260 days. Potentially 1202 more. Days under Trump’s Presidency. Love it or loathe it, this was my first Cheltenham Literature Festival event of the year and we were gonna hear all about it.
A panel of President pundits came together to look back over the last nine months and see what’s changed, for better or worse. Leading the conversation was the token American Amy Walter, who asked some thought provoking questions as well as providing the away team’s perspective. To her left was BBC North America Editor and author Jon Sopel who took no time at all to thank everyone for coming and subtly plug his book “If Only They Didn’t Speak English”. Up next to him was Sarah Baxter, the deputy editor of the Sunday Times and sitting on the end, Adam Boulton, Sunday Times political columnist and editor-at-large for Sky News. Quite the line up eh?
The hour long debate was jam packed full of food for thought as well as no nonsense statements. Jon and Sarah provided light hearted anecdotes referring to their own careers such as meeting an American who compared having 7 Kalashnikov’s to owning 7 pairs of shoes, making them seem witty and relatable. Amy kept the conversation flowing, introducing new topics when appropriate whilst Adam covered the drier topics. Together, the four balanced each other nicely.
Along with jovial comparisons of Trump to May, Sanders to Corbyn and the presidential election to Brexit, the debate and discussion lead further into serious issues of gun crime, the recent shootings in Las Vegas and the historical and cultural importance of weaponised laws in the USA. I was in awe of how tactfully yet simply they spoke of sensitive subjects like these along with race, religion and culture.
The talk of what should have been heavy subjects felt as light as a feather and easily consumable. It was a joy to be able to listen to such sensible political chatter in amongst a whirlwind of thrown around social media statuses’ and lies from media outlets.
I hung on every word they said, fascinated by the sea of knowledge the four of them shared. I can’t get over how well put everything was and I can only hope to be able to speak like them in the future. All sounds rather gushing doesn’t it? But I really was constantly scribbling down quotes in my notepad…
They rounded up the talk touching on the role of the media within the current climate and the danger of fake news living up to the attention that Trump has kindly given it. They ended on a personal interest point for me, how the liberal media fuel the fire that Trump has started, and called out tech giants such as Facebook and Google to step up to the plate.