Saturday 24 March 2018

Nuance or subtlety unwelcome at an RTE that's still in groupthink's grip

There are indeed things for which Pat Rabbite might criticise RTE, says John Waters, but bias is not among them

Pat Rabbitte
Pat Rabbitte
John Waters

John Waters

Pat Rabbitte begins to remind me of Garret FitzGerald. After he retired from politics, Garret became a habitual frequenter of public conferences, at which he would sit enthusiastically, compiling abundant notes. When the time came for the Q&A session, he would spring to his feet and, occasionally referring to the disordered sheaf of papers in his hand, offer intricate and brilliant solutions to the issues under discussion.

Brimful of proposals, brainwaves and brainchildren, Dr FitzGerald would discourse at length on every fissure of the discussion. For the duration of such perorations, the official speakers and audience members would remain spellbound, and at the end would weep as they applauded, united in a single thought: "If only a man with such vision, perception and awareness could become Taoiseach! What a country we would have!"

I had a similar response the other night watching Pat Rabbitte on The Week in Politics, lecturing Aine Lawlor about RTE's "lopsided" coverage of the Irish Water story. All of a sudden, it was as if Pat had become a fan of the Marquis of Queensbury, as he lambasted the RTE habit of interrupting Irish Water spokespersons in the middle of their sentences and reminded Aine Lawlor about the €150m RTE gets from the licence fee. "RTE is the public service broadcaster and there is a statutory obligation to do more than merely report and criticise," he scolded, uninterrupted. "In the words of Lord Reith in respect of the BBC, there is an obligation on RTE to entertain, inform and educate".

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