Loathing The Fear On The Campaign Trail

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Media surround Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams this morning outside the GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin

By presenting voters with a stark choice between “stability” and “chaos” elements of the establishment media went too far in General Election 2016.

Ciaran Tierney writes:

Has there ever been a General Election campaign in Ireland before in which the role of some elements of the mainstream media seemed so clear? Not to report the truth, or to compare policies, but to cheer on the establishment parties and spread an irrational fear of change.

For months now, we’ve been told that this election is giving us a choice between “stability” (voting for the parties who either bankrupt the country or imposed austerity on thousands of us) and “chaos” (God forbid if those upstarts from Sinn Féin or the small left wing parties came within a million miles of power).

Sometimes the mask slips, and you wonder whether Irish democracy is any better than the kind of electioneering you would find in modern day Russia or even North Korea.

Such as when the nation’s biggest selling newspaper gives over its main story to attacking Sinn Féin policies for three days in a row. That’s not balanced election coverage, that’s naked propaganda.

There is nothing wrong with challenging a party which has a sinister past, especially if they are a rising force on the brink of gaining power for the first time in the Republic.

But where is the investigative journalism into the policies of the Fianna Fail party which caused the economic crash less than a decade ago? Are they really ready to return to power?

And where is the acknowledgement that, by going into power with the DUP and embracing the peace process, Sinn Fein have actually come a long way in the space of a few years?

Where is the analysis of why the Labour Party abandoned their core voters (and all their principles) or why Fine Gael think it’s perfectly acceptable to punish so many for the sins of so few?

The same newspaper sent a representative, a crime reporter, onto the nation’s most popular chat show at the weekend.

He managed to insult hundreds of thousands of people on Friday night by suggesting that anyone who supports Sinn Fein’s position on the Special Criminal Court is a drug-dealer, a killer, or a thug.

People have a right to be concerned at the prospect of former terrorists going into Government, but blatant scare-mongering is another thing.

…It was hard not to see his Late Late Show appearance as a hatchet-job on Sinn Fein just a week before the election.

On the day after his TV appearance, thousands of people marched through the streets of the capital to protest against austerity. The Right 2 Change march merited just one paragraph, and not a single photo, in one of the nation’s biggest selling Sunday papers the following day.

Six days before the election, thousands of people insisted that austerity was still a big issue. They said that the march was about so much more than Irish Water. But a Rupert Murdoch-owned ‘paper decided their march did not merit any coverage, even though so many of them took over the city centre.

Across the city, another editor was putting together a piece which suggested ten different reasons not to vote for Sinn Féin. Which was fair enough, but you’d be waiting a long time for ten different reasons not to vote for the party which bankrupted the country in the first place.

Sadly, the people who cover politics in Ireland largely move in the same circles as the political masters they write about. They broadly share the same views, seeing nothing wrong with the bank bailout or Ireland’s failure to stand by our Greek cousins when they sought debt relief last year.

To support Syriza in their hour of need would have involved challenging the status quo and an admission that the Irish were wrong. And nobody in the Irish Government wanted that.

So we get “fluffy” pieces from the campaign trail, in which reporters get access to our leaders as long as they play by their rules.

…In this election, we should be grateful for social media. The landscape has been transformed.

When people see videos of 100,000 people marching through Dublin city centre on Facebook, getting next to no coverage on national television, they begin to ask about pro-Government “spin”.

More and more, people are beginning to ask questions about the information they are being fed.

We see Irish Water protesters being labelled as the “sinister fringe” on the TV news, but the only footage we see of Gardai beating up protesters is away from the mainstream media.

On Facebook or Twitter, you can see photos of thousands upon thousands marching through the streets of the capital to protest against austerity, even if those images rarely end up in the national newspapers or on TV.

You can see the establishment politicians make fools of themselves, by trying to defend the indefensible in unguarded moments on Twitter.

You can find out about the parties’ policies by accessing their websites and avoiding the scare-mongering among some elements of the media.

By all means, question the policies of left wing groups such as PBP-AAA and Sinn Fein. A hung Dail, with so many Independents, is a scary thing. Perhaps they would lead Ireland to ruin. Fianna Fail certainly should know – they led Ireland to ruin only five short years ago.

People don’t like to think they are being brainwashed or led a merry dance by those who have hidden agendas or a vested interest in holding onto power.

There is some vile stuff out there on social media, but it’s only there that you get a real taste of the anger running through the housing estates and parts of rural Ireland over the past five years. That anger rarely gets a look-in on national TV or our newspapers.

We have so many sources of information in 2016 that people can see right through the “spin”, in a way which would have been unthinkable before the advent of Facebook and Twitter.

That can only be a good thing, when we’re sometimes faced with the kind of propaganda which would not seem out of place in North Korea or Cuba.

The media, the election, and the politics of fear (Ciaran Tierney)

131 thoughts on “Loathing The Fear On The Campaign Trail

  1. newsjustin

    “Sometimes the mask slips, and you wonder whether Irish democracy is any better than the kind of electioneering you would find in modern day Russia or even North Korea.”

    “That can only be a good thing, when we’re sometimes faced with the kind of propaganda which would not seem out of place in North Korea or Cuba.”

    No Ciaran. Just no.

    1. Martin Heavy-Guy

      Speaking of masks slipping, do you think Gerry’s beard will fall off if he gets elected?

      I think the spin and propaganda machine of a purported “left wing” party that gets into power by debasing the current government and then proceeds to seize control of a nation’s infrastructure sounds much more akin to something Sinn Féin would do if they got half a chance.

  2. Owen C

    “Sometimes the mask slips, and you wonder whether Irish democracy is any better than the kind of electioneering you would find in modern day Russia or even North Korea.

    …That can only be a good thing, when we’re sometimes faced with the kind of propaganda which would not seem out of place in North Korea or Cuba.”

    Ah yeah, that’s definitely the case. No hyperbole here at all.

    1. rotide

      No spin here at all. No siree bob.

      It’s always amusing that people are lining up to complain about media bias on possibly the most biased blog going

      1. Harry Molloy

        +1

        It’s almost as if it’s implied strategy of drowning out all criticism and claiming victimhood, regardless of the fact that the same ‘biased’ media sources routinely criticise every other party out there

    1. Neilo

      It’s not just policies per se that are being attacked in the inkies, it’s more the historical baggage of that political party which pollutes the body politic today.

      1. LW

        I’m fascinated that SF draw so much condemnation, but FF never get any flak for their role in the provos

        1. Truth in the News

          Actually certain finacial supporters of FF, financed the initial
          start of the provisional section that emerged from the split
          in 1969, as to the involvement of certain leading members
          of Fianna Fail history now judges, that they too had a hand
          and deliberately hid their involvement even denied it, and
          used it as premptative attempt to get rid of Haughey and Blaney

        1. Harry Molloy

          That works on a few levels :)

          – last chance, as in they’ll refuse to relinquish power once in and will stamp out democracy
          – last chance as in they’ll destroy themselves with their ineptitude
          – last chance as in they’ll have us all killed

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Aye. They’ll be getting a 2 or a 3 from me now. Never gave them a number before. The YFGers have gone overboard with their coordinated attacks. Plus FG are scum.

          1. Nice Jung Man

            You’re voting for paedo enablers because other nasty boys don’t like them and call them names? The childish playground attempt at retort is appropriate.

          2. Vote Rep #1

            FG are scum but murderers, child abusing hiders, actual proper gangsters, etc are not. Right. Amazing logic around these days.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            Can they do a worse job than the scumbags in FG and FF? I don’t think so. We’ve been led by delusional gombeens for long enough. They destroyed us. SF really can’t do any worse.

          4. Vote Rep #1

            There are more options to FG/FF/Labour then actual scumbags thanks. I prefer my politicians not to be gangsters who take their orders from lads with guns thanks.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            Then don’t vote for them. I’m not sure if many of their candidates have any dealings with the IRA these days anyway. People seem to forget that Mary Lou defected from FF for instance. I want the best people for the job. That is definitely not FG/FF/Lab. It mightn’t be SF either but whether or not Gerry Adams was in the IRA has nothing to do with that.

          6. LW

            Why aren’t FG being called paedo enablers on foot of the recent revelations surrounding Noonan’s time in health?

          7. Cup of tea anyone?

            Dont forget the way they helped out the church in their time on f need, Capping their legal casts and doing everything to cover the laundries issue.

          8. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Why aren’t FG being called paedo enablers on foot of the recent revelations surrounding Noonan’s time in health?”

            Cause the people who are shouting that at SF don’t actually care about the victims, they care about stiffing SF.

          9. Nigel

            Wouldn’t vote SF in a fit, but who the sweet bippity do you think was in power in all the years of clerical abuse and, it is emerging, abuse in other places as well, complete with full establishment co-operation and/or blindness and/or enabling? SF are in the ha’penny place, there. Don’t pretend this makes them worse than the others, it just makes them the same.

          10. newsjustin

            “…….but whether or not Gerry Adams was in the IRA has nothing to do with that.”

            It has a little bit to do with it alright Moyest. Unless you believe that being a supporter of (most would say a participant in) political violence and terrorism is just a harmless personality trait for a politician.

          11. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Unless you believe that being a supporter of (most would say a participant in) political violence and terrorism is just a harmless personality trait for a politician.”

            You mean the chap who backed the peace process? That fella? What do you think is going to happen? We’re going to start a war with the Brits? FG TDs will start disappearing? What do you actually think will happen?

          12. ReproBertie

            Because Noonan’s actions (or inactions as the case may be) were not part of a coordinated party policy of moving paedos around?

            Have SF clarified whether tax dodging is OK for all cattle smugglers or just those that are “good Republicans”?

          13. LW

            Were they not Repro? He was Minister for health, and latest news seems to show Austin Currie was also involved. I don’t think any of the parties have a particularly clean record on tax affairs

          14. newsjustin

            Moyest, once you’ve killed people, anything is possible. What wouldn’t Sinn Fein do to force a United Ireland and pay back their tax-dodging, bank-robbing, women and children killing, punishment beating giving, drug dealing supporters?

          15. ReproBertie

            I hadn’t heard about Currie LW but, as Nigel said, FF and FG were bouncing in and out of power all through the church abuses where the very best that can be said about the instruments of the state is that they turned a blind eye. I guess I’m more annoyed by the SF thing because it was directly connected with the party but on reflection there’s a whole list of health ministers that have questions to answer on what was done by the HSE on their watch.

          16. newsjustin

            They’ll aim to remove the Special Criminal Court. In order to ensure that any trial involving their fundraising partners involve a few dozen people volunteering for witness protection.

          17. MoyestWithExcitement

            “They’ll aim to remove the Special Criminal Court.”

            You mean the thing they’ve publicly said they’ll do? Get rid of a thing that Amnesty International, the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties have criticised? That thing that almost no other western nation has? Ok, they’ll remove that and their mates will have to face actual juries. Anything else?

          18. newsjustin

            They’ll undermine the Gardai and judiciary in order to assist their more criminally orientated supporters.

            They’ll continue to be answerable to the IRA Army Council, thus undermining our Government.

          19. newsjustin

            But sure give them an ould No. 2 anyway Moyest. Sure what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like they’ve killed peo…….oh.

          20. LW

            I also find it fascinating that they get no credit for the peace process, while any politician in the south who stepped foot in Dept of Foreign Affairs can point to it as a success of theirs.

          21. LW

            @Harry you wouldn’t consider bringing a paramilitary organisation to peace to be an extraordinary achievement?

          1. Neilo

            I don’t really pick up what you’re putting down there, jambon, but it’s of a piece with your suggestion that someone who doesn’t agree with strapping on the kneepads and suppressing the gag reflex for Gerry Adams must be dim.

        1. jambon

          Of course you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, you can’t even smell what you’re walking in.

  3. Friscondo

    Lets face it, half of the so called Republican Movement were in the employ of MI5 and RUC Special Branch. Who knows how many are still beholden to the British government. Do we want that in our own government?

    1. Kolmo

      it seems that there are elements pulling the strings in some media quarters in the ’employ’ of offshore entities, governmental and/or otherwise, warping our so-called democracy from afar

    2. some old queen

      Why do you assume that some of the existing politicians are not already in such employment? That would explain a few decisions made.

  4. Jake38

    “..and spread an irrational fear of change”.

    Why is it irrational?

    “Sometimes the mask slips, and you wonder whether Irish democracy is any better than the kind of electioneering you would find in modern day Russia or even North Korea.” North Korea? No wonder Ruth Coppinger likes it so much.

    “People have a right to be concerned at the prospect of former terrorists going into Government, but blatant scare-mongering is another thing.” Really? Murder, money laundering, bodies in bogs, bank robbery,….ahh, that’s just scaremongering.

    “seeing nothing wrong with the bank bailout or Ireland’s failure to stand by our Greek cousins….” They might be your cousins. As far as I’m concerned Syriza are related only to the AAA/PBP/Peoples Front of Judea.

  5. Eoin

    That’s a great article. It’s very encouraging to see this type of opinion piece at this time.It shows that people are starting to see through the propaganda and spin. Thankfully. The establishment have abused and over used their public manipulation tools. Tools which only work as long as people aren’t aware of them being used. RTE and the news media here have displayed STUNNING bias. You’d have to be blind to not see it. It’s no different than in previous elections but this time around they gotta fight the internet. Which means they gotta double down on the bull and propaganda. But propaganda has to be subtle or else it won’t work. It was a big mistake by RTE not to cover the 80k strong march last week. Literally ignoring REALITY. Coming home elated afterwards and watching the lies on the news, is not only heartbreaking but it’s infuriating. I have words like TREASON going through my head. I almost hate RTE and the spineless news media here as much as the banksters and EU elites.

    1. newsjustin

      It’s not a great article. It shows as much bias as the author is bemoaning in the media. It compares Ireland to North Korea twice ffs.

    2. Anomanomanom

      Rte is basically a huge quango that just sucks the tax payer dry. Awful tv shows(rare hits I know) and bias news that so bias it should be illegal from a state broadcaster.

  6. Clampers Outside!

    “…It was hard not to see his Late Late Show appearance as a hatchet-job on Sinn Fein just a week before the election.
    On the day after his TV appearance, thousands of people marched through the streets of the capital to protest against austerity.”

    Look here, citing Gerry’s appearance on the Late Late and then jumping straight into the Right2Change march as if the two were entwined is an absolute spin of lies and bullpoo and an attempt to paint Gerry and co as having some base in the movement. They don’t. The base came from the originators of the movement, not the SF hangers on.

    SF are only involved in the anti-water protests because they lost a seat to Paul Murphy. Fact.

    Both Mary Lou and Gerry were going to pay their water charges up until they lost that seat. Both said they’d pay, look it up… and later changed their minds. Hell, Gerry is even giving the Queen of England water charges up North. Fact.

    They lost a seat to Paul Murphy and everything changed…… “oh, this is terrible, someone think of the peeple, what’s the most popular anti-government thing of the day? Irish Water? Well, we lost a seat on the water charges… right, lets just do an about turn and get those votes back…..”
    That’s the SF way, nothing else. All the faux passion for the people they put into it is a smoke screen to get votes.

    So, while I agree with you, yes, even I will agree, the Indo in particular wrote some ridiculous headlines. But don’t tell me I’m being fed bullcrap by the media and then turn around and try feed me your own brand of bull crap FFS!

    Call out wrong doing, stop the lies and spin, but don’t make out SF are doing anti-water for the good of the people. They band wagoned it, nothing more. And they’ll do a 180 on everything in their manifesto, everything bar the one thing they will never have the power to change because that power lies with the people of the North.

    1. LW

      Isn’t representing the will of the people meant to be the point of holding office? Taking issue with SF seeing the way the wind was blowing and adopting a position accordingly seems a bit ridiculous. FF also “band-wagoned” it, to a greater extent, as I think they’d already committed to water charges before the purge

        1. LW

          So what are you saying? That the politicians should ignore the people? If they’re going with the wind, at least they chose the gale force one of the anti-irish water sentiment.

    2. LW

      Also Clampers, I’m almost certain he’s talking about Reynold’s appearance on the late late, given that Gerry wasn’t on it

    3. Fergus the magic postman

      Clampers, I think it may be the fault as to how this was written, but I’m not sure the writer has suggested that Sinn Féin & the Right 2 Change march are entwined in any way other than how they are treated by the media in question.
      I’ve read the article a few times and am not seeing the spin you suggest.

    1. Fergus the magic postman

      Yes, but the point is, we are being informed constantly & consistently on the reasons not to vote for SF, while the reasons you alluded to for not voting for FF/ FG don’t get quite the exposure from the same outlets.

  7. Eoin

    We have a state broadcaster banging out blatant propaganda. We have no right to look down on nations like North Korea. If you can’t see that then you’re an establishment blogger. Part of the problem. Wake up and grow a conscience.

    1. Jake38

      “We have no right to look down on nations like North Korea……….” I’ll leave the reader to ponder that one!

    2. Rob_G

      The mere fact that you are can publish your adolescent musings without being shipped off to a reeducation camp shows that we are a much, much better off than North Korea.

    3. Kieran NYC

      Go to the Broadcasting Authority with your evidence of blatant propaganda so. Hell, I’m sure TV3 would love to do an expose about it.

      Even Broadsheet! Send in your reams of evidence!

      Or is it just that sometimes people on there have opinions you disagree with? Silencing them would be VERY North Korean of you.

  8. Pete

    Boring cliched stuff a la private eyes stock trot Dave Spart. No way were there 100,000 on the march .And the marchmight have got more coverage if it wasnt one of a dozen through city center over the year. Zzzzzzzz

    1. LW

      I think a large march, the latest in a long campaign, the weekend before the general election certainly qualifies as news during a time when soft pieces of Enda on the campaign trail are managing to get coverage on the 6-1, for example

    1. rotide

      You actually need to be told this?

      The same guidelines can be applied to all forms of media.

      Including websites.

      1. Nigel

        Is this a new thing where we sneers at useful information because we think we already know it therefore it must be so self-evident that stating it out loud is tantamount to insult?

        Or is it a very old thing? That everybody already knows? Except me?

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          No, it’s more of a ‘Crap, he’s making valid points that contradict my world view. Better belittle him somehow so I don’t have to think about what he’s saying’ kind of thing. And it’s very old.

        2. rotide

          Well, considering the amount of stick the indo gets round these parts for being DOBs personal newsletter, I would have thought these ‘guideines’ wouldn’t exactly be news to the deep thinkers here

          1. Nigel

            The stick the Indo gets round here, like so many other things, tends to be reflexive. This calls for a bit more of the analytics, which is always a good thing.

    2. DCU

      Congratulation’s!

      Please send stamped addressed envelope and we will get your degree out to you.

      Signed

      The lads

  9. Pablo Pistachio

    For all their huffing and puffing over the past few weeks, YFG could be responsible for FG getting fewer and Sinn Fein more seats than last time.
    This time next week, Gerry could be either our Tanaiste, or more likely, the leader of the opposition.
    Either way, the largest number of left wing TDs will be elected to the Dail in the history of the state.
    Ireland is finally waking up.

    1. Cup of tea anyone?

      Now we just have to wait and see what we actually wake up to. Could be good or bad but at least it will be different.

  10. Eoin

    Well we lampoon and criticise and fear places like North Korea for engaging in things like, state propaganda. Yet we ignore our own more sophisticated version of the same. Well I think that’s changing. It’s becoming obvious now. It’s like that old line from The Usual Suspects. The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Yup. Ireland’s finally waking up. And good luck putting that particular genie back in the bottle! Ha!

    1. ReproBertie

      “Ireland’s finally waking up.”

      Have you heard of James Connolly or Jim Larkin or the 1913 lockout or the Irish Citizen Army? The left has been awake for a long time in Ireland. The only difference this time is they’ve managed to more or less unite and are capitalising on the current situation where Tweedledum is just as detested as Tweedledee.

  11. Fergus the magic postman

    Whatever you think of SF, or how much you love FF/ FG, or just how much you fear a left leaning government, the point of the piece as I see was to point out just how blatant the agenda is in RTE, the Indo, & other outlets.

    To respond to this by saying SF deserve all they get is to miss the point entirely, & enables the censorship/ partiality that should not exist in Ireland in 2016 especially by state funded media.
    Of course I understand that in this case the agendas/ censoring & partiality may suit some of you, but that doesn’t excuse it, & you shouldn’t either.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “To respond to this by saying SF deserve all they get is to miss the point entirely”

      I’d say it’s an example of the point.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          I was talking about how people respond to a piece on how the media deflect criticism of the government onto SF by criticising SF.

  12. Truth in the News

    This is an incisive analysis of of the media trying to hold back the will of the
    electorate, there is no point in trying to stop the electorate, their minds are
    made up with ages, suppressing coverage of a huge protest in the capital city
    a couple of days before an election, and above all by an organisation that calls
    itself a public service broadcaster …RTE, paid for by a licience fee, its collection
    enforced by statute, the people who marched last saturday will soon be
    at their door, just like what the populace did all through Eastern Europe in 1990
    As to certain sections the Dublin Print Media…all they have to look at is their
    declining circulation, and the amount of unsold return’s and if the people cotton
    on to them and they have…… they are gone.

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