Monday 24 October 2016

Radio review: Being popular is easy for independents

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 25/04/2016 | 02:30

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton after winning the New York state primary election (AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton after winning the New York state primary election (AP)

A casual listener to last Tuesday's Today programme on BBC Radio Four could have been forgiven for thinking that Hillary Clinton was on course to lose the Democratic primary in New York later that same day.

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The report, by Nick Bryant, opened with a nine - yes, nine-year-old - supporter of socialist rival Bernie Sanders chanting the Vermont junior Senator's slogan 'Feel The Bern' at a rally in a state that, Bryant pronounced with hammy significance, is "supposed to be (Hillary's) political home".

It continued with a string of voters fiercely critical of Clinton for her apparent failure to be "progressive" enough, all summed up by one man in the words: "Hillary is even further right than Bill."

Bryant then headed to Chappaqua, where the Clintons have a home, to attend a "local tavern" where there were even more detractors declaring her to be "for Wall Street" and "not authentic". Only one voice was heard in support of Clinton, and that was a woman in a "ridiculously trendy" nightclub that apparently looked like "a scene from Sex and the City". The subtext here wasn't even subtle.

Hours later, the results were in and Clinton had secured a 58pc share of the vote, taking all five boroughs of the city, including Brooklyn, Sanders's old stomping ground, as well as securing nearly 68pc of the vote in Westchester county, to which Bryant had trekked all the way in search of dissent.

As for the "noticeable ... lack of support from women" that Bryant detected, Hillary won a decisive 63pc of their votes.

It was another example of the easy ride that left-leaning candidates outside the political mainstream are getting right now on air, as if the very word "independent" grants them immunity from any charge of political opportunism. That goes for the Dail as much as the White House. Hillary would be getting the same dismissive treatment in Irish media if there wasn't still a sentimental attachment to her.

Right-leaning mavericks are, of course, simply dismissed as nutters.

Tuesday's Morning Ireland ran a report by Caitriona Perry which also featured the testimony of ordinary voters, this time being asked their views on the Republican frontrunner. "New York city people know Donald Trump and they're not going to vote for him" went the consensus.

In fact, Trump won four of the five boroughs in the city, with an even higher percentage of the vote in a three-way fight than Clinton won against a single opponent. Morning Ireland's verdict next day: "Donald Trump has won… Hillary Clinton triumphed." You have to laugh.

Sunday's Documentary On One asked if Anglo-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen was a British spy. It concluded that she might have been, but only to help fight the Nazis during the war, and local people in Cork at the time didn't care because they were so fond of her. This was another engrossing, well-crafted work by Leanne O' Donnell that deserves to be widely heard.

Sunday Independent

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