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Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

Next week I’ll be writing this diary from my favourite city in the whole world, Washington DC. It will be my first visit there since the autumn of 2012, when I covered the re-election of Barack Obama. This time I’ll be there because Donald Trump will be sworn in as President during my LBC Drivetime show.

Washington in January can be a very cold and bleak place, but on a sunny winter’s day it can also be very beautiful indeed. My great fear is that we get one of those famous east coast snowfalls, though. Normally I’d regard such a thing as a great adventure, but since my dad’s funeral will take place on the following Monday, I have a natural fear of not getting back in time.

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Regular readers will know that I don’t have a massively high opinion of America’s new president. However, even I had some sympathy this week when he had to deal with unverified and rather lurid allegations involving Russian and activities which The Sun described as ‘cavorting’ – one of those words beloved by tabloid newspapers but rarely used by normal people in real life.

What has it come to when so-called reputable news organisations publish what can only be described as tittle-tattle? The BBC’s Ten O’Clock news programme on Wednesday was among the worst offenders, revelling in providing viewers with full details of all the single-sourced allegations, and their reporter Paul Wood sounding as anti-Trump as you could be.

Contrast this account with the ensuing saccharine-based report from Chicago on Barack Obama’s farewell speech. It was as if he had died. The reporter did everything but break down in tears at the departure from office of this allegedly titanic figure.

The contrast in the respective treatments of Trump and Obama could not be more stark. BBC television news editors should look at their own editorial guidelines, for I am pretty sure they breached them on Wednesday.

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I come into London most days by train, using the Tonbridge line into Charing Cross. It’s run by Southeastern. By and large the service is not bad, with most trains running to time, and with relatively modern rolling stock. Southeastern is run by the same company as runs Southern Rail – Govia. How it can run one franchise area fairly efficiently whilst appearing to be completely incompetent in a neighbouring only it can explain.

It may well be the case that the two rail unions concerned, ASLEF and the RMT, are continuing to hold Govia to ransom over the operation of driver-only operated trains, but Southern Rail has been a shambles for some time. Passengers who use the service are at the end of their collective tether.

The Transport Secretary is a man who prides himself on being knowledgeable about the railways (and I can vouch for the fact that he is). As a commuter himself, he will be familiar with the frustrations of passengers who cannot rely on their trains to get themselves to work each day.

I think the time is rapidly approaching – and some would say it passed a long time ago – for him to intervene and relieve Govia of the Southern Rail franchise. Its management has proved itself to be a complete and utter failure. The only thing stopping him is the fact that he couldn’t be seen to be giving into the rail unions. But this situation cannot be allowed to continue for much longer, as local MPs are doubtless telling him.

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Over Christmas, we bought a rather large new television. Since then I’ve hardly watched any normal TV and instead have been binging on series via Netflix and Amazon Prime. On Wednesday night I finished watching The Crown, a ten episode drama detailing the early years of The Queen’s reign. It’s one of the best things I have seen on TV in years. It must have had a massive budget given the lavish sets. The acting is brilliant, especially by Claire Foy who plays the Queen and Matt Smith who plays the Duke of Edinburgh. Others stars of the show are the actors who play Princess Margaret and Winston Churchill. It’s worth a subscription to Netflix on its own.

The other series I’d recommend is Designated Survivor, if you like politically themed dramas as much as I do. Kiefer Sutherland is the star: he plays a junior US cabinet minister who is thrust into the presidency after the entire US political establishment is killed in a terrorist attack on Capitol Hill during the President’s State of the Union address. Rather like an MP is held hostage during the Queen’s Speech, a member of the US cabinet or Congress has the same experience during the State of the Union, and on this occasion that duty falls to Sutherland. The series then tracks the aftermath and the challenges that Sutherland faces as a rather hapless and inexperienced politician who has greatness thrust on him. It’s preposterous in many ways – but hugely entertaining.

Finally, if you have Amazon Prime, take a look at The Man In The High Castle. It’s a counterfactual drama set in the United States during the early 1960s, with Germany having won World War Two. The USA has been split into three parts, with Germany occupying the eastern and central parts, the Japanese the West Coast and a neutral zone in between. It has a bit of a slow start, but once you get into it, it’s quite gripping. And if you don’t like that there’s always The Grand Tour, starring Jeremy Clarkson and his two mates!

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If you haven’t already done so, do download my weekly Brexit Briefing podcast on iTunes. It’s posted each Friday morning, and this week features a sparky debate between Nicky Morgan and Paul Nuttall.

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That awkward moment when you’re a Cabinet Minister meeting an ex-Cabinet Minister for breakfast in a posh Westminster eatery…and the waiter decides to sit you at the next table to two of Westminster’s biggest gossips.

All I’ll tell you is that Andrew Pierce and I weren’t the cabinet ministers in question.  Suffice it to say they insisted on moving to a table over the other side of the restaurant. Was it something we said?

121 comments for: Iain Dale: The BBC’s flagrant bias for Obama and against Trump

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