The Rorschach of Boris Johnson: How the British media paints a bizarro-version of the Prime Minister

He’s not the messiah, he’s not even a naughty boy, he’s a criminal incompetent

When I look at Boris Johnson, I see a Billy Bunterish bullshitter who doesn’t even have the discipline to be a proper dictator, preferring instead to be a mundanely malevolent force in the world. Not for Johnson the iron fist that Gordon Brown was allegedly keen on using; instead the Prime Minister offers us the limp dick, which has been used time and time again to screw someone else’s wife, but is now used to fuck the all of us.

But my dismal view of the Prime Minister is not shared by the senior political journalists in the national press, a group of chancers so supine that it is surprising to discover that they have not simple devolved into backboneless jellyfish people, slumping their way along Whitehall in search of anonymously-sourced gossip, and planktonic eggs to be snaffled. (And yes, I did have to Google: “What do jellyfish eat?”

Following Boris Johnson’s pitiful press conference performance, last night — another Churchill cosplay nightmare where he was flanked by Professor Chris Witty (played by the turtle from Creature Comforts) and Sir Patrick Vallance (your step-dad who tries to be hip by asking you if you like the music of Stormy “…or whatever his name is.”) — the leading (low) lights of the political press were quick to praise him.

Consider this from the Today Programme’s Nick Robinson, a shell of a human who, at one point, was a journalist but now interviews people with all the focus of a man with an undiagnosed concussion and the long-term memory of a lumpfish:

That is not analysis. It is simply scatting with words. “The wartime leader is back,” suggests that there was a wartime leader to start with. It buys into the rhetoric that the process of taking on the pandemic is a “war”. We’ve heard that kind of talk from ministers throughout the crisis, with speeches that imply coronavirus is a kind of microscopic enemy state capable of understanding our strategy and deploying new ways to undermine it. That’s stupid when politicians say it, but it’s especially stupid when a senior journalist regurgitates it unquestioned.

The problem really is that Robinson is always groping for a dramatic line, one eye on what his legacy will be, and what he will look like in the journalistic equivalent of his Big Brother best bit montage. You can see that in every interview he undertakes, where attempts at finding a killer question often supersede simply getting at the facts. He is far from the only senior political reporter to suffer from this disease. Many of them talk as if they are trying to draft a history book while simultaneously doing a two-way on the 10 o’clock news.

When it comes to Boris Johnson, journalists have a particular problem: Johnson was, at least in name only, a journalist before he became a politician and kept it up as a lucrative sideline even as he was plying his trade as a terrible backbencher. Journalists — bad ones at least — are bamboozled by big words and clownish acts of attention-seeking. Boris Johnson’s “hey! look over there!” method of politics is perfect for taking on a press pack of over-caffeinated, insensible rubes. Had he been required to face Robin Day, for instance, or the unimpressed hangdog demeanour of Brian Redhead, Boris Johnson would have been revealed as the emperor striding down the high street with his dick out, boasting about his expensive new suit, far earlier in the process.

Boris Johnson is a political Rorschach test. Unfortunately, the UK’s national political press are like Mark Corrigan in Peep Show, terrified of seeing a “hungry devouring twat” in the images, so instead insist that in Boris Johnson they see a beautiful flower. That’s entirely wrong. If the Prime Minister is any flower, he is the Titan Arum — the corpse flower — and the death of which he smells is the 43,000 and counting UK citizens lost to Coronavirus.