GB News broadcaster claims it's hard to know 'who the bad guys are' amid war between Russia and Ukraine
We can’t quite believe it’s been a year of GB News on the airwaves, nor can we believe some of the ridiculous, shocking and hilarious clips which have come out of the right-wing news channel since it started back on 13 June 2021.
What began with the likes of former BBC presenters Andrew Neil and Simon McCoy, has now become a platform for Nigel Farage, Tom Harwood, Darren Grimes and Eamonn Holmes.
Describing themselves as “disrupters” who ensure conversations “set an example by treating others the way would we [sic] expect to be treated” – we laughed out loud when we read that part of their editorial charter - GB News’ say they deal with issues “swiftly and fairly”.
Yet looking back at the past 12 months, there’s certainly been a few ongoing issues which have plagued the controversial channel, and we’ve rounded all up all of the wildest moments like some nationalist nostalgia trip.
1. The adverts drama
Not long after it launched was GB News having trouble with advertisers. Cider brand Kopperberg said an ad for their products “ran on this channel without our knowledge or consent” and so they “immediately suspended our ads from this channel pending further review”.
Other companies who pulled out of advertising included Dutch beer brand Grolsch, Nivea, the Open University, Octopus Energy, Specsavers, Ovo Energy and the car insurer LV.
In a bizarre retaliation following the boycotts – but specifically the decision by Specsavers – controversial anti-vaxxer Laurence Fox said he would be returning an award he had received from the opticians.
2. The pranksters
The channel soon realised that being committed to hearing the views of the Great British public may not be such a great idea if a large amount of them think your broadcasting is a bit pants.
Pranks soon followed, with critics deciding to mail in with names you’d typically hear barman Moe Szyslak yell on an episode of The Simpsons.
Mike Oxlong, Mike Hunt and Hugh Janus were just some of the classics, of course, and the Very Serious GB News presenters were not having it.
“Some people think it’s really funny to send in texts and messages on the basis that if we read them out, we’ve been had.
“They’re still doing it and I’m watching them and it doesn’t help anybody.
“Grow up. We’re a new company, we’re a new broadcaster [and] there are systems that we are putting in that would stop idiots like you from getting through.
“They’re getting through at the moment but, please, we’ve got other things to worry about.”
Co-host Alex Phillips, who now has her own show following McCoy’s eventual departure, added they were “just not going to read surnames from now on”.
Other pranks in the broadcaster’s short history include someone asking Laurence Fox a question with his bum out (you could see it in the mirror) and another contributor writing a secret message mocking the channel on a whiteboard behind them.
3. Oh, and someone was being sick in the background of one interview
Here\u2019s what one theatre worker in Hull thinks to the potential Freedom Day delaypic.twitter.com/27pMiKAp1k
From typos in the chyrons (that’s the fancy banners at the bottom of the screen), to people walking in shot, and there being no shot at all, the launch of GB News was far from smooth.
5. Confusing a computer virus with that other big virus
In case you don’t already know, GB News likes to criticise a life-saving coronavirus vaccine and its efficacy, and when one guest was talking about viruses, presenter Mercy Muroki probed deeper.
“How worried should we be that China is now doing this? As a lot of people don’t trust China right now,” she asked.
Except the guest was actually talking about computer viruses, and the potential disaster it could cause up in space.
6. When Lady Colin Campbell claimed Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t a paedophile
During a debate around Prince Andrew and his impact on the royal family amid his relationship with the deceased serial sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Lady Colin Campbell wanted to make clear that Epstein was not a paedophile, but an ephebophile – someone attracted to teenagers aged between 15 and 19.
Well it\u2019s certainly different.pic.twitter.com/HrS2bIy1Lg
She told presenter Dan Wootton: “Jeffrey Epstein was an ephebophile. Paedophile is pre-pubescent, hebephile is transitional into adolescence, and post-pubescent is ephebophile. He was an ephebophile.”
7. When Lord Sugar slagged off Dan Wootton
Alan Sugar, spends his segment slagging off Dan Wooton's "stupid" questions and telling Wooton (of his former employer) that the only thing you can believe in The Sun is "the date and price on the front page."\n\nDon't think he'll be booked again.pic.twitter.com/pIusS0mAXD
The anti-racist gesture from Harri angered some of GB News’ viewership, considering the broadcaster branded itself as ‘anti-woke’, and it wasn’t long before GB News issued a statement in response to the incident on Twitter.
On Tuesday a contributing presenter took the knee live on air and this was an unacceptable breach of our standards.
They wrote: “GB News stands four square against racism in all its forms. We do not have a company line on taking the knee. Some of our guests have been in favour, some against. All are anti-racist. We have editorial standards that all GB News journalists uphold.
“On Tuesday a contributing presenter took the knee live on air and this was an unacceptable breach of our standards.”
And don’t worry, you’re not the only one who thinks the two tweets were contradictory.
Sources later told The GuardianHarri had been suspended “indefinitely” and eventually, he was no longer part of the broadcaster’s line-up.
9. Catching Covid “for the sake of freedom”
In one of his anti-vaxxer monologues, presenter Neil Oliver proudly claimed “if your freedom means that I might catch Covid from you then so be it”.
“If my freedom means that you might catch Covid from me, then so be it. That’s honestly how I see it.
ICYMI: Neil Oliver: 'For the sake of freedom \u2013 yours and mine together \u2013 I will cheerfully risk catching Covid.'\n\nSubscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0vn8ISa4LKMunLbzaXLnOQ\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/QeCJ4ZTfW5
“For the sake of freedom - yours and mine together - I will cheerfully risk catching Covid - that is a chance, one among many, I am prepared to take, and happily,” he said.
10. Picking a fight with RNLI lifesavers, only for it to backfire massively
Yes, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who was eventually offered a presenting job on GB News, really stooped that low – but are we really surprised?
Expressing his usual concern over immigration, Farage attacked the lifeboat charity for being a “taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs” by saving lives in the English Channel – his comments went on to spark a significant public outcry from Westminster politicians and members of the public.
We're proud of the lifesaving work our volunteers do in the Channel \u2013 we make no apology for it. Those we rescue are vulnerable people in danger & distress. Each of them is someone\u2019s father, mother, son or daughter - every life is precious. This is why we launch:pic.twitter.com/lORd9NRpdP
The situation prompted the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to release a video explaining “why we launch” to save migrants in trouble at sea, adding: “We’re proud of the lifesaving work our volunteers do in the Channel – we make no apology for it.
“Those we rescue are vulnerable people in danger and distress. Each of them is someone’s father, mother, son or daughter – every life is precious.”
Farage nevertheless doubled down in his criticism, using a GB News monologue to state “all I was doing is pointing out the truth” and that if the RNLI’s bosses in Poole wanted to “pick a fight with me … I’ve fought people bigger and uglier than you”.
Fortunately, some brilliance came of it, as a GoFundMe was set up to “buy a new RNLI hovercraft” called ‘The Flying Farage’, and it raised more than £140,000 which was used to cover the cost of fuel for stations in south east England.
11. A GB News poll which found that GB News wasn’t biased
13. Telling people worried about food shortages in December to think what ‘Christmas is all about’
These comments came from journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who said on GB News in October: “First of all, I do think if your Christmas joy depends on getting a particular type of turkey for lunch, or the latest must-have toy for little Johnny, I would suggest you need to take a long hard look and really have a think about what Christmas is all about.
Isabel Oakeshott: 'I do think if your Christmas joy depends on getting a particular type of Turkey for lunch, or the latest must have toy for little Johnny, I would suggest you need to take a long hard look and think about what Christmas is all about.'pic.twitter.com/CHOUwAmU6r
“Really, there’s not going to be no food in the shops and no toys, and surely a great Christmas isn’t just about whether you can buy a particular brand of this or that, but about family and friends getting together.”
The food shortages in the winter of 2021 came amid a lack of lorry drivers, which many blamed on Brexit.
14. Joanna Lumley saying ‘everyone is claiming the mental illness bandwagon’
It wouldn’t be the first time Oakeshott was surrounded in controversy, as her interview with actress Joanna Lumley led to the Absolutely Fabulous star facing condemnation on social media.
Commenting on mental health, of which Lumley has her own experience, she said it was “awful” for “everyone to say they’ve got to have some sort of special treatment”.
“When somebody dies and you grieve, that’s what being a human is. You’re not mentally ill.
"GET OVER IT!" Joanna Lumley's take on the rush to describe all sadness as "mental illness" - listen to the full podcast on my website https://www.isabeloakeshott.co.uk/home\u00a0pic.twitter.com/O6IBncxGhT
“Everybody’s claiming the mental illness bandwagon and I think that’s wrong.
“Of course, some of you are going to feel bloody awful, and some of you may well be suicidal or mentally depressed – that’s a different thing – but anybody who just goes, ‘oh, burr’, you just go, ‘get over it’,” the personality said.
15. Playing the national anthem every day
In January this year, following a fruitless campaign from Tory MP Andrew Rosindell to get the BBC to play the national anthem before switching to News 24, GB News decided they’d do it instead – playing “God Save The Queen” at the start of its live programming every day.
GB News’ editorial director Michael Booker said at the time: “We always promised we would celebrate what’s good about our country when we can, and the Queen’s 70-year reign is definitely worth celebrating.
GB News kicks off today's live programming by playing God Save the Queen.\n\nThe anthem will play out across GB News Television and GB News Radio at 5.59am every morning. \n\n\u00a0Freeview 236, Sky 515, Virgin 626.pic.twitter.com/wnkoupPj4Q
“We’ve chosen an uplifting instrumental version which, for our television viewers, will feature stunning scenes from across the UK.
“We think it’s a lovely way to start the day.”
Each to their own…
16. Defending Jimmy Carr’s gypsy Holocaust joke…
Controversial comedian Jimmy Carr attracted widespread condemnation in February when it emerged he had made a “truly disturbing” joke about the Traveller community and the Holocaust in his Netflix special, His Dark Material.
We won’t repeat it here, because it’s vile, but charities representing the marginalised community such as The Traveller Movement said it “goes way beyond humour”.
\u2018I see this as a test case for free speech, it\u2019s not about the detail of the joke it\u2019s the principle that nothing is off limits\u2019\n\nHeadliners discuss Labour MP Nadine Whittle urging Netflix to remove a joke about the Holocaust by Jimmy Carr.\n\nFreeview 236, Sky 515, Virgin 626pic.twitter.com/05FBjuuqv1
Yet GB News, rarely being one to show empathy with minorities, took a different stance, with presenter Mark Dolan commenting: “It’s a disgusting, outrageous joke because that is what Jimmy Carr does, and by the way, he’s joking.”
And yes, the above tweet from the broadcaster was supposed to say Labour MP Nadia Whittome. We don't know who Nadine Whittle is, but she sounds nice.
17. But getting upset when he mocked anti-vaxxers
Dolan wasn’t so happy when he appeared to be the butt of another joke by Carr in the comedy special, in which he took aim at those critical of the coronavirus vaccine.
We’ll repeat this one, because it’s actually funny.
“Let’s talk about the controversial thing: the vaccine. Who’s not going to take the vaccine because they think it might be dangerous? Raise your hands.
“Now take that hand, and slap yourself in the f***ing face. Hear that? That’s the voice of f***ing reason, wasn’t it?
“The spread of Covid was directly linked to how dense the population is, and some of the population was, and some of the population, really quite f***ing dense,” said Carr, singling out one audience member in particular.
'Everything is fair game for comedy.'\n\nAfter Jimmy Carr made a joke at the expense of an unvaccinated audience member, comedians Nick Dixon and Dave Chawner debate whether comedians should joke about Covid measures.pic.twitter.com/HcQYXW64WB
But Dolan, who would later go on to defend another joke from the special because it wasn’t about him, asked two of his guests: “Is it the job of Jimmy Carr to humiliate a member of the audience for having exercised a bit of bodily sovereignty?”
Fortunately, one of his guests – and a fellow comedian, at that – had the wit to respond: “Well, it’s his show.”
Precisely, and by the way, Dolan: he was joking.
18. Getting roasted by Ryanair
We’re a big fan of corporate dunking, and when the airline Ryanair decided to poke fun at GB News contributor Calvin Robinson in February, we were all here for it.
It began with Ryanair’s official Twitter account posting a tweet mocking tennis star Novax- sorry, Novak – Djokovic’s stance on the coronavirus vaccine, when he told the BBC he was “not anti-vax but will sacrifice trophies if told to get jab”.
“We’re not an airline but we do fly planes,” joked the company.
Robinson wasn’t happy, and replied: “To be fair, you barely manage that. Stick to poor quality budget travel, leave the politics to others.”
But Ryanair had a comeback: “Stick to poor quality broadcasting, leave the politics to others.”
Stick to poor quality broadcasting, leave the politics to others.https://twitter.com/calvinrobinson/status/1493545079591649288\u00a0\u2026
19. Claiming it's 'hard to figure out who the good guys are' in the Russia-Ukraine conflict
In March, GB News presenter Mark Steyn went on a rant about the ongoing war in Ukraine, making baseless claims about biolabs in the country.
But one of the most shocking remarks made by the host came as he described the scenes in Ukraine.
Are there Ukrainian biolabs that the US have failed to secure?\n\nMark Steyn addresses concerns that there may be laboratories that the US have failed to secure and could fall into Russian hands.pic.twitter.com/P8ZYKhvihs
He said: "There are innocents in Ukraine, undoubtedly - the pregnant women in labour covered in blood emerging from a shelled hospital, the dead children lying in the street.
"But it's harder to figure out who the good guys are."
We'll give Mark a hint: it's probably the country which illegally invaded another country - *cough, cough* Russia.
20. Interviewing a Tory politician about the porn-watching MP, who later admitted to being that MP
In a more recent example of GB News being utterly wild, it emerged in April that Neil Parish MP – the representative for the Devon towns of Tiverton and Honiton – had appeared on the channel to discuss claims an MP had watched pornography in the Commons, only to admit it was him days later.
Responding to a question about whether there was “a problem with the culture” in the Houses of Parliament, he told presenter Darren McCaffrey: “I don’t think there’s necessarily a huge culture here, but I think it does have to be dealt with and dealt with seriously and I think that’s what the whips will do in the whips’ office.”