Thursday, 15 March 2012
That tweet: a station stands accused
Oh dear. If you're to believe the Irish Times this morning, RTÉ has got its knickers in a fearful twist about that tweet. You remember, the one that purported to come from Sinn Féin during the famous presidential Frontline debate - or that was announced as same by Pat Kenny. You can get the timeline for what happened that night, you can get what Sean Gallagher says and said - you can get just about anything on the topic, because RTÉ and its critics believe this tweet puts the station's reputation on the line.
I'm amazed. Well no, half-amazed. Half of me is impressed by the thoroughness of this tweet investigation, suggesting the determination of the station and everyone else to locate fault, if fault there be, and act accordingly. The other half of me is amazed - AMAZED - that nobody in RTÉ or, it seems, anywhere in the south thinks that RTÉ treated Martin McGuinness in a lop-sided fashion during the campaign. Given that I don't think I'm the only one north of the border who thinks this way, you'd imagine the Irish Times would have the odd irate letter. Not so, to the best of my knowledge. So the state and the station are aghast at a tweet being attributed to Sinn Féin when it wasn't, but have made no effort to see what balance there was between questions put to McGuinness during the campaign about his actions from, say, the past twenty years and his actions in the twenty years preceding that. Was it because talk of people being killed - by the IRA, of course - made for better television than questions about working for the creation of the Good Friday Agreement and the crushing work of keeping it in place in the years that followed? Was it that RTÉ and the state genuinely feared that the forces of law-and-order would break into Áras an Uachtaráin half-way through a McGuinness term as president and arrest him for war crimes? No, no, no. RTÉ and the state establishment were simply determined that no damned northern Shinner was going to come down and by his presence in the Áras accuse them daily of platitudes about partition. They didn't feel abashed about their partisan questioning of McGuinness - they gloried in it. They didn't feel embarrassed about the absence of questions about McGuinness's political career - they prided themselves on just that. Pssst, guys: little secret. Sometimes sins of omission are graver than those of commission.