This blog has been an intermittent affair but the recent booze-fuelled break has meant that I’ve been even more remiss in updating than a government press secretary. So what happened over the past couple of weeks?
Apparently, Brian Lenihan will soon start to lose that unbelievably black hair due to the interference in his private life by TV3. There has been a lot of pontificating about the decision by Halligan and her mates to give the Minister a deadline to inform his family about the seriousness of his illness before broadcasting an ‘exclusive’ on December 26th. There are a number of issues with this story that are a bit puzzling.
First of all, looking at the timeline, it would appear that the Government Press Office knew about the illness before Lenihan’s family and called on the major media outlets not to publish the story until the Lenihan family had been informed. This just goes to show that there is a very cosy relationship between the Government and news media. Why should news of this magnitude not be reported? It is a significant piece of news because a serious illness may have an effect on the ability of Brian Lenihan to do his job – one of the most important jobs in the country. Surely, to avoid the sort of mess that has occurred, the Press Office or Brian Lenihan should have issued a statement once the family had been informed – and I assume the family would have been informed very soon after Lenihan was given the news.
The second puzzling element is that TV3 gave Lenihan 48 hours to tell his family before broadcasting the news. Why wait? If TV3 thought the news was important then they should have reported it immediately.
What really has me scratching my head is the amount of comments in the so-called serious press about the “terrible” invasion of Lenihan’s private life. Once again, Irish journalism trips around the periphery of a subject without getting to grips with the important aspects. The Irish media, with a few honourable exceptions, has become a mere reporting and PR machine and the lack of any serious investigation into Irish politics and society in the past decade is something that should make Irish journalists stop and ponder. The likes of Gavin’s Blog, Maman Poulet and Public Inquiry seem to be doing more to uncover what is going on in our state than any of the mainstream media outlets.
Another aspect of this issue is the fact that Lenihan has no problem getting treatment at the Mater Private Hospital. It’s great that he can afford to have private treatment but I wonder how he feels as other patients or would-be patients suffer as the public hospital plans to close down beds and reduce services. As Minister for Finance, the decisions that Lenihan takes has a direct impact on the most vulnerable in our society. Fianna Fail and Mary Heartless have spent the past ten years or so trying to destroy what could have been a very good public health system.
There is no surprise that when Lenihan chose to address the nation that he picked RTE to broadcast the interview. This is not just because of the crass report from Halligan at TV3 but also because RTE have become the Government broadcast agency. This is the same station that chose to issue an apology to Brian Cowen because it reported the story about those pictures smuggled into the National Gallery.
Read Full Post »