Further to Michaella McCollum’s interview on RTÉ 1 last night following her release on parole for a drug smuggling conviction in Peru.
Journalist and broadcaster Philip O’Connor writes:
The following questions need to be answered, promptly and thoroughly:
1. Who initiated the story/interview – was it Michaella, the journalist on the ground, the RTÉ news desk, a book publisher, PR agency or similar?
2. Did Michaella, her family, her foundation or any other party connected with her receive any sort of compensation (including, but not limited to, cash, flights or accommodation) in return for her co-operation?
3. Did Michaella and/or her representatives promise RTÉ or their representatives exclusivity? If so, what did they receive in return?
4. Were there any demands or requirements made by Michaella or her representatives as to where, when and under what circumstances the interview would take place?
5. Did Michaella and/or her representatives refuse to answer particular questions, or seek a list of questions prior to the interview? If so, did RTÉ accede to those requests? Did the journalist on site decide the questions to be asked or was he instructed by the news desk?
6. Is there more than one take of any of Michaella answers to the questions posed?
Further to the Iona/ John Waters Saturday Night Show apologia.
A missive from Team Panti.
Philip O’Connor writes:
Rather than being cowed by legal threats, surely the media has very valid questions to ask – starting with exactly who Iona represent, and where they get their money.
The views expressed by Iona – especially in relation to gay people – are very much at odds with the liberal secular society that Ireland has become. Indeed, Rory O’Neill suggested that the only time he experiences homophobia is online or at the hands of Iona and Waters.
When they’re done with that, they can ask why Iona is given so much room in the media. In any other country in the world, an organisation as litigious as Iona would never be asked to participate in anything. Nor would anybody else with their solicitor on speed dial.
When all that is over, perhaps someone would sit down and ask David Quinn, Waters et al to explain how their utterances – perceived by many outside themselves and their supporters as being homophobic – are acceptable.
For Iona, Quinn and Waters, it might be a hard sell. Take this quote from an interview with Waters:
“This is really a kind of satire on marriage which is being conducted by the gay lobby. It’s not that they want to get married; they want to destroy the institution of marriage because they’re envious of it…”
Now if you believe – as Waters suggests earlier in that interview – that marriage is a fundamental building block of society, then he is essentially accusing the gay lobby (many of whom are presumably gay themselves) of trying to destroy it.
How, exactly, is that not homophobic?
Is it reasonable to suggest that gay people are, in trying to secure equal treatment in the eyes of the law, trying to destroy the very fabric of society?
No, it isn’t.
So what should they have done?
Well, if he disagreed with the apology, O’Connor – a columnist with the Sunday Independent and thus not without either power or a platform to exert it – should have resigned.
In the interests of public service, RTE should have stood by its man. If they were to go to court – as evidenced above, examples of the irrational fear of homosexuality displayed by both Waters and Iona are not hard to find – they wouldn’t be without hope of winning.
But it is the Irish Times and the rest of the media that is probably deserving of the most criticism. It is one of the functions of mass media to provide a platform for debate, but yet again they have abdicated this responsibility.
It may be expensive to defend oneself against even the most frivolous of libel accusations in Ireland, but the price for not doing so is the ability to report and to comment without fear or favour.
The views expressed by Rory O’Neill are not those of RTE, but they are those of many people in the gay community.
His airing them on an RTE programme is the very point of public service, and of mass media in general – to provide a platform for debate and scrutiny, and for holding people to account.
It should be remembered that Ireland has, since its inception, struggled in terms of holding those in power to account, whether it be politicians, religious leaders or captains of industry.
All have at various points used the solicitors to muzzle reporting and debate.
But in the end, all of them were eventually caught with their Pantis down.