Credit: Colin Park via Geograph CC BY-SA 2.0

The media’s boogeyman problem

As I have noted before on these pages, the one thing you will never hear or see, watching RTE or Virgin Media, or listening to most commercial national radio stations, is an interview with a member of the so-called “far right”.

This is remarkable, really, when you think about it. The coverage devoted to demonising these people takes up literal acres of print space, and endless hours of broadcast time. We are told almost on a loop that these people are “extreme” and “dangerous”, and that they are “exploiting” local concerns, rather than either being local themselves, or having legitimate concerns of their own.

But there is a strange dichotomy: on the one hand, we are told relentlessly that the boogeyman has left his stronghold, and is on the march to a town near you, to take your freedoms and your diversity. On the other hand, no footage of this boogeyman can be found. We are told that there is rampant racism in this movement, yet there is no footage of anybody saying anything racist. We are told that there is rampant hatred, and yet there is no footage of anybody saying anything hateful. The threat is simultaneously everywhere and imminent, and yet, you can’t be shown the threat. And the threat cannot be interviewed.


What follows is a theory, but it is a theory borne out of twenty years of observing and interacting with the Irish media, and the wider Irish establishment. Here it is:

The threat the “far right” (I use the term here not because I agree anyone is far right, but because it’s the one the media uses) poses is not to you. The threat the “far right” poses is to the Irish establishment. That is the primary reason why it can only be spoken about, and not spoken to.

Call it the common sense problem: There’s always a chance some media outlet might get very lucky, and manage to get on camera, or into a studio, that one headbanger at a protest who is convinced that the people inside an asylum centre are secretly UN soldiers here to sterilise Irish people at the behest of George Soros. But the media cannot take that chance, because there’s a far greater chance that the person they interview will, without much difficulty, make some basic and common sense points about Government policy.

They might note, for example, that it makes no sense to import tens of thousands of additional people into a country that lacks homes and roofs for the people already here. They might note that Ireland’s asylum refusal rate of 5% is vastly out of sync with the EU average rate of around 50%. They might note that Irish law already designates a range of countries – like Albania and Georgia – as “safe”, and therefore that there is no reason to accept any asylum claims from people originating there.

In short, there’s a real danger that if someone from the alleged “far right” is actually interviewed, they might make a surprising amount of sense.

At this point, it is important to note something about the Irish media and this issue: When most people think of the media, they think of an institution that is supposed to cover current events. But this is not how the media – or large parts of it – sees itself. The media we actually have is vastly more interested in shaping current events.

For example, when RTE broadcast convicted killer Steo Wall singing his song “more blacks, more dogs, more Irish” that was not simply a neutral platform being given to a talented artist. He was chosen entirely because of the content of the song in the times we live in. “This is what you should think” is the message.

Gript is of course no different, excepting that we’re honest about it: I think the public should listen to these protestors, and give them a hearing. I also think that the establishment should be questioned more sharply. If you watched our videos last week interviewing protestors in Ballymun and Drimnagh, and interviewing Labour TD Aodhán O’Riordáin, you see that news-shaping, or bias, or whatever you want to call it, in action: We asked O’Riordáin much harder questions than we asked the protestors.

That’s because I think it’s our duty to balance – even though we are tiny – every other media outlet in the country. I happen to think it’s the media’s job to question the powerful, rather than to denounce the powerless.

But I write all this to make a basic point: We are in the midst of an absolute wall of establishment propaganda against the supposed “far right”. That should make any discerning person wonder what exactly it is that the media does not want them to hear.


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