Roy Greenslade has another post up on the subject of Mairia Cahill case. [Ahem, with the comments closed. Whose decision was that I wonder? Ed]. He cites a letter writer in today’s Irish Times EE Fanning (also a prolific and unremittingly pro Sinn Fein twitter writer):
“Only journalists outside of Ireland have questioned the treatment being meted out to Gerry Adams… The gated community of journalism in Ireland has little time for fairness when it comes to Sinn Féin.”
More seriously, here’s the core of Greenslade’s complaint:
It has blown up into a big story across Ireland in which political analysts and commentators in the mainstream media have repeatedly attacked Adams and Sinn Féin without taking on board their explanations for their actions.
To which the only response is: what explanations? He might also consider rewriting his last addendum, which he says Keir Starmer is reviewing Ms Cahill’s allegations. Mr Starmer is reviewing the DPP’s handling of the case: nothing more, and nothing less.
It’s an odd place for a former Professor of Journalism to find himself. Malachi O’Doherty was pretty direct on the matter on his Facebook page:
Roy is right to say there are journalists working for party political advantage. He is one of them. Most of those I know who have rallied to Mairia Cahill serve no party at all. There is bald cheek in party apparatchiks accusing independent journalists of political motivation.
I get the line about negativism in journalism. I’ve used it myself when I was more of a regular on the Comment is Free blog. But if democracy is to grow here, there also has to be space for disrupting awkward silences. Brian Appleyard has also made the point that identity matters:
All western – not just scientific – wisdom is based on identity. Advocates and their critics can be identified and their ideas formally tested. This is nothing to do with the statistics of crowds, and everything to do with the authority of the person. Take that away and truth and judgment become fictions.
In this way we get to weigh and test not simply the evidence but also motives and reliability of witnesses.
In Ireland’s highly distributed electoral system (north and south) has always suffered from bubble journalism of the type that holds the opinion of the ordinary (and particularly their political choices) in contempt.
But it is not unreasonable to make a case the treatment of rape and allegations of political cover up are deserving of a more focused and serious treatment. Particularly when it involves politicians ambitious to take on the leadership of a country.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty