This article engages with the understandings, responses and news viewing frameworks of young multi-ethnic, working-class Londoners following the war in Iraq and the so-called 'War on Terror'. Is television news itself viewed as a monolithic entity, either in its own right or as the mouthpiece of whichever regime is in power? Are some viewers more prone to accept the invitations of certain television news discourses than others, while some remain aloof, sceptical and critical? Based on a sustained qualitative analysis of audience research in East London, this article problematizes the often taken-for-granted answers to these questions. It urges a rethinking of simplistic assumptions about the connections between discourses on the TV screen and in the living room. It finds unusual gaps and connections between discourses used by politicians at given points in time and those that affect communities in their material and psychic life in particular places.