Monday 18 December 2017

The Right is never right for the right-on

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Eilis O'Hanlon

Sometimes there's just nothing else for it than to reach for the off switch.

For example, when hearing this fearful promise on BBC Radio Four: "Coming up on Front Row tonight, a beatboxer who performs the poetry of William Blake, hip-hop style."

Er, no thanks.

Or, even more horrifically, this from Dublin Talks with 98FM's Adrian Kennedy: "Do you own or possess a penis?" (As said to a male caller who was brave enough to admit that he helped his wife with the housework.) Though anyone who listens to late-night radio phone-in shows probably deserves all they get.

Even tuning in earlier in the day is no guarantee of quality. On Thursday morning, The Ray Foley Show on the same station hosted a discussion on where men go to the toilet when they're drunk - behind the TV; under the stairs; in the wardrobe. It's a far cry from the old days of The Gay Byrne Hour.

The wondrous Charlotte Rampling was also musing on the dubious merits of progress on Wednesday's Woman's Hour, namely the increasing pressure on men to stave off the ageing process, which women have endured for years.

Presenter Jane Garvey said what she loved about the now 69-year-old actress is that you know, when watching her on screen, that this is what she really looks like. Rampling agreed that she always wanted to convey "the full me, not the false me". In a week dominated by shiny, happy Rose of Tralee fakery, it's not a bad slogan.

Having unkind comments made about their appearance isn't a problem only for women either. The always engaging Talking Point on Newstalk last weekend hosted a discussion of unlikely US presidential hopeful Donald Trump, during which journalist Angela Long began by saying that her favourite description of him was that "something crawled on to his head and died".

Later, discussing another Republican hopeful, Rand Paul, she again began by mocking his appearance: "It looks like a wig, but it's not, it's his hair." One can only imagine the furore if a male contributor made similarly disparaging remarks about Hillary Clinton's looks.

Harry Browne, the left-wing journalism teacher, was then heard to declare that the billionaire's "main achievement in life is creating obnoxious architecture".

Really? Not generating billions of dollars worth of business, thereby providing jobs and incomes to thousands of ordinary workers? Yet this is the man we're meant to regard as less fit to run the economy than professional politicians?

US Republicans rarely get a fair hearing on Irish radio.

During a discussion about maverick politicians on Sunday's Marian Finucane, the presenter actually said: "How would you explain how one thing is happening across Europe, ie a move to the Left, and in America [there is] this apparent appetite for the Right? Mind you, we have the Right as well, in the National Front..."

So in one smooth move we'd gone from Donald Trump to neo-Nazis, which, when you think about it, is quite a leap.

Sunday Independent

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