This Week is one of RTEs flagship news and current affairs programmes. On its website the programme is described as:
A look at events making the news in the past week with Colm O’Mongain and Richard Crowley.
The words to note here are ‘current’ and ‘events making the news in the past week’.
One of the major stories that dominated the news last week was the very serious allegations made against NAMA by Mick Wallace TD. Not only has this story potentially very serious consequence for Irish citizens but it also involves the Government, law enforcement agencies and politicians from our nearest neighbour in the UK and a possible investigation by the corrupt practices investigations unit attached to the US Department of Justice.
In a functional democracy there is absolutely no way a national broadcaster would ignore this very serious event in one of its flagship news and current affairs programmes, it simply would not happen.
It is very reasonable for Irish citizens to conclude that RTE/This Week made a conscious decision not to cover this politically explosive scandal as a result of political and/or business pressure.
The producers of News and current affairs programmes can reasonably argue that they have to prioritise what they will cover according to the importance and immediacy of events, hence the blurb on This Week’s website, ‘A look at events making the news in the past week.’
The producers of yesterday’s programme obviously did not think the very serious allegations against NAMA, which are linked to the political, law enforcement, business and administrative sectors of our nearest neighbour, were important enough to cover on the show.
Again, the producers of This Week can reasonably argue that other stories were indeed more important and therefore it was reasonable to give them priority.
So let’s have a look at the stories that the producers thought were more important than the NAMA scandal.
First item: The Greek crisis. This is an immediate, important and ongoing story that requires deep analysis and reporting. It did not, however, warrant a full 45 minutes (out of less than 60 minutes) of reporting and analysis.
Second item: Reaction to reports on the future of IAGs Aer Lingus London slots.
This is not a major story and most certainly is not more important than the NAMA scandal. No independent producer would give priority to this story over the NAMA allegations.
Third item: The ongoing imprisonment of Ibrahim Halawa in Egypt. This is not a major story. Again, there is no possibility that a truly independent producer would give priority to this story and ignore a major national/international financial scandal that had just come to light.
There can be only three reasons for the omission of the NAMA story from the This Week programme.
One: Gross incompetence in that the producers are incapable of distinguishing between a major breaking news story and a relatively minor old story.
Two: The producers hold strong personal political/ideological views and make their decisions on that basis.
Three: The producers are under direct or indirect political/business pressure to ignore or at least minimise coverage of certain categories of news stories.
Personally, I believe the third reason is the truth but in the end it doesn’t matter in terms of RTEs credibility as an independent broadcaster.
The brutal reality is that RTE, for whatever reason, is rapidly evolving from being a professional, independent broadcaster into a propaganda puppet of the State and other interested parties.