February 11, 2023
In News Russia and Ukraine Russia-Ukraine War
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Britain today to request increased military assistance, including fighter jets.
Readers who turned to the BBC for analysis were treated to the following insights.
– Western foreign policy is driven by ‘compassion’:
President Zelensky is acutely aware of the need to keep his Western backers engaged in this war lest ‘compassion fatigue’ kicks in and the supply of arms and financial aid dries up.
– Major military decisions are ‘directly’ determined by whether politicians have enjoyed a speech:
But he knows that his powerful charisma and persuasive rhetoric can translate directly into the military aid packages Ukraine relies on.
– References to ‘freedom’, ‘grit’, ‘tea’, and ‘Churchill’ constitute ‘persuasive rhetoric’:
President Zelensky said: ‘Freedom will win[‘] … Thanking the UK for its ‘grit‘ … [H]e recalled thanking his hosts ‘for delicious English tea‘ … The president had made a reference to Sir Winston Churchill ..
– Zelensky is an Angel sent from Heaven above:
Mr Zelensky was bathed in sunlight streaming through stained glass windows that are a memorial to those lost in two world wars…
Already before his arrival, reporters were consumed with an ‘excitement‘ that ‘buil[t]’ and built throughout the day — look at his ‘combat clothing‘! think of his ‘trademark military-style T-shirt‘! — until, finally, it was consummated in a public physical embrace:
The next question comes from Natalia, a journalist with the BBC’s Ukrainian service. She starts her comments in Ukrainian, before getting up and receiving a hug from Zelensky…
(Herewith a video of BBC journalism in action. Warning: NSFW.)
Not everyone was impressed by this display; a fellow reporter, addressing Zelensky, vowed:
I will come and see you after the press conference because I would like to get a hug as well.
Fortunately a correspondent from The Sun got proceedings back on track:
Mr President, on behalf of our millions of Sun readers, I would just like to say, Welcome and Slava Ukraini!
But even as British politicians lined up behind Zelensky — Labour leader Starmer ‘said MPs must speak with one voice on the topic’, Prime Minister Sunak ‘agreed’ — the curmudgeonly watchdogs of the press didn’t entirely abandon themselves to this ‘consensual‘ love-fest. Faced with a spectacle orchestrated by one government hoping to receive weapons and another hoping to dispatch them, our fearless muckrakers demanded to know:
‘Don’t you think that that decision about war planes is taking too long?’ (BBC Ukraine, postcoitus)
‘Will they get them? And if so, when?’ (ITV)
‘Why not send more so they can finish off the job now?’ (Sky News)
One BBC analyst marveled at Zelensky’s mastery of ‘the power of PR‘. Indeed, isn’t it striking what can be done, with only the entire corporate and state media on side?