I think this is an example of what I called, years ago, the North Atlantic Bullshit Conveyor, taking inspiration from the ocean currents that carry warm water from the Caribbean up the US East Coast and then across the Atlantic to Northern Europe. Instead of warm water, the NABC circulated hot air between the US and UK through the integration of the two countries’ media markets. This is why the same fads turn up on both sides, the same people pop up at different stages of their careers, why Tories imagine “teaching unions” are a thing, why Piers Morgan is famous, why Simon Cowell was able to sell the idea of a TV talent show to the Americans not once but twice, and eventually, how Donald Trump was invented – he’s a blow-by of the same enormous export triumph.
Updating this, I would go as far as to say that the so-called “Anglosphere” is in fact one and the same as the NABC. The chart shows very well that several English-speaking countries have become politically synchronized. Outrage sloshes out of one into the others. The driver of this synchronicity is the conveyor – a transmission belt between them, to use a Marxist trope. Its impact has progressively increased with the development of the media and especially the Internet, which permits users as well as professionals to partake. Journalists’ adoption of Twitter is an important factor here. It’s not surprising that even the idea of an Anglosphere is a journalistic creation.
There are several levels in the conveyor. In its original model, warmer waters tend to flow nearer the surface and colder ones deeper down; it’s not unusual for the direction of flow to be opposite at different levels in the water column. In ours, at one level, chancers migrate towards bigger funding sources, from Australia and New Zealand towards the UK and from the UK towards the USA. At another level, fads and ideas migrate from the more powerful megaphones in the US towards the UK and Canada. The obvious outlier on the chart is New Zealand, and I would argue that it’s protected from the conveyor because quite simply it’s not that big of a market. Ambitious Kiwis may migrate towards the cash but nobody is really that excited about either selling their daft TV show there, or propagandizing it with their stupid idea.
Media products are yet a further level – they are rather different in that the flows are closer to balance, not least because they have an audience and must sell, rather than being a subsidy economy dependent on the whims of eccentric-billionaire funders. The UK exports a lot of media, about £8bn/year at the last count in 2018, even Australia occasionally gets a hit. Tellingly, although the pre-Brexit UK was a major base for broadcasting across Europe, the conveyor was never really extended onto the continent. Not only was there a language barrier, this was commercial activity, and someone had to actually want to watch it rather than paying for it to promote their eccentric notions.