A balloon depicting President Donald Trump as a diaper-clad infant, snarling and clutching a phone in one of his tiny hands, entered the skies of London on Friday, and one CNN reporter’s coverage summed up the moment well.
British CNN correspondent Nick Payton Walsh was described by an anchor as “all over the Trump baby balloon” as she excitedly announced it had “taken to the skies.”
“What is the latest?” the anchor inquired, as though she were covering a murder trial or was on the front lines of a great battle.
“Obviously, not many major stunning developments here,” Walsh replied dryly. “It’s been up in the air for 35 minutes. Nothing’s changed there.”
A giant “Trump Baby” balloon has been inflated near Britain’s Houses of Parliament, amid protests at President Trump’s controversial visit to the UK: https://t.co/lhuZvCbLAL pic.twitter.com/JkJu1xWIID
— CNN (@CNN) July 13, 2018
I’ve got to say, hearing a seasoned reporter give a detailed analysis of a balloon was reason enough to love this thing’s existence. More to the point, Walsh’s commentary reflected what we really had here: a hyped-up symbol of resistance to Trump that, as usual, underwhelmed.
This balloon was widely anticipated. BuzzFeed reported the “art activists” behind it came up with the idea in December, spending months crowdsourcing, designing and building it before Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom. The New York Times reported on London Mayor Sadiq Khan giving permission to fly it for two hours. The Wall Street Journal wrote of the balloon that would “fly over London” during Trump’s visit, and Talking Points Memo wrote it will “grace London’s skies.”
Well, here it is.
The giant Trump baby is now glaring at Parliament pic.twitter.com/jJF7B2SBWl
— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) July 13, 2018
Headlines vs reality pic.twitter.com/LInT4vKHSW
— Elliott Schwartz (@elliosch) July 13, 2018
Here it is from another angle. Absolutely yuuge pic.twitter.com/GDPcs6eeat
— Bobby LeBobson (@BLeBobson) July 13, 2018
You could be forgiven for expecting something a bit more … grandiose.
Protest organizers said they want to “make sure [Trump] knows that all of Britain is looking down on him,” which makes an undersized balloon you have to look up at a strange metaphor decision indeed.
NPR, The Guardian, Washington Post, MSNBC, Politico, and Reuters all had coverage of the 19-foot-ballon, or “blimp.” For comparison’s sake, one of the new Goodyear Blimps is 246 feet long and 64 feet wide. The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, CBS, and TIME marveled at the “giant balloon.”
It got Trump’s attention, at least, who mentioned the balloon while discussing his decision not to visit London during his Britain visit.
“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” he said.
It could be on his home soil at some point, as there’s already talk of a “global tour” for the balloon. Some ill-advised Twitterers even suggested it should be in the Thanksgiving Day parade.
I hate to deflate them, but that’s a bad idea.
— Bailey Barker (@BBarker88) November 23, 2017
— plugon (@plugon_us) November 23, 2017
Is watching the @Macys Parade a Thanksgiving Day tradition for anyone? If Shades sponsored a balloon, it’d definitely be Charlie Brown delivering #OutForDeliveryMovie to your door step! #MacysParade pic.twitter.com/19rSd2OidU
— Shades Mountain Baptist Church (@shadesmtn) November 23, 2017