In the opening minutes of Nigel Farage’s first segment on GB News, he asks repeatedly, “Why am I here?”, citing the problems of the fledgling news channel as issues that might have put commentators off. The repeated question is less existentialist philosophising than vaguely comic: after seven failed bids for the House of Commons, the decline of UKIP, and the near-finalisation of Brexit, surely you don’t have too much else to do, Nigel?
Farage’s promise to his viewers is to present a wide range of views – people and opinions that disagree with him will be given equal airtime. A laudable aim, but Farage delights in calling the segment “Barrage the Farage”.
Regardless, Farage is able to host a range of opinions on the programme: whilst the GB News YouTube channel insists on calling one segment “Nigel Farage clashes with Amnesty UK’s refugee & migrant rights director”, the truth is that both Farage and Steve Valdez-Symonds were able to voice their opinions. Farage has built so much of his career on discussing migrants and asylum seekers to the UK; he expresses anti-migrant sentiments and disagrees with the Amnesty director, but the segment is remarkably civil.
Despite its name, “Barrage the Farage” may prove something of a disappointment for those who dislike the presenter: on yesterday’s installment, he was asked his opinions on e-scooters. Hardly a policy that would make the side of a bus.
One of the segments that sets the programme aside from more traditional news broadcasting is the “Talking Pints” feature: on Monday, Farage had a pint with Vince Cable, and yesterday with Anne Widdecombe (although Twitter was divided over whether the former MP was drinking a flat Guinness or a Coke). Previous guests include Graham Brady (Chairman of the 1922 Committee) and Stanley Johnson.
There is something quite mesmerising about being a fly on the wall watching a Farage pub trip – complete with guffaws, toasts to Brexit, and pauses to take a gulp. But neither Farage nor any of his guests are yet to finish their pint during the segment. Perhaps if there was slightly more drinking, and marginally less talking, viewers might be treated to some more shocking revelations and gossip…