Friday 23 March 2018

Memo to radio: The world is bigger than Hillary

Hillary Clinton's visit to Dublin last year REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Hillary Clinton's visit to Dublin last year REUTERS/Stephen Lam
'I’d always taken Duncan Stewart to be, essentially, the nicest man on the planet'
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Well, well. You think you know someone, then blammo! They pull the rug right from under your preconceptions.

I'd always taken Duncan Stewart to be, essentially, the nicest man on the planet.

Hours of watching him fret about environmental damage, or get enthusiastic about new e-technology, convinced me he was hippie-level mellow, with the patience of a saint and not an angry bone in his body.

Duncan may well still be the nicest man on earth. But he's got a temper too, as proven by that hilarious – come on, you know it was – interview with Shane Coleman on Breakfast (Newstalk, Mon-Fri, 6.30am).

Discussing media coverage of climate change, Duncan got antsy when the host cut across him. Thus followed the most surreal, amusing few minutes of the year so far, as Duncan demanded to know: "Do you want me to talk here? Then tell me how much time I've got. I want to know, I've a lot to say."

He threatened to "walk out of this studio this minute ... unless you tell me how much time I've got. Do I have to go to another station to say it?" Duncan's cri-de-coeur concluded: "Give me 10 minutes or I'm not staying."

Oh look, he has a valid point.

Climate change is a real and urgent threat, and the situation is harmed by media insistence on 'balance' – in this case, giving every whack-job denier with a tin-foil hat and daft theory the same airtime as oceans of provable scientific research.

But it was still funny. I know, I won't be laughing when we're all drowning under melted ice-caps.

Just as I wasn't laughing on Sunday at the latest manifestation of Irish radio's bizarre obsession with America.

Amazingly, at the exact same time (8-9am), Newstalk's World in Motion and Radio 1's World Report were both covering US issues: the former Hillary Clinton and Guantanamo, the latter – sigh – gun control.

These are both excellent shows, and more coverage of world affairs is welcome. But someone please explain why sections of our media are besotted with America.

Because it doesn't reflect the general population.

World in Motion opened with: "Constant chatter about Hillary Clinton's ambitions for 2016 continues unabated". Not in in the real world, it doesn't.


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