Pat Rabbitte goes to war with RTÉ


I’ve just come from watching RTÉ’s The Week in Politics so I have media bias on my mind. Last week Harry McGee reported a survey which showed that Sinn Féin was at the bottom in terms of RTÉ appearances – although that wasn’t the focus of Harry’s attention. He was on about Pat Rabbitte’s claim that RTÉ was ‘a recruiting sergeant’ for the water protestors and Sinn Féin. Pat had the backing of the leadership of the Labour Party in so doing.

On The Week in Politics he was singing the same old song: RTÉ was constantly negative in its reporting of the water charges and there were ‘elements’ manipulating these protestors. (See what Pat did there? Fired a blunderbuss at the water protestors themselves and at RTÉ at the same time. You can tell he comes from good Worker Party stock, cantcha?) What’s more, while Pat conceded that the handling of the water ‘issue’ by the government had been ‘initially cack-handed’,  the people representing Irish water when they appeared on RTÉ were ‘brow-beaten’, ignoring how the ‘ultra-left and Sinn Féin’  were engaging in opportunism over the whole thing. Presenter Aine Lawlor suggested Pat was on an SOS mission – Save Our Seats.  Oh no, Pat said. He was only concerned that RTÉ drill ‘deeper than the froth’ on this issue and earn  the €150 million of public money it gets.

But of course Pat is on an SOS mission. The Labour Party could face annihilation at the next election, although it’s gained a few percentage points in the most recent poll. But when the facts show that of the parties in the Dail, Sinn Féin appearances on RTÉ are ahead of Lucinda Creighton’s new party Renua but behind all other parties,  you’d think Pat R would think twice before slagging off RTÉ. Uh-uh. The whole idea is to link the government with unbalanced and unfair treatment on  RTÉ, as distinct from such a bias link being formed in the public mind between Sinn Féin and RTÉ.

In terms of not just appearances on RTÉ but the kind of interviews that are done with Sinn Féin representatives when they do appear, it’s the Shinners who have grounds for complaint, not Labour.  But if Pat Rabbitte can do enough fat-faced fuming, the public just might forget that and see the government as the victims. It’s unsurprising that Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley, earlier in the programme, wondered if there weren’t those with a nostalgia for the Stalinist days at RTÉ. And unsurprising that Aine Lawlor quickly cut him off with “No, we’re not going there!”.

21 Responses to Pat Rabbitte goes to war with RTÉ

  1. PJ Dorrian March 29, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    Rabbitte, was formerly an adherent of ultra left wing politics, he did stick to them for a while until the lure of power made him see the light. “the Lost Revolution” was interesting in that it showed how OIRA decided to move into the media and the Trades Unions. Most of that generation is disappearing, although some of the late teenagers from the early 70s are still in place in Belfast. Still, I suppose the translation of Rabbitte from revolutionary socialist to conservative proves the old adage about power corrupting.

  2. IrelandSaoirse March 29, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    I remember Pat Rabbit saying when questioned about election promises more or less being basically telling lies to win seats, he said ‘well that’s what you do in elections’ (to get seats) or words to that effect,
    I heard him say it on whatever programme it was at the time, since then, RTE waffle whenever it’s brought up maybe by an audience member or a political opponent,
    they quickly say, ‘oh he didn’t say that’ or ‘that’s not what he meant’
    I heard him say it,he admitted their election promises were basically just lies, and yet RTE let him off with it,and cover it up like it never happened, I think Pat should be thanking RTE for that,
    If a Shinner had said it they would be replaying it on a loop every time they feel like having a dig at SF, which is all the time really.
    The southern media and west brit sect are so happy today because SF dropped 3 points in the latest opinion poll, they have been level with the blueshirts on most recent polls, yet SF are always mentioned last when quoting the said polls,
    section 31 may be gone but the bias against Nationalists continues.

  3. Iolar March 29, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    Love labour’s loss

    Be fair. The man has lost some personal belongings. He threw his towel in and cannot find it. He threw away the hat he was talking through and lost it. He has one hat left but the rabbit has become a floating voter.

  4. Cushy Glen March 29, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    Pat doesn’t come out of this video too well.

    He sits like an emperor quietly eating his food while all hell breaks lose around him in a restaurant. Looks like nothing will get between Pat & his food and all on expenses too.

    Do the people really matter to these politicians any longer?

  5. giordanobruno March 29, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    Sinn Fein had 25 appearances in the survey, virtually the same as FF, but not bottom as you claim.
    Ahead of the Labour party I believe even though the Labour Party has more TDs.
    As do FG and FF.
    But its all about the narrative I suppose.

    • Jude Collins March 30, 2015 at 8:33 am #

      Fair enough, gio – I’ll check my figures and meanwhile say you’re right. But’virtually the same’ is another way of saying ‘slightly lower than’, isn’t it? And that’s FF, who brought the south to its financial knees. And if you don’t see a bias against the Shinners in the south’s media, there’s nothing I or anyone else (or any figures) can do to persuade you.

      • giordanobruno March 30, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

        Fianna Fáil had 26 appearances, whereas Sinn Fein had 25.
        I think that falls into the ‘not statistically significant’ category.
        There may well be a bias, but this particular survey does not constitute proof.
        As you are fond of pointing out, allegation and anecdote do not amount to proof.
        So why not provide a survey or some other comparative analysis of negative stories in the media (I’m sure there must be one) to back up your assertion.

        • Jude Collins March 30, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

          Yo gio ( I don’t know why I waste my time with you…) Twenty-six is a bigger number than twenty-five. It comes above twenty-five. Therefore SF appearances were smaller in number than FF. OK? Nobody said anything about statistically significant – that’s a totally different area. I agree that a survey or comparative analysis would be better – but Harry McGee’s the nearest thing I’ve found to one and I can’t be doing EVERYTHING, can I? Guys with you who’ve time on their hands should be doing it…But I tell you what: the next pro-SF item you come on, on RTÉ or elsewhere, gimme a shout, OK? Ditto for Indo or IT…

  6. Perkin Warbeck March 29, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    What Brer Rabbit may well be engaged in here, Esteemed Blogmeister, is the eradication of the scourge of TB.

    This is not to be confused with the TB which the homeric Dr.Noel Browne got rid of back in the middle of the last century. Though the inspiration is obvious. Whereas most normal folk dream merely of a White Christmas evangelical secularists like Brer Rabbit dream of a Browne Noel.

    The TB in this case is, of course, Tar Baby as the Shinners are known by their recruiting sergeants in RTE and other Republican hot-beds. The original Tar Baby was a fictional character in the Uncle Remus stories of yes, Joel Chandler Harris (every possibility). A doll made of tar and turpentine, made to entrap Brer Rabbit.

    The more that Brer Rabbit fights the Tar Baby the more entangled he becomes.

    In modern usage ‘tar baby’ refers to any (gulp) ‘sticky situation’ that is aggravated by additional involvement in it.

    When de Sun helt its own up in de sky
    An’ de long drouth come, an; de branch run dry
    Mr. Fox an; Mr. Wolf look like dey’d die
    An’ all de creeturs wuz in de sam fix,
    Ceppin’ ol’ Brer Rabbit, wid his errytatin’ tricks’

    And,as is well known to all and the Sundry Dependent, nobody’s tricks’ are quite as errytatin’ as those of Brer Rabbit. Observe how Joel Chandler Harris (every probability by this stage) lists Mr. ‘Border’Fox and Mr. ‘Wolf’ Tone as the arch-enemies of Brer Rabbit.

    Smug is to Brer Rabbit what smog is to LA, and even the most hare-brained of slow learners knows that the Chuckyheads have no enemy more splenetic than those former members of the Workers Party who have been morphed into acrimonious hacks. The bile of these Bilious Boys is the envy of even the Billy Boys themselves.

    In the cotton tale (which our Brer Rabbit follows to a tee) his arch enemy the crafty Brer Fox from the Border Counties constructs a doll out of a lump of tar and dresses it up in old clothes (the familiar broad black brimmer and ill-fitting trench coat). When Brer Rabbit comes along he addresses the Tar Baby amiably but receivies no response.

    Brer Rabbit is offended by this (and as is widely reported nobody takes offence with such panache as ole BR). Perceiving it to be a gross lack of good manners BR proceeds to punch the offender. Hence, yes, the origin of the term, the Rabbit Punch. Right well known to all those sad souls who follow the dire doings in the Dail and the Dailies.

    And in punching the Tar Baby he gets stuck. And the more he punches and kicks the more the outraged Brer Rabbit gets stuck. In Cricket Ireland terms,one is talking about an extremely sticky wicket here,chaps.

    Tar Babies, of course, all tend to get tarred with the same brush. Whether it be Child Abuse, OTRs and are was seen recently, Punishment Beatings. If one didn’t know otherwise, one would almost suspect there was actually a Recruitment Drive Symphony in C Minor being conducted by the Sir Simon Rattled of RTE.

    Take Morning Ireland last week when The Woodman (‘I like to axe the hard questions’) took a breather and invited a prominent DOPE into the studio to mount an inoffensive offence against the MOPEs.

    (DOPE, ar ndoigh, being the acronym for the Demonisers of Pearse’s Eireland).

    The invitee in q. being one, Professor Liam Kennedy, Professor Emeritus of Elocution in Queen’s of Belfast. A Tipperary man, he is obviously from the hamlet known as Upperchurch in that far away country, such are the Upperchurchillian tones of his modulated pipes.

    The topic: Punishment Beatings of the PIRA/ Sinn Fein.

    Ever the pro, Cathal Mac Coille (for it is he !) had done his homework and had ascertained from the archives that the nickname with which natives of Tipperary are affectionately knownfrom time immemorial: the Stonethrowers. Thus he had assiduously assembled a wheelbarrow full of stones prior to the programme, from which he thoughtfully handed said projectiles to his honoured guest, he of the modulated pipes during the course of the target practice, oops, interview for the target audience..

    Included among the pile, it ought to be noted, was the odd rock from Cashel.

    Breakfast fare on Monring Ireland rarely vareis, apart from the odd dip into Welsh Rarebit:

    But’ de Woodman’s drink wuz allers new
    It wasn’t sweet-gum sap an’ honey-dew !

  7. Colm March 29, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    In the light of the RTE programme on punishment beatings last week isn’t surprising ( well, maybe not) that Aine Lawlor didn’t ask Mr. Rabbit’s views on those who are still limping around the place after corrective action taken by his former comrades in the Official Republican Movement.

  8. michael c March 29, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

    I have opposed Rabbitte politically for decades but I have to credit him with one of the greatest put downs in the history of Leinster house.A FF TD called Michael Smith had a very pompous manner and was pontifficating at great length during a debate when Rabbitte interjected to accuse him of sounding “like a monsignor on a bad line from Medjagore” !

  9. John March 29, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

    It’s funny you should pick this topic, timing wise Jude. There was a piece in the Irish (Unionist) Times (as Perkin would say), during the week – where i made my feelings known (see ‘Footprint’). As an aside, someone did point out the matter relating to Bryan Dobson’s salary, but as i said in the reply – i’m sure it’s crept up again – his no doubt belief that he’s the main ‘anchor’ – and ‘he’s worth it’. The additional link i posted after makes no mention of his salary recently. (And the 4 pages of comments are worth a look – as well as pertinent, there’s some quite funny ones!)

    Other than that, i hope you’re recovering well from Saturday’s ‘jog’ – and Many Congratulations and Thanks once again!

  10. RJC March 30, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    Not quite as prominent as its original false reporting, but The Irish Times has made an apology of sorts, and admits to getting it wrong in recent coverage of the water charges debacle. Not quite mealy-mouthed, but not far off –

    On another (slightly) separate issue, there’s some good analysis here on The Irish Times, universal health care, Denis O’Brien and Saint Leo.

    The Irish Times really needs to get its house in order. Fast. I believe staff morale is at an all time low at the Indo, and I can’t imagine things are much better over on Tara Street. Recent coverage of the Graham Dwyer case is just tabloid sensationalism at its worst. Yet The Irish Times is supposed to be a ‘respectable’ newspaper. Respectable me arse.

  11. giordanobruno March 30, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

    If you are trying to use the survey to show a bias against Sinn Fein then 25 appearances against 26 is hardly much use. That is without mentioning the other parties that had less appearances than SF!
    I just thought you being such a firm advocate of evidence and all (“make clear the difference between an allegation and a proven case” I think you say)…you would want to get it right

    • Jude Collins March 30, 2015 at 6:58 pm #

      Gio (Why do I bother with this masked man?) I repeat: 28 is a bigger number than 25. Hard to believe I know, but it is. After SF can Renua of Lucinda (You’re having a Laff) Creighton fame and the Labour/Frankfurt’s Way Party. Need I say more?

      • giordanobruno March 30, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

        I can’t make it any clearer than I have that this survey does not in itself show the bias you think it does, so I will leave it at that.
        But a quick response to the masked man jab.
        Yes I am anonymous, like many of your regular posters.I do not notice you calling on those that support your point of view to unmask!
        My argument is either good or bad,so simply debate the argument.What does it matter if I am Billy from the Shankill or Seamus from the Falls?
        If I was using anonymity to make abusive comments to you or anyone else, then yes that would be unacceptable. I hope you will agree that I do not do that. I see a great deal of unpleasant personal comment here by anonymous posters left unremarked by your good self.

        • Jude Collins March 31, 2015 at 10:38 am #

          Ah gio – like a love-struck Romeo I keep coming back to you…I think McGee’s survey is pretty patchy but it does suggest that Sinn Féin comes at the bottom of big-party appearances. I think that’s worth noting. Not conclusive proof of bias so much as a straw blowing in the wind. As to the masked man – you’re right, practically everyone else who posts here wears a mask as well. But I don’t know that pointing out everyone else does something is a good way of arguing that that action is good. Frankly I think it’s not. And I’d apply it to all the posters here. I know there’s an online convention (cf sluggerotoole) that people adopt aliases, but I really don’t see why. Are they afraid something will happen to them if they give their name? You’re right, gio, that there are abusive remarks passed and I’d much prefer they weren’t. But my rule of thumb is, I’ll put up a post if it is making a point as well as being abusive (well, insulting, let’s say); I won’t put it up if it’s just invective. Maybe I should be sterner but I really have to live a life too and that’s why I sometimes may make pure judgements when pressing the upload button. People like yourself could help me by drawing my attention to what you consider abusive posts and I’ll certainly take a second look at them.

  12. giordanobruno March 31, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    Normally the use of the word terrorist about someone is quickly questioned by you, yet you allowed someone to refer to “terrorist Tom Elliot “without even asking for evidence.
    Mick Fealty received a bit of abuse lately though he is big enough to speak for himself.
    And who used the term fat-faced recently to describe someone? What does that add to debate?

    • Jude Collins March 31, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

      Well you may have a point there, gio. If I can find it I’ll edit it. Amd I do recall Mick being dismissed with some vigour – perhaps too much. Point taken. But on the fat-faced front I will not change a word. Fact: Pat Rabbitte has a fat face. I call him fat-faced. He is. Just as if someone calls me bald-headed, they’re right: I am. Doesn’t advance the argument but it does add a little colour betimes. Don’t get stuck in an excessively PC rut, gio – come out and you’ll enjoy it.

      • giordanobruno March 31, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

        I will try, but I’m such a humourless git, it won’t be easy.

        • Jude Collins March 31, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

          True, but thinking positively, gio, self-knowledge is a wonderful thing…