Friday, October 28, 2011

All Over Now

Well, the campaign is over!   The count is on.  After a couple of months of one scandal after another spewing out of the media as they try to dig all the skeletons out from the closets of the presidential candidates (with the interesting exception of Michael D Higgins, funnily enough), I think we are all fit for the asylum!  

It felt like Tudor England as one head fell after another just like Henry VIII uncovering one treasonable plot after another.  Actually, it got very predictable after a while - as soon as one candidate hit the top of the polls (with the notable exception of Michael D Higgins, interestingly enough), the media jumped out of the closet like that guy in the mask in the Scream movies, and "WHAM!" another head falls.  I have to say, this campaign has been the filthiest we have ever endured. 

So who is going to win?  I'd say Michael D Higgins (did I mention that, for some strange reason the media did not seem to put him through the same rigorous questioning as the others?  Funny that).  I'd say, though, we will have an interesting day ahead. 

When everything has died down, it would be a good idea to take a long, hard look at this campaign, and particularly at the way the media has behaved - in particular RTE.  There is little doubt that this election has been the media's - they set the agenda.  Have the people been manipulated by the media?   Seeing as Higgins got such an easy ride and no grilling from the media (the question of his age could be seen as a diversion to give the impression of balance - people might react - no one wants to be seen to be ageist), could we say that Higgins was their candidate?  It would be interesting to compare the many positive images of Higgins in the media in comparison with the negative images of the others. 

Ironically, if Higgins wins, we will have reverted to the former practice of putting a retired politician in the Aras.

There is a fine line at times between journalism and propaganda.  We know from recent history in Ireland that the Irish media leans towards propaganda in a number of areas, and it is a left wing media.  In reality Ireland does not really have a centre-right media, which is a problem.  The media have swung elections and referenda before - the last divorce referendum was one.  Marc Coleman on Newstalk a few evenings ago reminded us of the media's bias there and their role in persuading the people - the referendum was passed by a tiny margin.   So the questions we need to ask now: has the media become too powerful in Ireland?  Are they undermining democracy?  What can be do to curb the power of the media to restore balance in public debate?

Think about all this I ask myself how the media came to have such power?  I think the Church has had a role in that.  The scandals - exposed by the media, seems to have sharpened the media's teeth, and perhaps allowed them to become less of an organisation reporting what is going on in society, to actually becoming a player, indeed the prime player in society.  While still claiming objectivity, they have become partisan, leaders.  Ironically, they have now usurped the Catholic Church's role in influencing the people. 

Just a few thoughts.  But I think we need an objective investigation.

UPDATE:  I see that the tallies are indicating that the referendum on judge's pay will be passed - the first step taken towards bringing the courts under government control.  The referendum seeking to give the Dail more power in investigations seems to be lost: if it is I presume we will have to go to the polls again - as with recent referenda, when we give the "wrong answer", we tend to find ourselves send back to polls with a flea in our ear. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the media have gained power from the decline of the Church. In the very different Church and the very different Ireland of the 1950s, all the main social problems in the country were discussed in Catholic social societies and Catholic culture permeated all aspects of social and political life. With aggiornamento and Vatican II all that disappeared, but with nothing coherent to take its place, leaving a massive vacuum in Irish society. You can see this vacuum almost anywhere you look in Irish society.