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21 June 2007 Edition

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Media View

Messenger boys for the rich and powerful

Claims of media bias against Fianna Fáil during the general election are both true and untrue. They are true to the extent that some sections of the media, The Irish Times for example, is intuitively and fundamentally hostile to the party of the great unwashed and also despises all forms of Irish republicanism – the populist, posturing variety as in Fianna Fáil and the real thing as in Sinn Féin. The Irish Times is a paper that sells less copies than either the Irish Independent or the combined weight of the tabloids but it acts as the the intellectual voice of the old establishment and the professional middle classes and as such it sets much of the political agenda.
On the other hand, the Indo and other media are more inclined to support a Fianna Fáil party that has largely set its republican past aside and which has forged an alliance with business and the multinationals. These newspapers support Bertie Ahern’s party as it is good for business and keeps the great bulk of the population in line with cosmetic concessions to the unions and to those on social welfare.
According to Village magazine, RTÉ published a little known analysis of media coverage of the parties during the election which showed that Fianna Fáil had a point in that Fine Gael, Labour and the PDs received coverage greater than their proportionate size than deserved compared to that of Fianna Fáil. But this imbalance was minor compared to the overwhelmingly greater coverage given to the PDs and Greens who received a multiple of the coverage afforded to Sinn Féin, despite both parties receiving less votes than Sinn Féin in the 2002 election.
The catch cry of media bias is usually the last refuge of the defeated political party and Sinn Féin members have long ago recognised that such hostile and lying media coverage of republicanism is simply part of the political terrain. It is the natural reflex of an establishment media that is terrified of republicanism. Media bias is a fact of life and while it is of little consolation to repeat it to ourselves it does no harm to occoasionally point it out and to pressurise those journalists who cling to the notion that they are more than mere messenger boys for the rich and powerful. It is also useful to remember that most Irish people have about as much trust in the media as they do in the political establishment.
One man who vented his anti-republican spleen in the media recently was Blueshirt businessman and owner of Omega air, Ulick McEvaddy, who has an impressive network of fatcat friends at home and in the US. McEvaddy is also a pal of local reactionaries like Mary Harney and Charlie McCreevy – the latter got into trouble for availing of McEvaddy’s pad in the south of France in 1999 at a time when McEvaddy was lobbying the government for various concessions that would benefit his aviation business.
McEvaddy told Marian Finucane last Sunday that his favourite party, Fine Gael, were quite right not to invite Sinn Féin into talks on forming a government as they were ‘unreconstructed terrorists’. This is the same man who recently proposed that Knock Airport could drum up some extra business by facilitating the US military in its illegal war against Iraq. McEvaddy’s Omega Air has lucrative contracts to supply the US Air Force with various services and therefore profits from the Iraqi carnage.
The Knock Airport board, of which McEvaddy is a member, rejected his proposal, saying it would only facilitate such flights on humanitarian and ethical grounds, meaning, in plain English, that McEvaddy’s proposal was neither ethical nor humanitarian. Perhaps McEvaddy will dismiss his fellow directors as a bunch of Arab loving terrorists.
The most amusing Irish Times editorial for a long time was published this week when the newspaper gave “the Irish left” a sympathetic and encouraging pat on the head for its brave failure in trying to boost Fine Gael into power. After years of encouraging Labour in this failed and damaging enterprise, the paper now suggests that attempting to emulate Tony Blair will not work in Ireland as the centre ground is fully occupied. When left wing Labour Party members tried to inform Pat Rabbitte of this elementary truth he rounded on them like some Stickie leader in charge of the Workers’ Party, terrorising them into silence.
The Irish Times lapsed into total contradiction when concluding its treatise by suggesting that the partnership model developed in recent years was the way forward for Labour. But then, Madam Kennedy (or was it Fintan O’Toole?) could hardly pursue the logic of the editorial’s initial rejection of the centre ground – this would mean a reorientation of Labour towards the left and the creation of an alliance with left forces like Sinn féin and trade union activists. What an appalling vista!

An Phoblacht Magazine


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