tucker defence if the fan gets clogged.”

Tucker Carlsson was a Fox News presenter taken to court over malicious lies and misinformation in daily broadcasts. His defence argued his outpourings were so clearly exaggerated and ridiculous that no sane, reasonable person could believe them. Despite the millions who tuned in and regurgitated, hook, line and slander.

“These are real people…” said Penny. “There’s a line…”

Brewster cut her off. “We’re a news channel. This is news, even if it’s not true.”

So Lizzie and Dan were unmuted. It didn’t take long for the news to pour in as fast as it poured out. When Dan and Lizzie cast aspersions on a small cafe serving bitter coffee (“I wouldn’t trust her not to spit in it”) the reaction was swift.

A local thug, #REDACTED#, who’d previously been banned from the place, decided to mete out justice, now it was necessary. He’d seen it on TV and didn’t need another excuse. He walked in, pushed behind the counter, picked up a freshly made pot of coffee and threw the scalding jug into the waitress’s face. She suffered second degree burns.

“Who knows, maybe there was something about the coffee?” said Brewster.

Two stories for the price of one. It was happening.

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