Tag Archives: RTÉ Bias

RTÉ website this morning

RTÉ News.

Still spinning.

Bless.

Fianna Fáil edges Sinn Féin in race to win most seats (RTÉ)

Clockwise from top left: Alison OConnor, Fionnan Sheahan, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke;

This morning.

On RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

Ireland editor of the Irish Independent Fionnan Sheahan, Irish Examiner columnist Alison O’Connor and RTÉ’s Niamh Lyons joined Mr O’Rourke to discuss last night’s leaders’ debate on RTÉ’s Prime Time.

The panel discussion followed Mr O’Rourke interviewing Breege Quinn about the murder of her 21-year-old son Paul Quinn in Monaghan in 2007, following comments made by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald during last night’s debate.

During the interview with Ms Quinn, she said Sinn Féin’s Minister for Finance in the North Conor Murphy should resign or be stood down as minister.

Following this, Mr O’Rourke asked the panelists how the matter might effect the election “in the last three crucial days”.

Alison O’Connor: “Well I suppose, Seán. First of all, I mean, that Breege Quinn, I mean, what, I found myself really moved by her interview and almost close to tears at times. What she’s been through, her immense dignity and even where she said, at the end, two wrongs not making a right.

There are a lot of people as we know who want to vote Sinn Féin in this election. People who would not have considered it before and it’s for understandable reasons because they say want change and they’re not expecting to get that change from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

But I think that, in a funny sort of a way, it’s this blowing up at this time is not a bad thing. Because this is part and parcel of Sinn Féin’s history and their past and that we see this playing out. People will be able to make, I believe, a fully informed choice.

“And in a way, it gets to the heart, I mean this is something that happened 13 years ago. And Mary Lou McDonald is implying, saying, whatever, that in that space of time and even in more recent times, I mean, it has come up, Mrs Quinn was on [RTÉ’s] Drivetime the other day as well, that she didn’t have either then, now or in the last couple of years a full conversation with Conor Murphy, a very senior member of her party, to see where exactly things stand.

Either a) that just doesn’t have credibility or b) shockingly, it’s very far down the list of the party’s priorities. And I would also say, as someone who observes, has been observing politics for a long time, this is the bit that fascinates me. If Sinn Féin are in Government, in a coalition arrangement, and we’ll say that was actually an interview on Prime Time last night, and Mary Lou McDonald was a minister and she was asked that question by Miriam O’Callaghan and gave that unsatisfactory an answer, how that plays, how we’ll say the Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael side of the house would cope would that. And the fall-out from that sort of thing.

“And my final point as well then is, just watching it as a viewer last night, I thought Miriam O’Callaghan did magnificently with the questioning. Why didn’t Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin, I thought, in terms of, just purely point scoring which it seems wrong to bring that level of it to this conversation, did not pile in, did not ask any questions?”

O’Rourke: “Well, perhaps because they felt dignity required and also the political reality, nothing needed to be said. Fionnan Sheahan, I suppose when it came to other aspects of law and order and the ugly side of our relatively recent history, the question of the Special Criminal Court was one that Mary Lou McDonald struggled on as well?

Fionnan Sheahan: “Yeah you’re colleague Bryan Dobson has a three-question rule. He says on TV, when you ask somebody a question three times and they haven’t answered it, the viewer at home can quite clearly see ‘well, they’re not answering the question’. Miriam O’Callaghan went further, she asked the question four times and Mary Lou McDonald failed to answer that question about the Special Criminal Court.

“Sinn Féin’s position now is that they say they want to review the Special Criminal Court. They have opposed the Offences Against The State Act every time it has come up in the Dáil over the past generation which implies that they are opposed to the Special Criminal Court. So Mary Lou McDonald could not come out with a straight-forward [inaudible] last night, saying ‘I’m in favour of the Special Criminal Court’ which not only affects prosecutions of alleged members of a terrorist organisation but also is a key element of combatting gangland crime.

“So I mean, in effect, you are seeing in a situation like the murder of Paul Quinn, north of the border. However there are situations where is nigh impossible to get witnesses into the witness box and that’s why we…”

O’Rourke: “I suppose looking at this, Niamh Lyons, like all political change, sorry, like a lot of political change, it has to be done crab-like. That’s how they got to the ceasefire over a quarter of a century ago and it was interesting looking at Eoin Ó Broin on the Virgin Media analysis, the post-match analysis, he was saying, just by way of clarification on that, Sinn Féin, yes they want a review of the courts and they want it done by a senior judicial figure and they will accept the outcome. So if that recommendation is the Special Criminal Court stays, they’re happy for it to say.”

Niamh Lyons: “Yeah and there has been criticism of the Special Criminal Court by the likes of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties,  Amnesty International. I think the issue here, for Mary Lou McDonald, is that she wanted to be front and centre in that debate last night. She put herself up there, playing the senior hurling but she wasn’t at the match at all.

“And this is where I suppose the rubber hits the road for her candidacy. You know, when you hear her, that accusation that, you know, who runs Sinn Féin? On that issue and the Special Criminal Court and on the issue of Paul Quinn, she’s unable to pivot in her own position and if you go on the Sinn Féin website, you’ll see a picture of Mary Lou, you’ll see Pearse Doherty, Michelle O’Neill and Conor Murphy.

“He’s one of the top four people in the party. He’s their lead negotiator. So why is she not allowed pivot away from something that he has previously said. You know, why is she so on the backfoot on this issue. Why does she sit down in front of Bryan Dobson, not knowing that not only had Conor Murphy made those claims but Gerry Adams in the past has made those claims. Why did she not check it out? Is she following a particular line?

O’Connor: “I mean that’s the heart of it. This is a woman at the peak of her…this is a woman at the peak of her political powers right…”

Talk over each other

O’Rourke: ‘But is there a light-touch relationship with the truth? You know, I mean she, in this studio, sitting where Fionnan is sitting, she said she believed Gerry Adams when he said he wasn’t a member of the IRA.”

O’Connor: “Actually Seán, I’m trying to…she didn’t quite say that. She said something like ‘you accept’…because I remember hearing that interview, I’m trying to remember her wording now, it was a very particular wording and…of course the criminal court was going to come up. I’ve heard her address it previously in the campaign. Of course the Quinn story was going to come up. So I find it very interesting, I didn’t see Eoin Ó Broin last night.

“So Eoin Ó Broin, who’s of lesser standing, if you like, than the leader is able to say that Sinn Féin would accept the outcome of a review into the Special Criminal Court. So it gets back to the heart of that issue, where we wonder, who pulls the strings on these sorts of issues, the whole, as Micheál Martin calls it, the old provos issue and why Mary Lou McDonald doesn’t appear to have the absolute autonomy as party leader on these issues.”

O’Rourke: “Let’s move to another…”

Sheahan: “The issue I suppose is that: do people care?

O’Rourke: “Well…”

Talk over each other

O’Connor: “Yeah, that’s an interesting…”

Sheahan: “The calculation Sinn Féin will make now is ‘well, you know, how many people are going to know who Paul Quinn was and how it was that he died and how many people, the man on the street, is going to know who Conor Murphy is? And that’s all stuff north of the border’…”

O’Rourke: “Yes, and there are atrocities on all sides…”

Sheahan: “Yeah.”

O’Rourke: “And if you go back long enough into the history of all the parties, very bad things happened. Now let’s move to another aspect of this debate…”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: How Was It For You?

RTE Director General Dee Forbes during an Oireachtas hearing last year

“RTÉ – and all Public Service Media organisations (PSMs) – prizes its independence, objectivity and impartiality. It’s in our DNA and, truthfully, it’s an established principle in Irish society.

Yes, we have the usual conversations about fairness and balance, from all sides, but I wouldn’t call it political pressure and I don’t think that is something that RTÉ is subjected to.

To be frank, the principles to which we have adhered for decades, and to which all PSMs adhere, are fundamentally designed to combat fake news anyway.

We have been battling fake news since our foundation and our very existence is a marker in the sand against disinformation.

This is why PSMs are a cornerstone of democracy, and anyone who thinks that’s just a soundbite should look now to Russia, to Poland, to Romania.

Societies can pivot very rapidly and without strong PSMs that pivot is all the easier.”

RTÉ DG Dee Forbes.

Also: Deesingenuous, Deeplorable and Deeply dippy if not positively Deemented.

Why public service media is “designed to combat fake news” (RTÉ)

From top: RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan; Mary Lou McDonald and Arlene Foster in Derry for the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee; Anthony Sheridan

Falling revenue coupled with a serious challenge from social media has in recent times prompted the establishment media to emphasise how important professional, objective and well researched journalism is to society [See here and here for examples].

Unfortunately, these claims of high quality journalism are more fake news than fact particularly when the establishment media is reporting on those who pose a threat to the interests of the ruling political centre made up of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour.

Sinn Féin represents the greatest threat to this exclusive political club and for that reason is frequently targetted by establishment media.

RTÉ in particular has effectively abandoned all pretence of objectivity when it comes to interviewing Sinn Fein representatives.

A comparison between an RTE interview with DUP leader Arlene Foster and what can only be described as the interrogation of Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on the day of the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee clearly exposes the blatant bias of the national broadcaster.

Foster was interviewed on Morning Ireland in a carefully choreographed piece that portrayed her and her party, the DUP, in a largely positive light.

First we heard a short 37 second clip of Foster speaking earlier on BBC Radio Ulster in which she expressed her feelings during the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

RTÉ reporter Tommie Gorman was then invited to respond and proceeded to give a glowing account of how the DUP was ready to engage in talks but [unfortunately] Sinn Fein was adopting a strategy of caution.

Arlene Foster was then respectfully and professionally interviewed by RTÉs Gavin Jennings without interruption or bullying but also without any serious challenge of her views.

She was allowed to promote the view that she and her party were very willing to sit down with Sinn Féin [if only they would cooperate] and sort out any issues they had.

Tommie Gorman was again invited to give his assessment of Foster’s views. He proceeded to give another glowing account of how the DUP was eager to get politics back on track in Northern Ireland and, again, concluded his analysis with a negative description of Sinn Fein’s election strategies North and South of the border.

Later on in the morning, and in stark contrast, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was interrogated, bullied and insulted in a disgraceful display of bias by Miriam O’Callaghan/RTE on Today with Seán O’Rourke.

The interrogation was preceded by yet another clip of Arlene Foster speaking as if her only wish in life was to bring peace and harmony to the whole world.

In the fifteen minute interrogation that followed McDonald was agressively interrupted no less that 31 times. She got to answer just one question without a bullying intervention.

It was clear to any objective listener that O’Callaghan/RTE was not in the least bit interested in McDonald’s views but rather in trapping her into expressing a negative opinon on the question of resolving the political stalemate at Stormont.

It was also clear that O’Callaghan/RTE were not interested in informing listeners that the DUP were responsible for the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly. That it was the DUP who initially accepted but then walked away from a compromise agreement with Sinn Fein in 2018.

In her efforts to trap McDonald, O’Callaghan didn’t bother too much with facts. For example, she claimed that in his sermon Fr. Magill was asking people to compromise when in fact he did no such thing.

McDonald, rightly, upbraied O’Callaghan for putting words into Fr. Magill’s mouth.

The moment of ‘victory’ for O’Callaghan/RTE came when McDonald said that Sinn Fein would not be capitulating to those [DUP] who wish to hold back progress in every form.

Triumphantly, O’Callaghan crowed:

“So am I hearing – ‘Sinn Fein says NO’?”

This was the whole point of the interrogation, to extract a negative soundbite from McDonald that would portray Sinn Fein as the party that was refusing to compromise on talks to restore the Assembly.

But there’s a bigger, more important reason for the constant attacks on Sinn Féin by the establishment media and that is the threat that Sinn Féin, as an outsider, poses to the power of the ruling centre of Irish politics.

For years now, in election after election, this ruling political elite, that has done so much damage to Ireland, has been losing the trust and consequently the votes of Irish citizens.

The weaker the political centre becomes the more strident and more blatant the attacks on all outsiders who pose a threat to its political power.

Over recent years RTÉ has drifted from a position of relative objective journalism to a point where many see the station as nothing more than an obedient mouthpiece for the ruling political class.

I would recommend listening to the O’Callaghan interrogation of McDonald to obtain a true sense of just how biased RTE has become.

Alternatively, take a quick scroll down the reproduced interrogation below which signposts every interruption by O’Callaghan.

Continue reading

Venezuela president Nicolás Maduro

Putsch?

Pfft.

President Maduro stays in office despite large May day protests in Venezuela (EuroNews)

Meanwhile…

Alice writes:

Did you hear Sean O’Rourke Show [RTÉ Radio One] yesterday discussing Venezuela? The two panelists are well known to be pro-US. Not that Sean O’Rourke told the listeners. Rory Carroll (Guardian Ireland correspondent) is married to Ligimat Perez Garcia, who happens to be extremely anti-Maduro. Carroll himself wrote a book lamenting the fact that Chavez got elected. The other panelist Eileen Gavin works for Global Risk Consultancy Verisk Maplecroft (which is pretty much a neo-conservative consultancy agency).

Previously: Escalating

Pic: AFP

Good Lord.

Anyone?

Watch back here

From top: Seán O’Rourke; Former Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

The former Tánaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, along with the fellow former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, of Fianna Fáil, spoke to Mr O’Rourke ahead of Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May facing a leadership vote of confidence later today.

While speaking to Mr O’Rourke, Ms Fitzgerald spoke about the difficulties of confidence motions; how a minister usually knows their department “inside out”; how a Tánaite must be prepared for difficult questions; and how she was “vindicated” by the Disclosures Tribunal.

On her resignation as minister in November 2017 and her political future, Ms Fitzgerald had the following exchange with Mr O’Rourke:

Seán O’Rourke: “You saw the rough and the smooth, particularly the rough side of it.”

Frances Fitzgerald: “I certainly did, as Michael Noonan said to me ‘you were cut off in full flight’..”

Ms Fitzgerald laughs

Fitzgerald: “….which is very true.”

O’Rourke: “And you resigned amid that controversy over the treatment of Maurice McCabe and the handling of the tribunal, sorry, not the tribunal, but the inquiry presided over by Mr Justice whose name I can’t quite remember.”

Fitzgerald: “O’Higgins. It was the commission that there was a query about which turned out not to be a proper query at all.”

O’Rourke: “[Justice] Charleton then ultimately, he effectively vindicated the way you’d handled that. But do you think you’ll see the Tánaiste’s office again or what are your hopes…”

Continue reading

From top: A demonstration on North Frederick Street following the forced removal of housing activists from a vacant property on the street last week; Marian Finucane; Anthony Sheridan.

When RTÉ was a national broadcaster the station provided a reasonably balanced news output. In recent years, however, since the station began to serve government rather than citizens, news manipulation has taken precedence over factual reporting and professional analysis.

On yesterday’s Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio One, for example, listeners were subjected to an intelligence insulting, extremely short, cartoon-like discussion on the disturbing events that occurred on North Frederick street during the week involving Gardai and housing protesters:

Panelist: “In fairness, Josephine Feehily and Drew Harris came out and said, no, that shouldn’t have happened.”

Marian Finucane: “And yet and yet and yet..its tough on gardai. I thought it looked… I mean I was astonished at how it had come about.”

Panelist: “Look, there is an issue around social media , there’s no doubt about that, but look, we expect to see people in balaclavas in the Basque country or dealing with the Real IRA or whatever. We don’t expect to see gardai in balaclavas policing genuine protests about housing.”

Another panelist: “I think the public were very, very upset about it and I’m thinking of something Theo Dorgan said once ‘I thought I was born into a republic’ and you see these private balaclava-clad guards arriving in a van. But protesting has changed, I think the gardai are very measured in the way they handle the physical and verbal abuse they get.”

Then another panelist changed the subject by referring to a protest Ms Finucane had participated in 48 years ago. Ms Finucane, seemingly delighted at the diversion, went on to reminisce about another protest she attended in the last century – and that was it.

That was the sum total analysis of the disgraceful and disturbing events in North Frederick Street where the gardai behaved more like second-rate nightclub bouncers than a professional police force.

Possibly under pressure by her producer to keep discussion of this embarrassing Government/gardai scandal to an absolute minimum, Finucane, in a fluster, did as she was instructed.

“Mmm…well…ah…I mean..we’ll move on very quickly. I think that deserves more conversation but I’m just watching my clock here and…”

Watching her clock? The discussion was taking place just half way through a two-hour long show and this major public interest story gets a grand total of 1 minute 56 seconds coverage.

This is not news analysis, it’s blatant news manipulation. No doubt, Fine Gael and the gardai are delighted with RTÉ’s collaboration in this type of warped current affairs analysis.

But RTÉ cannot escape the fact that, day by day, its reputation as a professional and balanced current affairs outlet is reaching the same zero credibility rating as that of our police force.

RTÉ news bias – Destroying credibility (Anthony Sheridan, Public Inquiry)

Meanwhile…

Hmm.

Previously: Garda Sources Say

Meanwhile…

There you go now.