Thursday 22 February 2018

Liz O’Donnell: Media mauling of politicians truly appalling when so much is at stake

Picture: @stephenbyrne86
Picture: @stephenbyrne86

CAN I gird my loins and wade in here to support recent comments by Minister Pat Rabbitte, when he accused the media of "damaging democracy by denigrating politics"? I may be biased but the minister makes a fair point. When is the last time you read or heard a positive comment about a living politician? Obituaries are all very well and welcome after the event. But frankly, a word of praise for a living politician is as rare as a unicorn.

How has politics come to such a low ebb when it comes to public trust and media commentary? I never met Charles J Haughey, but all modern politicians now live in the dust thrown up by his reign. That era bequeathed a legacy of stroke politics, corruption and bad governance. It also grounded a deep distrust in politicians by journalists. When some of the next generation behaved just as badly, the die was cast. But this generalised distrust of all politicians is not only unfair, it is dangerous.

There were many politicians who stood up to bad governance and corruption over the decades, Des O'Malley, Dick Spring, Garret FitzGerald and others. Indeed political careers were defined by their opposition to that venal culture.

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