BBC’s lead anchor, Katty Kay, spoke Monday evening at Hall Auditorium as part of the Miami University Lecture series. As a British journalist covering American politics, Kay talked about her “view from outside” and her take on all things President Donald Trump.
“So you try explaining Donald Trump to the rest of the world,” Kay began, “because that’s my job at the moment. Every single paper I read in Europe during the election campaign was incredibly bewildered, dismayed by, curious and concerned about the election of Donald Trump.”
Kay addressed a few of the reasons she believes Trump came to power, coming from her experience traveling around the country and, specifically, around the rust-belt in Ohio. She also said the populist political sentiments being felt in the U.S. are in Europe, as well.
“The feeling of people being forgotten, the feeling that immigration has meant that some people have suffered, the feeling that globalization has left some people behind, that is exactly what you heard in the German election that we just had on Sunday,” Kay said. “In fact, in Germany, we interviewed people that described themselves as ‘the forgotten men and women.’ Exactly the same language as people describing themselves here.”
In other ways, Kay said, the United States differs extremely from Europe, politically speaking.
“Nobody does elections like the United States,” she said. “That’s why it’s so much fun to cover them. They are longer — God they are longer. They are more expensive — way more expensive. And no one gives us Sarah Palin and Donald Trump in a space of eight years, and as a political reporter, I thank you for that — that is like crack to a political reporter.”
From a journalistic standpoint, Kay talked about how exhausting it is to cover this administration, unlike the previous three she’d covered.
“It’s like covering politics on steroids,” she said. “Just take the headlines today: the NFL story, Jared Kushner’s emails, North Korea … You have a massive prospect of the potential, serious potential, of a war with a nuclear power. All of the oxygen in the journalism and political system gets sucked up by the president’s tweets.”
Which is why, Kay said, the hurricane in Puerto Rico got almost no media coverage — Trump hasn’t tweeted about it.
“We, as news consumers, have to become more savvy about what we are reading on the internet,” Kay said. “It’s not going to get any better. The onus is not just on news consumers, but it’s on people like me in news organizations that deal with facts. We have to keep doing a better job.”
Kay ended her lecture on a positive note.
“The institutions of the country are strong and resilient,” she said. “Journalists are doing their jobs. They are holding politicians to account in both parties. The courts are doing their jobs. And the political process is working. The civil service is doing its job. … And the other thing that’s been encouraging is the number of women who put their hands up and said they want to run for political office.”