The Headliner Podcast: Snapchat snaps, the world turns on the White House and it’s bye-bye to Big Ben’s bongs

18th August 2017

Snapchat snaps, the world turns on the White House and it’s bye-bye to Big Ben’s bongs

White nationalists gathered on Saturday for a “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, where they were met by counter protesters. Taunting led to shoving, which escalated into brawling. One person died and at least 34 people were wounded in the clashes. Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in Virginia.

President Trump prompted a firestorm by initially refusing to condemn white supremacists, choosing instead to denounce violence “on all sides”. The President did not explicitly single out white supremacists until Monday, declaring in a speech that “racism is evil”. He later doubled-down on his initial statement during an extraordinary press conference at Trump Tower, claiming that there were “very fine people” among the neo-Nazi marchers.

Jaws dropped worldwide. MSNBC host Chuck Todd said he was “shaken” by what he just heard. Fox News’ Kat Timpf told viewers she was “wondering if it was actually real life”. Brands associated with the administration – PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, Intel and Merck –publicly fled, each declaring that the hate espoused by the President had no place in their businesses.

Newspapers joined together in almost universal condemnation. And news magazines on either side of the Atlantic, The Economist and the New Yorker, released covers depicting Trump as a mouthpiece for the KKK.

Besides Thursday’s tragic terror attack in Barcelona, little else has succeeded in shoving the story off the front pages.

In the business world, there’s another bogeyman spooking the stock market. Snap Inc, the maker of GenZ favourite Snapchat opened for trading on Tuesday this week at $13.05 per share, half what it opened at in March at its high. In the following days, it made the full media journey from disruptive upstart to cautionary tale.

Snap Inc has suffered at the hands of its larger rivals Facebook and Apple which expanded their messaging services to accommodate Snapchat’s unique format. But it was poor timing that led to its rapid devaluation—according to many analysts, its IPO simply came too late.

Its first trick was making selfies disappear, wrote Fortune. “Its latest is sending gargantuan piles of cash into the ether.” Oh dear.

Finally, it was announced this week that the Palace of Westminster’s famous bell, Big Ben, will be silenced for four years to protect the hearing of builders working on a £29million renovation of Elizabeth Tower. And if you thought that was reasonable and responsible to the poor people doing the renovations within the tower, well, you’d be ‘bonkers,’ according to many MPs and more than a sprinkling of news editors.

The Daily Mail is predictably livid with a front-page lead over two consecutive days. Tuesday’s ‘Death knell for common sense’ and Wednesday’s ‘Bong! Now a Big Ben climbdown’ beat Trump, Brexit and Philip Green in a champagne shower for top billing.

The Daily Telegraph has done its usual terribly grown-up thing of reporting on a reaction rather than explicitly reacting (while also subtly agreeing with everything that’s been said).
The Sun, uncharacteristically indifferent in its morning editorial, later picked up on Twitter hysteria—its online team was soon reporting MPs’ wild-eyed statements of misplaced nationalism. Don’t bin Big Ben’s bongs, it cried. ‘Health and safety succeeds where the Luftwaffe failed.’

And lo, we were all talking about Hitler again.