Tuesday 20 February 2018

Radio review: Did you hear the one about Trump's hair?

Radio host Sean O'Rourke
Radio host Sean O'Rourke

Eilis O'Hanlon

Phillip Blond is a former adviser to Tony Blair. He was on Sunday's Marian Finucane, where he was asked to give an assessment of David Cameron's time as UK prime minister.

He offered a balanced appraisal, stressing how Cameron had "stabilised the economic ship", whilst lamenting that he hadn't done more for those who "haven't benefited from the globalisation years".

Marian swept past all those niceties, with the air of a woman who was late for an appointment, suggesting instead that Cameron's legacy would be that, by calling a referendum on Brexit, "he put his entire country at risk, and its future and its shape and its destiny, for the sake of his own political neck and his own party."

Consider it another striking illustration of how the media chattering classes, in Ireland as in Britain, made up their minds about Brexit from the start and are still not receptive to alternative points of view.

They're just as stubborn about Donald Trump. On Radio Four's Today programme, veteran broadcaster James Naughtie was in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, at which Trump was set to officially become the party's candidate for the White House.

Naughtie noted the empty high streets and abandoned steel works, but was much less interested in this than in chiding the candidate himself, who, he declared disapprovingly, "uses language we haven't heard in the modern era", including calling Hillary Clinton "corrupt" and a "crook".

That the language used against Trump is equally charged and emotive went without comment. Are the forces ranged against him not unprecedented too?

There was more sniffiness on Today With Sean O'Rourke, where RTE's Fergal Keane declared of the Convention that it had a "whiff of Fianna Fail about it, but people are just much better dressed".

"I suspect there may be some very well-dressed and elegant FF people who'll take exception to what you've been saying," laughed Sean; but there was more condescension to come as Keane latched on to "the shoulder pads and the big bouffant hair" of the US politician, even following it up next day by asking boxing promoter Don King whether his famously big hair had inspired Trump.

King had been making some cogent points about how "people are rejecting the government", and how Trump "is saying we will tear this system apart", adding "he's the only one who's iconoclastic enough to throw that ball out there"; but he may as well not have bothered.

Thank goodness for Chris Donoghue, at the helm of The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, who provided some needed balance as he interviewed US communications consultant Gina London. She warned that the Clinton camp is making the same mistake which lost Cameron the Brexit vote - presenting themselves as the establishment candidates to an electorate which is sick of the status quo. Good luck with that.

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