Media bias? Or interdicting the #Mahon report?

Word is that the Mahon report is now definitely expected tomorrow and will make uncomfortable reading for Fianna Fáil, particularly for some of the elephants in the room at their recent Ard fheis. The elephant that didn’t arrive in the room in time for the Ard fheis was the actual report from the Mahon Tribunal that, one way or another, Fianna Fáil are going to have to deal with. Michael Martin’s leaders speech included what was presented as an apology:

We were in government and we should have acted differently. We made mistakes. We got things wrong and we are sorry for that. No equivocation. No half-apology, just the plain, unvarnished truth.

Since the Ard fheis there has been a focus among the wider Fianna Fáil retinue on supposed media bias. Sean Gallagher has been claiming that there are “the most fundamental questions about the trustworthiness and impartiality of our national broadcaster” [i.e. RTÉ]. His former flatmate, and Fianna Fáil ingenue, Noel Whelan also has attempted to present an outline of apparent problems in RTÉ’s attitude to accountability and the standards operating within it’s current affairs division. Fianna Fáil has also come directly out and criticised RTÉ via Limerick TD Niall Collins.

So, as the Mahon Report story unfolds, it will be interesting (and revealing) to see if the foregrounding of this concern for balance in media coverage was little more than a preparatory bombardment as Fianna Fáil attempt to interdict Mahon and it’s findings. In short, with no capability to shoot the message since as their leader has said: ‘we made mistakes’, Fianna Fáil’s only tactical option is to shoot the messenger and imply that the public narrative is being generated by a media that lacks balance. Unfortunately for them tomorrow we get some more detail on those ‘mistakes’.

And for a considered look at media bias – have a look at MediaBite’s mediashot.

  • Mick Fealty

    So you think the whole tweetgate concern was an elaborate screen for FF to soften up the media ahead of Mahon? What specific detail do you think we should look out for so as to avoid any such diversions.

    Meantime, if you check out the tweetgate timeline, there are some questions for another party to answer there.

  • John Ó Néill

    Mick – 2nd last paragraph is worth reading properly. You also need to restart the timeline with the event Gallagher organised, otherwise, it will continue to just look like another preparatory salvo. I’m suggesting that the political safety words to look out for with Mahon will be ‘media bias’.

  • Mick Fealty

    I will add those details, thanks.

    There’s no actual analysis in your report that links the two clauses of the headline. I would also add that if FF were planning to do what you suggest it would be incredibly stupid (which is presumably the effect you were looking for).

    Well, since we are in the business of making predictions: I predict the contrary, ie, that Bertie and ‘Old FF’ will get it in the neck and Martin will do a Neil Kinnock.

  • John Ó Néill

    ” if the foregrounding of this concern for balance in media coverage was little more than a preparatory bombardment as Fianna Fáil attempt to interdict Mahon and it’s findings” is pretty clear in linking the two and I’d suggest it would be cynical avoidance rather than stupid. Simply sticking it to ‘Old FF’ now as if this was a shock reveal would be stupid.

    Obviously – we will see how the reaction unfolds later today and over the next few days.

  • PaulT


    Old FF ?????

    as in a fortnight old FF?

    If Martin can’t even keep ‘old FF’ away from the annual love-in just how can he do a Kinnock, a Houdini is needed.

    So would it be media bias if RTE played footage of Bertie and Cowen getting standing ovations at the recent AF when even Martin uses the line ‘old FF’

    FF are toxic, and they are still largely fronted by ministers (incl MM) from ‘old FF’ even your recent FF Blogger was ‘old FF’ and also another one with questions to answer.

    Any thoughts on the possibility that Dev Og got himself chucked out of the Dail on purpose to avoid having to vote against FF on the upcoming Fiscal Motion.

    Is it possible he’s not as confident in Martins skills as Mick is nor as optimistic at the outcome of the report.

    Is he preparing a leadership tilt, or even launching FF Nua?

  • Mick Fealty

    ‘If’ is the chief operator there John. Nothing wrong with asking the question of course, but there’s no supporting analysis. It woz the media wot done it is a pretty stupid tactic which would only tar Martin and Co to Bertie’s economy with the truth. And I don’t actually believe Martin is that stupid.

    Moreover, I’ve not spoken to anyone in or near the party that is taking anything even tangentially close to that line.

  • John Ó Néill

    Yeah, people are assuming Ó Cuiv contrived to be thrown out to avoid the vote. He’s a FF loyalist, no doubt, but also a cabinet veteran and I think, at this stage, he just doesn’t have a heave or new party in him. He may well just go into a surly retirement claiming guardianship of Fianna Fáil’s core values from the dreamy days of single party govts etc (as FF would see it). Mahon may be less damning than people expect. It’s the impact/response of FF that will be interesting.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry, I added that bit afterwards. I’m not overly persuaded by his skills, I just don’t think he’s as stupid as you’d like us to think.

    FF’s response will be interesting… worth a live blog?

  • John Ó Néill

    Given the size of the report it will be a while before anyone digests it properly. You need to go lazy and just add a twitter widget to run in the sidebar with topical hashtags so live blogs are less bother.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m going for a rolling blog… just pick up highlights…

  • Mick Fealty

    “I would not put any weight on the fact that the report does not find Mr Ahern corrupt…” – Sen Thomas Byrne

  • Mick Fealty

    He also says that the party has asked for this report to passed on to the DPP… no mention of media bias yet…

  • PaulT

    no wonder Bertie was so keen to be seen at the AF

    O Cuiv may not have the ambition for a new party but Michael McDowell has and has the skills,

  • John Ó Néill

    @Mick – patience! The media have to cover it before it can be suggested that they are taking a particular view on it. I’m guessing that the initial reaction will have to die down before we get the position FF want to hold over the medium/long term, which won’t happen until after the Dail debate next week, at least.

    By the way – Vincent Browne is doing an hour and a half long special on Mahon this evening which should at least be good cabaret.

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed, to that last… But the early messaging is clear enough… There is not the least hint of an interdiction on the media, yet…

    I tuned in last night for a mention, but they were clearly keeping their powder dry…