“I’m going to be giving this remarkable new TV channel my unvarnished views on everything—from Russia, China, the war in Ukraine, how we meet all those challenges, to the huge opportunities that lie ahead for us. Why I think our best days are yet to come,” Johnson said in a video statement.
If you are anything like us, this recent news coupled with this statement probably made you shudder. Boris Johnson has a long history of problematic behaviour in and outside of his political career. Consequently, most netizens, myself included, aren’t too keen on his views gaining a prominent platform within a major media organisation.
“This has to be a joke. The guy has less credibility than Tony Blair,” one TikToker commented about the news. Unfortunately, it’s not. “Rest in Peace GB News,” another commented. “GB News is finished and this country is finished,” someone else stated.
Well, Boris Johnson isn’t exactly a stranger to the realm of journalism. In the past, he has worked as a reporter and political commentator for publications such as The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Spectator. Nevertheless, he was sacked from his job at The Times due to allegations that he fabricated a quote from historian Colin Lucas, who coincidentally is his godfather.
During his stint at The Daily Telegraph, he was also accused of publishing many exaggerated or invented stories about the European Union, also known as ‘Euromyths’ as well as making some exaggerations about the growth of the UK economy. Not exactly the hard-hitting journalism one would hope for, right?
And then there is also his fraught and contested tenure as Prime Minister. In September 2022, Johnson stepped down from the position due to the controversy surrounding a ‘bring your own booze’ party held at 10 Downing Street during the country’s first COVID-19 lockdown.
The incident led to a no-confidence vote, which Johnson narrowly survived, and triggered mass resignations by members of his cabinet, including one Rishi Sunak. Then there was also the infamous ‘Wallpapergate’. The scandal occurred in 2021 after former advisor Dominic Cummings claimed that Johnson had asked Conservative donors to foot the bill for his expensive refurbishment of number 10. The refurbishments cost more than £200,000 against an annual budget of £30,000 for renovations, according to The Independent. The scandal was said to herald Johnson’s downfall but here we are. Still very much thriving.
So, how did this deal happen? Well, Johnson might be problematic but so is GB News. The controversial broadcaster had to sack one of its presenters, Laurence Fox, in October over derogatory and misogynistic comments he made about a female journalist. The company also made headlines when its news presenter Bev Turner defended Russell Brand after allegations of sexual assault were made against the actor and comedian. Turner went as far as to call Brand “a hero.”
In the same month, frequent GB News guest and conservative commentator Connor Tomlinson also argued against women experiencing misogyny in the media during a televised debate on Sky News.
Considering that the media company is now hiring Johnson, it seems like it is trying to double down on controversy and polarising opinions, rather than moving away from them.
Consequently, this might be a match made in problematic heaven rather than the end of GB News as many netizens are suggesting. In the grand scheme of things, this new partnership with Johnson appears to be a seamless continuation of GB News’ enduring affinity for controversy, rather than a sudden departure from its established path of reporting.