THE Kevin Myers saga continues, with some undisguised criticism of his own newspaper’s uncritical attitude towards the peace process. He also raises questions about the media’s role in not rocking the Agreement boat.
No political project in my lifetime has received such continuous and unquestioning endorsement from the media as has the peace process. The former editor of this newspaper, Conor Brady, actually declared that the editorial support which he had given the peace process was the aspect of his stewardship of which he felt most proud.
Perhaps such largely uncritical approval in all the media affected the news coverage. Perhaps it was the natural desire of journalists to play a responsible role in the resolution of decades of tragic conflict; or perhaps it was a fear of being seen to be a warmonger. Whatever it was, over the past decade the peace process has been the focus of a steady deterioration of journalistic standards.
Indeed, the process spawned a entirely new breed of congenial, predictive journalism. This imaginative genre consisted of repeatedly making startling forecasts of imminent historic breakthroughs and major disarmament, with permanent peace to follow. Not one of these forecasts was correct. Not one. Yet the credibility and reputations of the journalists who were duped into trumpeting these same falsehoods, far from diminishing, were enhanced. Not merely could terrorists now inhabit a world without negative consequences for their errors – so too could hopelessly mistaken journalists.
Our trade should be about telling the truth unflinchingly, not writing stories to support political programmes. For the past decade, journalists have been protecting the peace process like guard dogs. That peace process is now over, slain by entirely predictable (and in this column, predicted) Provisional duplicity. Peace, Provisionally, has arrived. It is now time for the hounds of the press to go solely after the truth, regardless of consequence to the Provisionals.