Wednesday 19 December 2018

RTE spins a lot of nothing into a non-story, and then puts it on repeat

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell. Photo: Pic Tom Burke
Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell. Photo: Pic Tom Burke
Gene Kerrigan

Gene Kerrigan

On Monday, I switched on RTE radio and they were interviewing Gerard Craughwell. At length. Because he decided he's not running for election as President of Ireland.

On Tuesday, I switched on RTE radio and they were interviewing Noel Whelan. At length. Because he decided he's not running for election as President of Ireland.

On Wednesday, I didn't switch on RTE radio.

I'm sure RTE will let me know when they're finished interviewing all the other 2,197,932 citizens who've decided they're not running for election as President of Ireland.

Mr Craughwell, I'm told, is a senator. Nevertheless, I'm sure he tries to lead a useful life.

Mr Whelan is a barrister, and he has a Fianna Fail past. Despite these handicaps, he has for some years been producing an intelligent newspaper column.

Neither Craughwell nor Whelan had anything terribly enlightening to say to RTE about not running for President of Ireland.

But they said it. At length.

To be fair, none of us would find it easy to make interesting radio out of telling people we're not going to do something.

If you do something, it might be worth some media notice. If you say you want to do something, but you haven't done much about it - the media really ought to ignore you.

If you announce that you're definitely not going to do something, well, the media ought to say, "Thanks for sharing", and gently hang up the phone. The earth is crawling with people who aren't going to run for president of anywhere.

What makes Craughwell and Whelan different from the other 2,197,932 of us who aren't going to run for President of Ireland is that Gerard and Noel had already made a media meal out of telling people they might run.

Then, they didn't do lot. They sort of hung around, giving the impression they'd kind of like to be President of Ireland.

Eventually, it seems, they got tired of people yawning whenever they entered a room.

So they announced they're not going to run for President of Ireland.

At which point, of course, the radio talk shows began interviewing them (at length) about not running for President.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, Sean Gallagher realised he was disappointed that Senator Craughwell isn't running for President.

I know this because Sean Gallagher was interviewed in a newspaper. He talked about his disappointment. At length.

I don't know if Sean Gallagher is disappointed that Noel Whelan isn't running for President of Ireland. If he opens up on this subject, I'll keep you posted.

The media wondered aloud (and at length) if Sean Gallagher's disappointment that Senator Craughwell isn't running might indicate that Gallagher himself wants to run for President of Ireland.

But Sean would not confirm that he wants to run for President. Nor would he say that he doesn't want to run for President.

I get the impression that if we were to ask Sean Gallagher nicely, he might say something like, "Oh, well, if you insist".

Sean Gallagher used to be on a game show. He, like Noel Whelan, has a Fianna Fail past.

I'm sure that Sean Gallagher would make a wonderful President of Ireland. He and Donald Trump would have lots of game-show stories to tell each other during state visits.

There's a phrase we use in the media. It indicates the period of months when the politicians shut down the Oireachtas and we can't play the usual game of Fianna Coke versus Fine Pepsi.

It's when the media desperately clusters around anything that has even a whiff of politics.

And we shine bright lights on it and poke at it and analyse everything it says. At length.

It's called the silly season.

Sunday Independent

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