Tuesday 16 January 2018

Video: Fake Sinn Fein tweet at centre of Frontline presidential debate row has never been traced

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

NOBODY has ever managed to trace the 'fake tweet' broadcast by RTE during the final presidential election debate.

At a Joint Committee on Transport and Communications, Director General of RTE, Noel Curran admitted today that the national broadcaster had never managed to trace the IP address of the sender of a tweet which claimed Sinn Fein would hold a press conference the following day with a person who had given a €5,000 fundraising cheque for Fianna Fail to candidate Sean Gallagher.

The committee heard more about the background relating to the controversial Prime Time debate in the run-up to the election.

Amongst the concerns highlighted by TDs was the relative lack of hard questions put to the then candidate, and now President, Michael D Higgins.

However, the committee was told that an audience member was to have asked a question on abortion to Mr Higgins but that "half-way through the programme, that person changed their mind."

Michael Moynihan (FF) told the RTE representatives that he found it "very shoddy indeed" that they had not managed to trace the fake tweet to date.

New managing editor of News and Current Affairs Kevin Bakhurst said social media was current and important but commented that it is also "fraught with all sorts of dangers as we know”.

Mr Curran said it was critical that RTE learn from the mistakes that were made.

What happened in the Prime Time programme, coming so soon after what happened in the Mission to Prey programme has had a "profound impact on RTE", he said.

The very serious editorial failures made in these two current affairs programmes have rightly caused RTE to review and interrogate all of its editorial policy, practices and values, he added.

They have also caused "concern and anger” both within RTE and among the general public 'whose trust in our organisation has been damaged,' he acknowledged.

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