Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So much for balance

The Irish media likes to think of itself as serenely balanced between opposing extremes, and that impartiality is its greatest virtue.

Such self-flattery is not restricted to those who work in broadcasting or for the newspapers, but it seems nonetheless to abound in that profession to an extraordinary degree.

The profoundly overrated Modern Man, writing for the profoundly overrated Irish Times—which takes itself far too seriously—cannot draft an article in which he is seen to take a side. All bases must be covered; no pro may be considered unless equal weight is likewise given to the contra. As a result his readers will never find him reaching anything like a firm conclusion on any subject whatsoever (unless of course some sacred cow of liberalism is at stake, whereat he will marshall all his powers of sophistry and wordcraft in its defence).

One finds a similar approach whenever a contentious issue is debated on the radio; the presenters of current affairs programmes will entertain two guests simultaneously, each approaching the matter from a different and often mutually antagonistic perspective in a perfectly balanced Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. But if the subject under discussion entrenches near upon some issue dear to the heart of the liberal agenda, the pretence of impartiality is dropped at once, whereat every stratagem and every weapon to hand is immediately employed to the end that the evil reactionary opposition might be beaten back.

A ripe example of this occurred yesterday evening, in the aftermath of Cardinal Brady’s speech to the Céifin conference on the family. Drivetime on RTÉ Radio 1 took a break from its relentless plugging of the Obamessiah to rally the troops against a sinister attempt by the evil, backward, reactionary Church to promote a rigid opposition to the proposed Civil Partnership Bill. As usual, Mary Wilson had two guests; these were Colm O’Gorman, director of Amnesty International Ireland, and Karen Kiernan, director of One Family. Both were highly critical of the Cardinal’s speech and of the teaching of the Church on marriage, sexuality and the family. Melancholicus wonders who selected the guests, but they were obviously chosen with care so as not to upset the liberal status quo and, with that end in mind, they fulfilled their function admirably.

Was RTÉ not able to find anyone to speak on the Cardinal’s behalf, or to argue his case?

Or is it a case that they were unwilling?

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