I Read The Views Today


From top: New Year tweet from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Tony Groves

There’s a conflict playing out across the world, the war on truth. The battle between the truth and the truth we are most comfortable with has maybe never been so inflamed. It is exacerbated by infighting, finger pointing and pointless regrets on (dare I say it) both sides.

That our newspapers have become viewspapers is only a small part of the problem. It was Elaine Byrne who pointed out that there were “14 men and 1 woman in the Irish Times opinion pages”.

A closer examination found there were five pro-government pieces and one mildly critical one. (Slight digression; there was also one Sinn Fein “they haven’t gone away” piece. It really is time that that headline went away).

The attacks on traditional media haven’t helped. Mainstream Media, in the main, does a good job reporting the news. The fact that both Left and Right decry RTÉ as biased is not a bad thing.

But it is in the op-eds and commentator class that the biases are most on display. The viewspapers are nothing more than a pressure valve. Words of comfort or rage depending on your socioeconomic standing.

The often discussed marketplace for ideas is a closed shop of simplistic and often factually inaccurate noise. Words that hiss and bubble, but seldom make real trouble.

Those who want to do some real reporting, like Tom Lyons did recently, find themselves subjected to injunctions signed off by none other than the Taoiseach himself.  There’s a word for a leader of a country who interferes in the freedom of the press, isn’t there?

Have a read of what Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar tweeted above. All of it is a comforting truth to anyone in the top 36% of the socioeconomic ladder.

It pays no heed to the bottom 64%; the cohort who may or may not be aware that while what the Taoiseach tweeted is true, so is the fact that we have the highest gross income inequality in the EU, the highest number of people (including 3,333 children) homeless in the history of the state, the highest hospital waiting lists in the history of the state and, in the context of the storms that are becoming more frequent in Ireland, a government that has made no progress in reaching our 2020 climate change goals.

Truth versus Comfortable Truth.

Ibec came out with a report this morning telling us that we’ve never had it so good. This lobby group has proclaimed that the boom is about to get boomier and we are supposed to be ecstatic.

Of course, the normal “don’t ask for a pay rise or you’ll kill competitiveness” caveat was attached. The economy, they gleefully report, will come in at 5.9% growth. The real earnings (note not average wage), the less gleefully report, are up 2.2%.

Comfortable Truth: the economy is doing well. Truth: this isn’t translating equally well into people’s lives. In fact, the gap between economic growth and wage growth has widened since 2015.

In 2018 I said (egotistically?) that I’d help join the dots. Sadly, and ironically, my desire to do so means I must ape the behaviour of those Viewspapers that I complained about at the outset. I must put forward the Uncomfortable Truth.

The uncomfortable truth is that, in this viewspaper era, there are no facts left anymore, only interpretations. But please, don’t take my word for it, or anyone else’s for that matter.

Tony Groves is the co-host of the Echo Chamber Podcast and blogs at EchoChamberPod. You can Subscribe to the Echo Chamber Podcast by clicking here for iTunes or here For SoundCloud.

22 thoughts on “I Read The Views Today

  1. b

    I guess it all depends on which truths you are comfortable with.

    It may be true we have to highest *gross* income equality in the EU, But it is also true we have the most progressive tax system in the EU.

    Can someone explain how LV signed off on the Tom Lyons injunctions?

    1. Rob_G

      The idea of ‘gross vs net’ has been pointed out to Tony several times, but he tends to ignore it as it does not tie-in to his agenda.

  2. Mike Oxlong

    Maybe the “haven’t gone away articles” will become a thing of the past when their absentee Westminster MP’s stop mocking incidents like the Kingsmill massacre?

    1. Killian G

      Did you watch that (very short) video Mike Oxlong? Quite a stretch to say anyone was mocking anything. It was idiot humour that’s all.

      1. Frilly Qeane

        And I’m no saint when it comes to self deprecat’in carry on
        but he should’ve thought the better of it
        there and then

        not from the rear view mirror

        1. Killian G

          OKay fair enough. I see where your coming from. All I would is this –

          He’s standing in a supermarket with a pan of bread balancing on his head and he asks the camera, “Does anyone know where they keep the bread in this shop?”. Something like that right? And he posts it on Twitter I think. A silly video, not very funny. Just whatever silly.

          Someone somewhere zooms in and notices that the brand of bread is Kingsmill – the most popular brand of bread in NI, its everywhere. And that person says to himself “this is a few days after a massacre of protestant workmen that happened in a place called Kingsmill 42 years ago… hes mocking them”.

          I mean seriously come on… I am fairly well up on events during the Troubles and know all about the KIngsmill shootings. But I did not wake up that day and think “todays the anniversarry”. I doubt too many did. I doubt too that anyone who did remember picked up a batch of Kingsmill bread that day and thought ‘Oh this is a poignant moment’. No they did not. Anyone who would make those connections is weird I would say.

          It was a silly video nothing else. People are just looking for an excuse,

          1. Cian

            I dunno – does he often post videos of himself in the shops with random items on his head? Or videos of himself doing/saying silly things?

            If yes, then it may be a mistake. If no, then I suspect that he knew exactly what he was doing.

  3. phil

    I think the lads in IBEC deserve a salary bump , they have been very good boys , OH IBEC , could you have a word with your members? We the citizens of this country have decided that commercial vehicles will have to pay double motor tax, to reflect the extra use on the roads.
    We are also proposing a 2% levy on profits of the banks so that citizens can be compensated quickly when your members make the next inevitable ‘honest’ ‘mistake’

  4. Ferret McGruber

    Excellent article again from Tony Groves. In all the talk of recovery, is anyone addressing the glaringly obvious corollary of rising rents? A ridiculous percentage of peoples’ wages is going towards a small percentage of the population – landlords and vulture capitalists (if they even live here which, in lots of cases, isn’t the case) leaving mere crumbs being spent in all other sectors of the economy. How can that be a suistainable recovery?

  5. Milton Friedman

    “so is the fact that we have the highest gross income inequality in the EU, the highest number of people (including 3,333 children) homeless in the history of the state,”

    You talk about truth, but that figure is not true. At least start with the basics.

    1. Marymalou

      Did you not get the memo Milton?
      “Only nice things on Tony Groves Columns”

      You cannot be finding faults or worse again, pointing them out, or you will get us lines after school.

  6. francis almond

    Scraps from the table packaged as ‘steady and sustainable improvements’ for the tax paying oiks. Lets keep the recovery going

  7. Mayor Quimby

    thoroughly dishonest article from a guy who dabbles in politics but isn’t a politician (because?)

    if we have the “highest gross income inequality ” i.e. before taxation and a much better income inequality ratio after tax isn’t it fair to conclude that Ireland’s tax system is rather progressive!

  8. ReproBertie

    “USC Reduction” trumpets Leo who seems to have forgotten that when Brian Lenihan introduced USC back in 2010 it was meant as a temporary measure to get us out of the recession. If the recession is over, as FG would have us believe, then why are we still paying this tax?

    1. Kolmo

      Micheal ‘Monty Burns’ Noonan said anyone asking that the temporary, emergency necessitated USC tax be abolished with the economic upturn was told that they were not being realistic…
      More Leprechaun economics..

  9. nellyb

    Adorable! Leo sounds like Santa. I am looking forward to Easter tweet: will Leo chose a bunny tone or an egg one? Thankfully both are mute. Good times ahead.

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