RTE news bias – Destroying credibility

 

By Anthony Sheridan

When RTE was a national broadcaster the station provided a reasonably balanced news output. In recent years, however, since the station began to serve government rather than citizens, news manipulation has taken precedence over factual reporting and professional analysis.

On yesterday’s Marian Finucane Show, for example, listeners were subjected to an intelligence insulting, extremely short, cartoon-like discussion on the disturbing events that occurred on North Frederick street during the week involving Gardai and housing protesters

Panelist: In fairness, Josephine Feehily and Drew Harris came out and said, no, that shouldn’t have happened.

Finucane: And yet and yet and yet..its tough on gardai. I thought it looked… I mean I was astonished at how it had come about.

Panelist: Look, there is an issue around social media , there’s no doubt about that, but look, we expect to see people in balaclava’s in the Basque country or dealing with the Real IRA or whatever. We don’t expect to see Gardai in balaclava’s policing genuine protests about housing.

I think the public were very, very upset about it and I’m thinking of something Theo Dorgan said once ‘I thought I was born into a republic’ and you see these private balaclava-clad guards arriving in a van.

But protesting has changed, I think the Gardai are very measured in the way they handle the physical and verbal abuse they get.

Then a panelist changed the subject by referring to a protest Finucane had participated in 48 years ago. Finucane, delighted at the diversion, went on to reminisce about another protest she attended in the last century – and that was it.

That was the sum total analysis of the disgraceful and disturbing events in North Frederick street where the Gardai behaved more like second-rate nightclub bouncers than a professional police force.

Clearly under pressure by her producer to keep discussion of this embarrassing Government/Gardai scandal to an absolute minimum Finucane, in a fluster, did as she was instructed.

Mmm…well…ah…I mean..we’ll move on very quickly. I think that deserves more conversation but I’m just watching my clock here and….

Watching her clock??? The discussion was taking place just half way through a two hour long show and this major public interest story gets a grand total of 1 minute 56 seconds coverage.

This is not news analysis, it’s blatant news manipulation. No doubt, Fine Gael and the Gardai are delighted with RTEs collaboration in this type of warped current affairs analysis.

But RTE cannot escape the fact that, day by day, its reputation as a professional and balanced current affairs outlet is reaching the same zero credibility rating as that of our police force.

Copy to:

Marian Finucane Show

RTE News and Current Affairs

Why the establishment media is silent on O Cuiv’s rebellion

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Sinn Fein’s decision to field a candidate to challenge the current President has wrecked the cosy arrangement between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour to keep their man in the office.

But consider what would have happened if the following scenario had evolved. Imagine if Sinn Fein had decided to support the conservative centre and then, dramatically, a leading member of the party broke ranks and attempted to force the leadership to change its decision by putting himself forward as an independent candidate.

Here’s exactly what would have happened:

There would have been an immediate wall to wall, seven days a week attack on the party by the establishment media led by the government broadcaster, RTE.

Sinn Fein members from Mary Lou McDonald down to local councillors would be relentlessly paraded, harassed and questioned across the establishment media for reactions and explanations.

So here’s my question:

Why is the establishment media completely silent on the dramatic decision by Éamon Ó Cuív to challenge his party’s presidential election strategy by putting himself forward as an independent candidate which, by extension, constitutes a direct and very serious challenge to Michael Martin’s leadership?

Here’s the answer:

The establishment media does not serve the interests of Ireland or its people. Their loyalty lies entirely with the ruling political class made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.

The undemocratic attempt by these three parties to keep their man in the Park received strong and widespread support from the establishment media. Across radio, television and print the people were arrogantly told that they would not be getting an election, that it would be too expensive, that it would distract from Brexit and sure wasn’t ‘Michael’ doing a great job anyway.

But Sinn Fein’s strategy put a stop to all that patronising, insulting guff. Now, the establishment media has just one aim – to protect the interests of the corrupt centre of Irish politics by preventing a powerful outside force such as Sinn Fein from occupying what the ruling political class have always considered to be their personal fiefdom in the Phoenix Park.

To that end, the Irish people are about to witness the biggest, most ruthless anti-Sinn Fein propaganda campaign ever mounted by the establishment media. The campaign will, as always, be led by the cheerleader of the establishment media – the government broadcaster, RTE.

Copy to:

Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour Party, Sinn Fein

RTE/Media

Éamon Ó Cuív

RTE presenter accidentally tells the truth

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Sinn Fein held their Ard Fheis last weekend amid an increasingly tense pre election atmosphere.   And because Sinn Fein poses the greatest threat to the corrupt centre of politics, the Government broadcaster RTE, was put on full propaganda alert to badmouth the party.

However, not all of the station’s presenters were paying full attention as the following hilarious incident demonstrates.

Brendan O’Conner, standing in for Marian Finucane, had just launched the standard RTE attack on Sinn Fein when one of the panelist’s, Norah Casey, strayed from the propaganda line and began to speak in high praise of Mary lou McDonald’s inspiring leadership.

O’Connor, probably dreaming about his Sunday dinner, initially didn’t seem to notice that the discussion was drifting away from the Government propaganda line. But the monitoring producer did notice and must have screamed something like the following into O’Connor’s earpiece:

Brendan, for fuck sake, wake up. That woman is praising McDonald and Sinn Fein, put a stop to it.

Confused and flustered, O’Connor struggled to get the propaganda line back on course:

Ok…eh…but now, given that this is..eh extraordinarily…for the first time, turning into a kind of love-in of Sinn Fein.

Can Mary Lou be a feminist icon given the quite recent history of Sinn Fein/IRA and the treatment of women and everything. Are people going to forget that quickly?

Laughing, Casey teased O’Connor over his confusion:

I knew I’d wake you up Brendan

While this was an amusing little incident it is noteworthy that O’Connor, in his confusion, accidentally spoke the truth:

Extraordinarily and for the first time [my emphasis] this is turning into a love-in for Sinn Fein.

And, as listeners know very well by now, it is only by accident that Sinn Fein and other anti-establishment parties will ever get a fair hearing from RTE.

Copy to:

RTE/Brendan O’Connor

RTE journalist Claire Byrne brings Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell to heel

 

By Anthony Sheridan

RTE journalist and Bertie Ahern admirer Claire Byrne found herself having to deal with a very nasty situation at the weekend. The incident was so serious, so obnoxious that she felt compelled to give it top priority on her weekly current affairs show, Saturday with Claire Byrne.

Never mind war, famine, political crisis or international terrorism, this was a matter so serious that the politicians on the panel were pressurised by Byrne into giving an immediate judgement on the matter despite the fact that they had no prior knowledge of what had occurred.

And what was the dreadful incident?

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell posted a satirical critique of three Fianna Fail members of the Cowen family on his Facebook page.

Farrell posted a mock up poster from the movie Back to the Future, with a picture of Barry Cowen and Michael Martin (not a member of the Cowen family) accompanied by a legitimate critique of the political policies of Ber, Brian and Barry Cowen   over the past number of decades.

Probably because of her admiration for former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern Claire Byrne was outraged by this ‘attack’ on an ‘innocent’ Fianna Fail family.

She first addressed her outrage at Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty.

Byrne: And what he’s saying in each of those instances is that the Cowen family and Fianna Fail put the interests of Fianna Fail before the interests of the country. It is below the belt stuff, isn’t it Regina, it’s pretty nasty?

What!!! A Fine Gael politician makes the political point that three Fianna Fail politicians, who coincidently happen to be members of the same family, put the interests of their party before the interests of the country.

I challenge Claire Byrne to state exactly what is wrong with that opinion. What exactly is nasty, below the belt or indeed untrue about Farrell’s very funny, 100% legitimate piece of political satire?

It really is worth looking at this broadcast in detail because it’s a good example of how far the establishment media and in particular journalists in RTE have become politicised in favour of the ruling political elite.

Byrne begins by pressurising Fine Gael TD and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty into expressing outrage over the incident despite the fact that Doherty had no knowledge whatsoever of what had occurred.

Byrne:   It is below the belt stuff Regina isn’t it, it’s pretty nasty?

Doherty: (Making an immediate, uninformed judgement).

I didn’t see it until you put it in front of me a second ago. I had to double look at it to see was it a joke or somebody else. It’s not something that I could ever subscribe to. When you actually have to revert to being personal between two politicians or two political parties, I think you’ve lost the argument, I think it’s a pity.

Clearly Doherty was afraid to challenge Byrne’s outrage so she submissively fell into line.

But Byrne was not happy with that, she wanted more.

Byrne: So will you be speaking to Alan Farrell in your role as Chief Whip about that?

Doherty, probably fearing she might be seen as disloyal to a fellow member of the political elite, reassured Byrne of her willingness to deal with Farrell’s ‘pretty nasty’ behaviour.

Doherty:  I’m not happy about it but I’ve just seen it now and I’ll talk to him later on maybe.

Byrne then turned to Fianna Fail TD Jim Callaghan who also had no knowledge whatsoever of the incident but was more than willing to fall in line with Byrne’s outrage.

Byrne: Jim have you seen this?

Callaghan: No, I haven’t.

Byrne: Here I’ll just give you a copy of it there.

Callaghan: (instantly and without reading the article) I don’t like the idea of politicians referring to the families of other politicians.

He (Farrell) shouldn’t be making personal attacks on people’s family and it’s something I’d never do and I don’t think he should do it.

Later on in the programme former Environment Minister and Labour Party TD Alan Kelly also criticised Farrell’s post, saying it was “downright stupid”.

So let’s clarify where these politicians and this RTE/Fianna Fail supporting journalist stand on the issue of political critique/satire.

They believe that it is unacceptable for any politician (in this case, Alan Farrell FG) to criticise another politician (Barry Cowen FF) by referring to other members of that politician’s family who are or were politicians (Ber and Brian Cowen FF).

So, for example, the actions and policies of Brian Cowen, without doubt the most incompetent Taoiseach in Irish history, cannot be referred to in a critque of his politician brother Barry because they’re family.

Similarily, the actions and policies of the criminal Fianna Fail politician Charles Haughey can never be used in a critique of his son Sean Haughey, because they’re family.

And so on across the many, many Irish political dynasties that have done so much damage to Ireland and its people over the decades.

This, of course, is an idiotically bizarre idea because such references, such critiques are routine and totally legitimate.

So here’s the nasty truth…

Alan Farrel committed, or was perceived to have committed, the most heinious crime any Irish establishment politican can commit – he publicily mocked a fellow member of the ruling political elite.

The exchange of jibes and insults within the confines of Leinster house is fine, all politicians know it’s just a cynical game. But to publicly lampoon a fellow member of the ruling elite, particularly on a hated social media platform like Facebook, is unforgivable.

That’s probably why RTE journalist Claire Byrne was so angry, that’s probably why she used her immensely powerful media platform to bring Farrell to heel.

And it worked.

Within minutes of Byrne’s strong disapporval at this insult to her beloved Fianna Fail, the cowardly Alan Farrell removed the offending article from his Facebook page.

A disturbing example of the power of the establishment media.

 

Copy to:

Claire Byrne

Alan Farrell

Regina Doherty

Jim Callaghan

Alan Kelly

RTE complaints

RTE News and Current Affairs

Fianna Fail

Fine Gael

Formal complaint against RTE for bias

 

media-bias-in-action

By Anthony Sheridan

To Whom It May Concern:

I wish to lodge a formal complaint against RTE for breach of its Public Service Statement 2015.

My complaint centres on the biased panel selection on the Marian Finucane Show as broadcast on Sunday 4 September last.

Specifically, my complaint concerns the unbalanced and unchallenged views expressed during the discussion surrounding the Apple tax scandal.

The panel members were as follows:

Michael McDowell: Independent Senator and former Tanaiste and Minister for Justice.

Suzanne Kelly: Tax lawyer.

John McGuinness: Fianna Fail TD

Patsy McGarry: Irish Times Religious Affairs Correspondent.

Diarmuid Ferriter: Professor of Modern History at UCD.

It is reasonable to describe all the panel members and the presenter, Ms Finucane, as individuals with conservative views that are mainly in line with the governing establishment.

It is also reasonable to describe the two politicians on the panel as public representatives with strong and uncompromising views on the political outlook of those who oppose the Government’s response to the Apple tax scandal.

Left wing political parties such as Sinn Fein, Anti-Austerity Alliance, People Before Profit and others who represent a significant percentage of the population were, by their exclusion, prevented from expressing a contrary view.

This is in breach of RTEs Public Service Statement 2015.

I quote:

Ensuring its treatment of current affairs and matters of public controversy, in addition to being impartial and objective, is fair to all interests.

It is also clear that RTE management is very well aware of the major changes taking place within Irish society.

I quote:

RTÉ today sits within a society, economy and media environment that is changing; and changing rapidly. Recent years have shaken public confidence in institutions and traditional authority.

Despite this awareness, or perhaps because of it, RTE management seems to be abandoning its objectivity and professionalism in favour of taking the side of State/Government.

The apparent packing of a discussion panel in favour of one side of the debate is also in breach of RTEs duty in law to be impartial.

I quote:

RTÉ has a duty in law to be accurate, fair and impartial, and to remain independent from all state, political and commercial influences.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Sheridan

 

RTE: A mouthpiece for a corrupt regime?

 

vote_no_to_rte_bias_and_groupthink_by_christiantruthteller-d8qk1f5

By Anthony Sheridan

There is no evidence or even a claim that the murdered MP Jo Cox was the subject of abuse on social media. The only mention I am aware of is that she received ‘malicious communication of a sexual nature’ at her parliamentary office. This could have been by phone, letter, email, in person or social media.

But this lack of evidence has not stopped many Irish politicians and mainstream media jumping on the hypocrisy wagon to cynically exploit Ms. Cox’s brutal murder.

One particularly disgraceful example of this exploitation of a murder to promote an obvious agenda occurred on RTEs The Week in Politics.

The panel, as usual, was heavily weighed in favour of the government/establishment.

Representing the establishment view was Dara Murphy Fine Gael and Thomas Byrne Fianna Fail. Journalist Elaine Byrne and the presenter of the show, Aine Lawlor, represented mainstream media.

Against this stacked panel was Mick Barry of AAA/PBP, representing left wing politics and the anti-establishment view.

The bizarre line of questions put to Mr. Barry clearly exposed the biased agenda of RTE and is worth analysing to demonstrate that truth.

Aine Lawlor: Staying with the Irish response to immigration, we have a short clip of the controversial UKIP poster that attracted a lot of attention shortly before Jo Cox was murdered.

Viewers were shown a news clip of a British right wing politician promoting a right wing poster in favour of Brexit shortly before a right wing extremist murdered Jo Cox then, bizarrely; Lawlor put the following question to left wing politician Mick Barry.

Why is the politics of fear travelling particularly, as it seems, with a lot of working class voters, Labour voters, left wing voters in Britain?

Mr. Barry, while in the process of condemning extreme right wing politics in Britain and America, was interrupted by Lawlor.

But you know here in the past turbulent, painful years there were many people on the far Left who did target politicians personally. Do you regret that, I know there’s a lot of anger out there but has there been too much personalised anti politicians campaigning?

So Lawlor moved from discussing extreme right wing politics in the UK and the right wing murder of Jo Cox to asking Barry to express regret for the angry reaction of Irish citizens to the wholesale destruction of their lives by mainstream politicians.

The Fianna Fail politician on the panel, whose party was principally responsible for the catastrophe, was not asked to express any regret for his party’s actions. Neither was the right wing Fine Gael politician whose party ruthlessly continued and added to the suffering of Irish citizens.

This biased strategy of showing a news clip and then demanding a condemnation or an expression of regret has become common practice within RTE current affairs and seems to target only Sinn Fein and left wing politicians.

Clearly puzzled by Lawlor’s line of questioning Barry asked her what she was referring to.

I’m referring to a number of incidents which I think everybody else on the panel would… I’m not going to single out specific incidents because I don’t want to get into the ins and outs.

I’m talking about the way politicians were harassed at their homes, I’m talking about the online abuse that they got, I’m talking about a level of protest that has been endured by politicians here and certain politicians in Britain. You’re condemning it on the far right, I’m simply asking do you regret and deplore it on the far left as well.

Lawlor’s comment ‘I think everybody else on the panel would…’ suggests she was about to declare that everybody else on the panel agrees with her comments and her line of questioning.

The Fianna Fail and Fine Gael politicians were then allowed to join the attack on the so-called far left with little interference from Lawlor and again were not asked to condemn or express regret for the catastrophic damage their respective parties have inflicted on Ireland and its people.

When they finished their hypocritical and largely inaccurate comments Lawlor once again attacked Barry and left wing politics.

You’ve heard the two politicians beside you saying there are issues with some people on the Left and the way they have been harassing politicians – do you deplore that kind of individual harassment?

Keep in mind that the issue under discussion was the activities of UK right wing politicians and the murder of MP Jo Cox by a right wing extremist.

Here are some facts:

Ireland suffered more than any other country in the world as a result of the global economic collapse in 2008. The reason Ireland suffered so much is that, over decades, our corrupt political system created an environment of zero regulation that allowed bankers, property developers, lawyers and other elites to do as they pleased.

The response of the Irish people to the catastrophe visited upon them by corrupt politicians was the most peaceful, most responsible in the world – without exception.

RTE, while always conservative, was once a relatively professional and well balanced broadcaster.

Since 2008, and particularly since a significant percentage of Irish citizens began to rebel against political corruption, the broadcaster has become little more than a mouthpiece for the corrupt political regime.

Copy to:

RTE/Aine Lawlor

Dara Murphy

Thomas Byrne

Elaine Byrne

All political parties

Political lies cause suffering and death. Enda Kenny is a political liar

CroppedImage608342-lies-better1

Political lies cause suffering and death. Enda Kenny is a political liar.

War is the most obvious and most deadly consequence of political lying. Over the centuries, countless millions have died because politicians lied when they should have told the truth.

But war is not the only cause of death as a result of political lies. There was a massive increase in the suicide rate following the economic collapse in 2008 (Recession directly to blame for up to 566 suicides).

These desperate people died, at least in part, because our politicians lied to them.

In Ireland, alone among Western democracies, political lying has become a fully accepted part of political discourse. It is also common right throughout the civil and public service.

Political lying has become part of Irish political culture principally because lying politicians are rarely challenged by the media.

Here’s Pat Rabbitte casually demonstrating this truth when asked about election promises regarding child benefit:

Sean O’Rourke:

You didn’t go into all that detail before the general election, you kept it really simple – Protect child benefit, vote Labour?

Rabbitte:

Well, I mean, isn’t that what you tend to do during an election?

The criminal politician Haughey lied right through his decades long career, including lying under oath at various tribunals and investigations. Despite the enormous damage done to Ireland and its people by this criminal’s lying he was, largely, fawned upon by large segments of the media and members of the establishment.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern almost certainly lied under oath at the Mahon Tribunal. My assertion that lying is the accepted norm in Irish political and administrative goverance is confirmed by the disgraceful fact that no action has been (or ever will be) taken against Ahern by any state authority.

Political lying is the principal cause of the catastrophic economic collapse of 2008 that resulted in thousands of suicides, massive emigration and the horrific destruction of the wealth, hopes and ambitions of hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens.

And yet, a disturbingly large section of the media and most of the establishment appear to be more than happy to live in comfortable denial amidst the wreckage and suffering caused by political lying.

The following is just a sample of various journalists, commentators and politicians who, for whatever reason, cannot or will not make the obvious link between political lying and the infliction of great hardship.

Caroline O’Doherty: Irish Examiner:

Kenny’s lie was:

A fisherman’s tale.

O’Doherty then went to use most of her article to advise Fine Gael on how best to present their (lying) leader to best advantage in the upcoming election campaign.

Caroline O’Doherty is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Editorial: Irish Examiner:

Kenny was, while dishonest, just a Walter Mitty character using:

Folksy parables.

The editor warned that Kenny must act quickly if he wants to be re-elected and, as always, took the opportuntiy to take a swipe at Gerry Adams/Sinn Fein.

The editor of the Irish Examiner is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Eilis O’Hanlon: Sunday Independent:

Kenny ruined it by going a ‘a little bit too far’ in attempting to portray himself as the man who saved the country from anarchy and, predictably, O’Hanlon blamed the media:

So why the outcry last week? The media, having got bored with the feel-good narrative which the Government has been pushing since the Budget, saw a chance to put the Taoiseach on the back foot.

Eilis O’Hanlon is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Michael Lehane: Morning Ireland (RTE):

On being asked did the whole issue matter:

It doesn’t matter but there is a political vacuum there because the Dail isn’t sitting so the focus didn’t come off it (but) it has gone the distance now.

Michael Lehane is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Pat Rabbitte: Labour TD: (Speaking on RTE):

The Taoiseach makes the point, perhaps in a folksy, homespun way.

Pat Rabbitte is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Noel Whelan: Irish Times:

Mr. Whelan believes that Kenny is a storyteller whose utterance was no accident.

It was part of a cleverly designed but clumsily implemented strategy from Fine Gael to remind voters of how serious the crisis was so as to talk up its part in turning it around.

Noel Whelan is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Gerry Adams: Sinn Fein president:

Mr. Adams accused Kenny of being a spoof who tells tall tales. Mr. Adams said he was not accusing the Taoiseach of lying but of just getting carried away with himself.

Gerry Adams is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Fergus Finlay: Chief Executive of Barnardos and former Labour Party advisor: (Late Debate RTE):

Why are we getting our knickers in a knot about it? Mother of God, this kind of thing happens all the time. It’s a bit of craic, that’s all it is, a bit of political craic and I don’t see how it affects anything other than the gaiety of the nation for a week.

I think it shows that we don’t have a sense of humour. You know, let’s get a grip for heaven’s sake, it’s about nothing.

Fergus Finlay is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Gary Murphy: Professor of Political Science, DCU (Late Debate RTE).

The Taoiseach does have a habit of self-aggrandisement or over-egging situations. He’s guilty of guilding the lily so to speak.

Professor Murphy is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Catherine Halloran: Political Correspondent Irish Daily Star: (Ryan Tubridy Show, RTE):

I think it’s his folksy way of trying to relate to people.

It’s better than telling lies. At least we know he has his finger on the pulse he met the man or woman who told him this and I don’t doubt for a second that he has met those people, he’s a politician… The fact that Enda does take the time out to stop and talk to people and listen to their experiences means he’s in a position to make judgement on them.

Catherine Halloran is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Shaun Connolly: Irish Examiner:

Mr. Connolly believes Kenny was simply caught out telling an over-excited porkie. He was guilty of a slightly embarrassing, but ultimately harmless, comment.

Shaun Connolly is not aware or doesn’t care that political lies cause suffering and death.

Copy to:
Enda Kenny
All individuals quoted
All political parties
Government

RTE: A government propaganda puppet

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.

Sean O’Rourke’s continuing support for the Government

I wrote the other day about the disgraceful bias shown by RTE presenter Sean O’Rourke during a discussion between Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy and Suzanne Lynch, Irish Times European Correspondent in Athens.

It is clear to even the most uninformed observer that O’Rourke supports the Government/establishment side in the ongoing Water Tax war.

O’Rourke doesn’t seem the least bothered about his unprofessional behaviour and, it also seems, RTE management have no problem with his bullyboy tactics when interviewing those who are opposed to his obvious pro-establishment opinions.

He puts great effort into steering discussion in favour of his own political opinion and, when necessary, he uses the tactic of interrupting those opposed to his views in support of those who are of the same mind as his.

His bullyboy tactics against Paul Murphy were again used in a ‘discussion’ between Labour Senator Mary Moran and Cllr. Michael O’Brien of the Anti-Austerity Alliance.

O’Rourke made it very difficult for Cllr. O’Brien to discuss the reason for the protest. Neither was Senator Moran interested in discussing the substantial issue, she simply kept expressing outrage at what she perceived was an attack on democracy and agreeing with Sean O’Rourke as he attacked the protester’s ‘thuggery’.

Here’s the relevant section of the discussion which centred on the throwing of a cone at a Guard.

Cllr. O’Brien: I don’t stand over the throwing of objects whatsoever but, there’s another side to this…

…interrupted by Sean O’Rourke.

O’Rourke: You don’t stand over it. Would you care to put it a little bit more strongly, maybe think about condemning it?

This is bullying. In O’Rourke’s poliltical opinion Cllr O’Brien was not strong enough in his reaction to the alleged incident.

Cllr. O’Brien: I’m opposed to the throwing of objects. The point I was going to make Sean was the Guards drew batons on people and I saw people from the community I represent with injuries inflicted upon them by the Guards.

Later when O’Brien was getting the better of Senator Moran, O’Rourke again interrupted, changing the direction of the discussion.

O’Rourke: What do you say to Alan Shatter the former Justice Minister, a representative of the people of Dublin South saying that he had abusive insults hurled at him, his car was thumped and kicked by some protesters, it was a clear example of thuggery.

Senator Moran: It was, absolutely.

O’Rourke is clealy showing bias here. He begins with a quesiton and ends by expressing his own strong political opinion. Senator Moran was clearly delighted with O’Rourke’s strong support.

O’Rourke: Do you condemn thuggery or do you accept that it was thuggery?

Cllr. O’Brien attempts to make his point but again O’Rourke interrupts.

O’Rourke: Are you saying you do not condemn the violent actions of some people who showed up last evening?

Cllr. O’Brien: Yes, I am opposed to the throwing of objects, spitting…

…interrupted again by O’Rourke.

O’Rourke: Do you condemn them?

Cllr. O’Brien: Yeah, I’m opposed to that.

O’Rourke: There’s a difference between being opposed to something and condemning it?

Cllr. O’Brien: Well, I do condemn the throwing of objects and conduct of that fashion.

As Cllr. O’Brien tries again to discuss the reason for the protest he is, yet again, interrupted by O’Rourke.

O’Rourke: Were you not in a position last night to appeal to people to restrain themselves, to cooperate with the Gardai?

Cllr. O’Brien explained that protesters were asked by organisers not to allow themselves be provoked by Gardai because a violent response would be used by media to discredit water protesters.

And of course, that’s exactly what Sean O’Rourke and RTE were doing. It’s odd that RTE management don’t seem to be aware of the massive damage such bias is doing to the station’s credibility.

Copy to:
Sean O’Rourke/RTE

Sean O’Rourke: No bias allowed – except RTEs

Once again we witness a blatant and unprofessional example of bias by RTEs Sean O’Rourke.

Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy was debating the Greek crisis with Suzanne Lynch, Irish Times European Correspondent in Athens.

Murphy was getting the better of Lynch which did not sit well with O’Rourke so he blatantly intervened not just to defend Lynch but to speak on her behalf.

Here’s the relevant section of the debate with my comments.

Paul Murphy: I think Suzanne Lynch’s articles have been consistently biased and taking the side of the so-called creditors. In a recent article she referred to Tspirias as a self-styled Che Guevara figure. That’s not unbiased journalism, it’s taking the line of the establishment and repeating the propaganda here…

…Interrupted by Sean O’Rourke.

O’Rourke: Hold on, before you go any further I want Suzanne Lynch to come back on that if she wishes – Suzanne?

Suzanne Lynch: I think I’ll just leave that actually, Sean.

Murphy continues but is immediately interrupted by Lynch as she thinks of a defence.

Lynch: That was an analysis piece that I wrote and in the Irish Times there’s a strong division between news and analysis and I’m not going to get into a defence of my work with Paul Murphy on radio.

This is a weak and ridiculous defence. Bias can, and frequently does, appear in both news and analysis.

Discussion continues with Paul Murphy tearing strips from both Lynch’s point of view and Juncker’s speech until O’Rourke again interrupts him.

O’Rourke: Come back to the point, you’ve dealt with that now and Juncker’s speech at some length. What about the points Suzanne Lynch made and, by the way, I don’t think it’s right for you to accuse somebody of bias. I think Suzanne Lynch is a professional, honest journalist reporting things as she sees them and by the way to describe your man as a self-styled Che Guevara is a complement.

Clearly, O’Rourke felt that Lynch was not performing well so, abandoning all semblance of professional impartiality, he intervenes, not only to castigate Murphy for accusing Lynch of being biased, but to deliver his personal, glowing assessment of Lynch’s honesty and professionalism.

If Lynch wasn’t in tatters after Murphy’s deconstruction of her arguments then surely she was in the realm of humiliation as she listened to O’Rourke’s well intentioned but utterly patronising and unasked for assistance in arguing her case.

Here’s the truth of the matter.

O’Rourke did not intervene in support of Lynch because he thought it was unfair of Murphy to accuse her of being biased. Accusing somebody of being biased is a common and accepted norm, particularly during political debate.

O’Rourke intervened because he clearly holds the same political views as Lynch and, as Murphy dismantled her arguments brick by brick, he felt compelled to intervene and help her out.

Everybody is biased to one degree or another but professional broadcasters are trained to conduct a debate without listeners ever getting a hint of where they stand on the issue under discussion. This training has just one aim – to maintain the credibility of the broadcasting station.

It is clear from this and previous incidents (here and here) that O’Rourke has permission not only to take sides but to blatantly intervene in support of those who are at one with his views and, presumably, those of RTE management.

Copy to:
Sean O’Rourke/RTE