No, I Won’t Pick Up A Book

Satellite-dishless, we get our television programmes via a good old-fashioned TV aerial. If it wasn’t for BBC, ITV and Channel 4, living in the Republic of Ireland would be like living in the Republic of Ireland only more so, if you know what I mean. Occasionally, I catch a glimpse of what this might be like, as happened this afternoon, when inclement weather knocked out the signal from the British TV channels, and I had to watch RTE 1 while I waited for Eastenders. There was a programme on about Terry Keane and the Late Late Show and how great an interviewer Gay Byrne was and there was your one Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh the afternoon programme blathering on as Gaeilge about Terry Keane and wasn’t she great and this and that and your one the PR woman Terry Prone who’s never off the radio giving her considered opinion about all sorts of guff. Jesus, I know that BBC and ITV and the rest also have TV programmes with people off other TV programmes, like all those brain-jarringly awful talking heads programmes about how great TV was when we were all growing up and that, but there’s something far more objectionable when RTE does it. I think it’s because there are only about 50 people who ever appear on RTE anyway, so it seems far more incestuous: all one big fat hows-the-mammy-a-thon.

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5 Responses to “No, I Won’t Pick Up A Book”


  1. 1 Mark Waters March 4, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Ironically, the programme alluded to the incestuousness of the Dublin-based media when one of the journalists expressed surprise at the public reaction to Terry Keane’s revelations. “We thought everybody knew about it already”, he said.

    I think the most interesting revelation of the programme was that a clique of journalists and politicians could conspire to keep schtum about the affair even though everyone of them knew about it from the get-go. It’s a real insight as to how Ireland was (and to a certain extent still is) run: a cosy cabal of small-town journalists and politicians giving off the appearance of a functioning democracy and fourth estate.

    Having said that I knew about the Keane affair long before it was officially placed in the public domain. I can’t recall how I found out, it’s one of those things that just seemed to seep into my conciousness.

    And if you think the programme last night was bad you should see the travel programme No Frontiers. It’s basically just giving away free holidays to RTÉ employees.

  2. 2 Marian Quinn March 4, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Mark Waters should not be surprised that “a clique of journalists and politicians could conspire to keep schtum” about a matter of possible public interest: such conspiracies have occurred in the past, e.g. it appears that the fact of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s paralytic illness was kept out of the public domain by such an agreement. In cases like this the decision might be excusable on the grounds of decency and the avoidance of unwarranted intrusion into personal matters (old-fashioned virtues?); but one wonders what other facts have been suppressed by similar agreements.

  3. 3 Hugh Green March 4, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    I’d say that a seriously flawed democracy, and systems worse than that, will have this sort of arrangement whereby journalists, or court scribes, will know the secrets of the private lives of those in powerful positions but will conspire to keep these secret, for fear of the rulers losing their magic sheen.

    A somewhat stronger form of democracy will have journalists (and their employers, of course) who feel no obligation to withhold details of the private lives of those in powerful positions, and may choose to reveal such matters when they determine necessary.

    In an ideal democracy, journalists will take no interest in the private lives of those in powerful positions because their private lives will be of no interest to the public.

  4. 4 Mark Waters March 5, 2008 at 9:42 am

    [journalists] will conspire to keep these secret, for fear of the rulers losing their magic sheen.
    I think it’s more likely that they fear been booted out of the magic circle. That seems to be the case with the White House Press Corps and with the Irish political journalists anyway.

    In an ideal democracy, journalists will take no interest in the private lives of those in powerful positions because their private lives will be of no interest to the public.

    That’s probably a valid excuse for suppressing the Charlie Haughey/Terry Keane story but what do you do with a man like Bertie who happily blurs the line between the personal and the political to his own advantage?

  5. 5 Hugh Green March 5, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Take your point about the magic circle.

    Re: Bertie, I did say in an ideal democracy. I’m thinking Sweden or somewhere like that. Certainly not Ireland.


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