Anthony Sheridan: Kicked Back

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From top: Oliver Callan; Anthony Sheridan

Comedian Oliver Callan is a confused man and his confusion is getting him into all kinds of trouble.

He’s in trouble because he doesn’t understand the difference between harmless political satire and serious political comment.

If Callan was an ordinary Joe Soap comedian his confusion would not be a problem.  But Callan is not an ordinary Joe Soap, much of his income comes from powerful sources within the establishment such as RTÉ and The Irish Times.

The rule is simple:  If you work for the establishment, you don’t attack the establishment.

There’s just one exception to this rule. If you’re a comedian you can slag off the establishment if, and only if, your comments are made within the strict confines of comedy.

Clearly, Callan doesn’t understand this rule.

Recently he tweeted a very strong criticism of the leader of the establishment itself – Leo Varadkar.

‘The arrogance is astounding.  As covid19 kills scores and puts 500k on dole, Taoiseach [on full pay & exp] alleges without proof that workers are seeking layoffs to exploit benefits.  The SF leader gloats the crisis proves she’s ‘’right’.  Are we in  this together or not??? FFS’

Somebody must have had a word in his ear.  Perhaps a call from RTÉ or The Irish Times or maybe even a call from the Great Leader himself.

In any case, Callan quickly deleted the tweet with the following seriously pathetic excuse:

‘OK OK so I deleted my tweet referencing Leo’s comments on welfare applicants and Mary Lou’s opinion piece in IT.  I wasn’t fair to either of them and if we are in this together, I’ll have to simmer down too.’

This wimpish but understandably self-interested climbdown was rightfully torn to shreds on twitter.

So let’s have a look at the difference between Varadkar’s comments and McDonald’s Irish Times article.

McDonald wrote a well balanced, well informed article on the current political situation focusing particularly on the disgraceful, anti-democratic exclusion of Sinn Féin from government formation talks by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

Varadkar, on the other hand, obnoxiously and without any proof accused citizens of exploiting layoff benefits.

But, according to Callan’s flaky logic, Varadkar’s vile accusation is no worse than McDonald’s reasoned political analysis.

This is the mindset of a man running in fear of those with power to damage his interests.

All went quiet then…for a while.  Callan probably thought he was off the hook, that he was still in the establishment’s good books. But, once again, he made the massive error of mixing up satire with serious political comment.

In another tweet he described a speech delivered by the Great Leader as wooden and robotic.

Clearly, Callan was not getting the message – If you work for the establishment you cannot criticise the establishment.

To hammer home that message, the mistress of the establishment’s high moral ground was called into action, Irish Times columnist Kathy Sheridan.

Personally naming Callan, Sheridan did not mince her words:

‘Cheap, personal shots at politicians demean everyone involved.’

Callan, at last, got the message.

In an article that would embarrass even the most toadying, most servile supporter of the establishment Callan prostrated himself in a spineless effort to regain favour.

The Great Leader, who just days before was described by Callan as  an arrogant robot, suddenly morphed into a man of passion for his country, a man who was going to deal with the [evil] ‘shinners’, a man who was determined to leave a legacy of greatness on history.

Climbdowns as abject as this only happen after a serious slap on the wrist has been delivered.

And to copper-fasten his total allegiance to his masters, Callan jumped on the bandwagon that is the establishment’s hatred of social media, a hatred second only to its loathing for Sinn Fein:

Here’s Sheridan’s comment:

‘Just the kind of hot take that characterises the swamplands of social media along with idiotic #notmyTaoiseach hashtags.’

And Callan’s servile parrot:

‘Social media…a place where the cringey hashtag ‘Not My Taoiseach’ trends with regularity.’

Ah yes, I think we can safely conclude – Callan has definitely been put back in his box.

Anthony Sheridan is a freelance journalist and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Back In His Box (Anthony Sheridan, Public Enquiry)

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32 thoughts on “Anthony Sheridan: Kicked Back

  1. Qwerty123

    “anti-democratic exclusion of Sinn Féin from government formation”

    Didn’t FF and FG say they wouldn’t go into government with SF before the election? These Shinners have a strange notion of democracy.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      Didn’t FF and FG say they wouldn’t go into government together, before the election? Haven’t they both strange notions of democracy?

      1. b

        there’s nothing anti-democratic about not dealing with a party you disagree with

        FG offered FF a coalition before the election, SF won’t discuss with FG either as everyone knows it’s futile – by the authors own definition SF are being anti democratic

          1. Rosette of Sirius

            Not that I owe you a response but I’ve never voted for the following political parties – FG, FF, SF.

      2. GiggidyGoo

        Bit, b, isn’t that just it? FF disagree with FG, and vice versa. So one big magic roundabout of parties not agreeing with each other, yet somehow FF FG is democratic and FF SF isn’t?

  2. fluffybiscuits

    Oliver Callan is not a direct employee of RTE and is a contractor so that employee – employer relationship does not really exist. Callan is allowed to directly criticise and satirise the establishment in equal measure, do we not allow news reporters to do the same for the sake of national accountability. I see Callan as being like a news reporter in this regards. Poor showing here from the author of the blog..

  3. Johnnythree

    Enough about Oliver Callan is nobody going to comment on how badly written that whole piece is? Seriously, it made my nose bleed. Stop. Go read good journalism, parse your sentiments better, start with a position, build the case, deliver the cliffhanger or whatever. Just don’t write like this, it’s awful.

    1. fluffybiscuits

      Its why its a blog, would not be touched by mainstream media..thejournal.ie might accept it though

  4. Rosette of Sirius

    It’s just the same old guff, the well worn trope from SF and their followers that if you’re not one of them, you’re the ‘establishment’….

      1. Rosette of Sirius

        Hardly. Save for the other populist type outfits on the fringe. SF is as much a part of the establishment of this island.

  5. newsjustin

    Maybe Callen just changes his mind on reflection, goes off half-cocked at times, or just flip flops. This cringeworthy attempt to portray this as a huge establishment conspiracy is a bit much.

  6. fluffybiscuits

    oh stop that doesnt fit the narrative…he’ll be crack opening the sherry figuring out how didnt see that article

  7. broadbag

    So to clarify – apologising to Varadkar or FG is servile toadyism, apologising to Mary Lou McDonald is right and proper, ’cause you know, she’s the people’s leader and so forth…

  8. V

    Well
    Not only am I disappointed at the assumption that a comedian is obliged to observe rules

    I’m disappointed in the standard of moaning from the Broadsheet commentariat
    Standards have slipped

    Probably for the best I suppose

  9. Joe Small

    Might be useful to add that I’m aware of several specific people who have names and everything who quit their jobs to go on the Covid payment and that the relevant gov dept recognises this as a very real issue costing the State significant money.

    1. fluffybiscuits

      If the state recognised the 350 a week as what was needed to live off in the first place and a minimum wage job does not cut it then it speaks volumes as to the need for a living wage

    2. GiggidyGoo

      Isn’t the Covid payment time limited? 12 weeks or something like that? And at some stage Social Protection will calculate the actual entitlement a person had for benefits, and recoup any overpayment that would have occurred by getting the €350 payment? If so, then those people you mention have made quite a mistake by quitting their jobs.

  10. Tarfton Clax

    Have any of the commentators above actually read and understood the piece before flying into rage mode? It’s not brilliant, but it’s not complex. Why the difficulties in understanding it from so many (Not all)?

  11. Harry Robertson

    Firstly, if anyone thinks some (not all) didn’t take advantage of these 350 payments, they are living in dreamland. I actually had someone complain that it was inequitable. So I think they wanted Gment and Unions to sit down and discuss it for weeks before implementing equitable payments. It needed introducing and fast, so it was. I’m sure Welfare/revenue will be onto everyone who weren’t entitled or overpaid.

    Secondly, I wouldn’t take Callan seriously as a commentator, especially when he tweeted, the night Conchita Wirst won the Eurovision, that the following years comp will be hosted in Jose Fritzels flat. (He deleted that too)

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