Anthony Sheridan: Your Opinion Matters

at

From top: Sunday Times last Sunday; Anthony Sheridan

Sarah McInerney is one of RTÉs top news and current affairs broadcasters. As such she is required to exercise strict impartiality on all matters controversial but particularly in relation to political issues.

The general public should not be able to tell the personal views of broadcasters such as McInerney. So my question is, why is she allowed to express strong personal political opinions in her column in the Sunday Times?

Just last Sunday, for example, she expressed the opinion that the Taoiseach’s debilitating amiability is a liability in government. Martin has been too nice for too long; she thundered before going on to say that his softly, softly approach to challenges from his Parliamentary Party and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar was not good for Fianna Fáil.

Her final paragraph could have come from the mouth of the Taoiseach’s most worried advisor:

You have to play the political game, no matter how distasteful it may be. If Martin wants to survive two years as Taoiseach, with his party still intact, it’s time for a mini makeover. No more Mr Nice Guy.

RTÉ’s guidelines on impartiality are crystal clear:

[Section 8.4 Impartiality] Our audiences should not be able to tell from our output the personal views of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.

And, more precisely:

…may not express personal views in RTÉ output, online or elsewhere, [my bolding] and must be careful in their use of social media to avoid any perception of partiality.

Everyone who read the article now knows that McInerney is concerned about Michael Martin’s performance as Taoiseach and the continuing drop in support for Fianna Fáil. This is damaging to her credibility as a news and current affairs broadcaster.

Any robust questioning of opposition TDs will be seen as support for Fianna Faál. Any perceived soft interview with Fianna Fáil TDs or ministers will be seen in a similar light.

As one of the most popular and admired news broadcasters in the country McInerney has the potential to wield enormous political influence. She should not be allowed to do so. Time RTÉ management had a word.

Sarah McInerney and political impartiality (Public Inquiry)

Previously: Eamonn Kelly: Sleepily Comfortable And Casually Condescending

Rollingnews

31 thoughts on “Anthony Sheridan: Your Opinion Matters

  1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

    Is she definitely an employee of RTE?
    If a contractor, she may express her views without feeling the need to toe Dee Forbes’s line – although such may affect her gaining and loosing work.. as recently evidenced in Claire Byrne’s taking her morning slot.
    I’d be more concerned with Tubs’ editorialising /salary.

    1. bejasus

      all the parties are the same.
      none of them are any use.
      what exactly is there to discuss or debate?
      the result is always the same.
      a mess.

  2. Tom

    Absolutely spot on Anthony. Joe Duffy also had an opinion column for a while in the Daily Mail.

    Worth noting too that the RTE website often hosts very political pieces by RTE journos in contravention of the spirit of the BAI guidelines. Emma O’Kelly, RTE education correspondent, likes to use that forum to criticize denominational (religious) education, for example.

  3. jonboy

    Is there a link to the RTE guidelines on impartiality mentioned in the article? The sub-sections quoted without overall context could be misleading. Do we know are they for all presenters or just for news and current affairs?

  4. ColmB

    The premise of this column is false. First off, Sarah McInerney currently doesn’t work for, nor is she under contract to, RTE. The impartiality clauses that RTE news or current affairs presenters work under doesn’t allow them to, for example, advocate support for a political party or advocate for a political cause or a cause that is the subject of public controversy. Writing a column that expresses an opinion about Micheal Martin’s style of leadership is not in any of the above categories. Mr. Sheridan should know all that.

    1. Tom

      How do you write a political type column without violating the impartiality clauses that RTE news or current affairs presenters work under?

    2. The Bad Ambassador

      +1

      Nothing in the reproduced section suggests the author is pro or anti Micheal Martin or Fianna Fail. She has simply expressed a view that, if Martin wants to remain in power (and without causing a rupture in Fianna Fail) a change of approach is needed. There is nothing to indicate whether McInerney wants Martin in power for 2 years, whether she finds that prospect abhorent or whether her views lie somewhere between the two. It’s a piece of political analysis and, in my opinion, is right on the money.

      I haven’t read the full article. Perhaps there is something elsewhere in it that suggests bias – if so, the wrong section was referenced.

    3. Username where art thou?

      @ColmB

      Totally agree.

      Result-seeking nonsense from one already not well disposed to RTE. Commenting on Martin’s communications style is hardly redolent of bias. One cannot but see that Martin’s avuncular Jack Lynch style is totally misplaced in today’s world and not winning him any plaudits. Pointing this out is fair comment and tells me nothing about McInerney’s political alliegences and is, moreover, far from a “hot take”.

    4. Rob_G

      Imagine putting your own name to such a poorly-researched… blog post (I won’t even dignify it by calling it an article)

        1. Rob_G

          It doesn’t really, because it’s based on the premise that McInerney is currently working for RTÉ, and she isn’t.

          1. Bodger

            Why can Sarah operate in RTÉ as an interrogator without the restrictions staff are under? It’s either a principle or it’s not.

          2. V AKA Frilly Keane

            Lads

            The nature of Sarah McInerney’s contract with RTÉ has nothing to do with how she conducts herself or her does her job

            That only matters as to how she gets paid and to what the terms and conditions are

            If that’s all ye have to split open the writer’s column
            I’d say the lad will go far

        2. Tom

          Assuming McInereny is under contract with RTE, she is a broadcast employee of an employer which is (a) the tax-funded state broadcaster which claims to be politically impartial, and (b) legally required to be fair and impartial on political matters.

          Her offering political advice to the Taoiseach is a direct problem under (a) and an indirect problem under (b). It is true that as an opinion columnist her work isn’t implicated by the Broadcasting Act or by BAI norms, hence my reference to “indirect” problem above. But her offering political opinions as an RTE broadcast employee in current affairs is a direct problem for RTE’s claimed political impartiality.

          Again, I’m assuming McInerney is under contract with RTE.

  5. Tony

    She’s not the Garda Press Office. Journalists are allowed to analyse as well as report facts. Are we supposed to read her observations on Martin as some kind of plea from within the party? Not really buying it

  6. Toby

    Like many of todays female journalists Sarah Mc Inerney is confused. While broadcasting she confused her constant interruptions, rudeness and sneering tone with journalism. Here she is confusing her opinion with journalism. She has done nothing to earn he authority such opinion makers need. She is like that breed of female journalist like Colette Browne, Ellen Coyne who actually think their opinion matters because they are women and they are putting it up to the man. In reality they are tiresome and resort to bickering instead of doing the hard work. Being a woman doesn’t give permission to be second class, And pretending you’re pregnant to catch out catholics isn’t journalism.

    1. ColmB

      Straight up misogyny here and this line is a hilarious giveaway: “She has done nothing to earn he authority such opinion makers need.” So that’s what women need: He Authority!

    2. broadbag

      Incels assemble! This kind of vitriol should be reserved for the ‘journalistic’ dregs like Una Mullaly, McInerney is a cut above and proved with her stint in the Sean O’Rourke slot that she can handle anyone.

      Maybe spare some opprobrium for the likes of O’Rourke, a gunless poacher all too happy to turn gamekeeper, last spotted in Clifden with the other suited dregs, many of whom he’d been giving the soft soap treatment to for years.

    3. Toby

      Why don’t you deal with what I said instead of doing a Nigel on it and trying to elevate yourself in a sea of wokeness. when female journalists confuse sniping and griping with journalism, and silly men let them get away with ti, no one wins. The job of a journalist is to educate the audience, not prove how fabulous, fearless, kind and compassionate they are., Hiding behind accusations of mysogyny only feeds the problem.

      1. Toby

        Whats her dress sense got to do with it? Its hideous, but that’s besides the point. The women who think they can get away with wearing red are always the ones who cant!

  7. Username where art thou?

    @Toby You need to get laid – but I fear this is going to be something aspirational than actual for the foreseeable. Bloody women.

Comments are closed.