For those who are sceptical of my argument that there is a Sinn Fein shaped hole in our political media coverage, you’d need to take a magnifying glass to find reference to the unsavoury tweets from three SF MLAs revealed in detail on Nolan yesterday.
There’s a story in the Bel Tel about Doug Beattie needing help (and we will continue to look at how those tweets may continue to affect his prospects as a leader of the Ulster Unionists), but by and large the press took the view that a SF apology is enough.
And that despite the fact whilst the Twitter accounts of the three miscreant women are being forensically cleaned, as might have been advisable before they were co-opted as MLAs, at least two of their sitting MPs have also had their accounts taken off line.
Sitting MPs Michelle Gildernew (a public rep when Twitter began) and Chris Hazard have also had their accounts taken off line last night, presumably for a scrubbing of historical data. Yet, not a peep in the MSM. So when is a tweet controversial in NI?
The lack of balance here is almost as comical as it is concerning. And, by the way, it’s not the systemic unfairness to unionism that matters. In the long term it may be to their benefit that such odd refractories get brought to the surface and are dealt with.
In just the same way, a convenient blind eye may prove inimical in that disappearance of inconvenient ‘mistakes’ from the record may damage the ambitions of their beneficiaries. Journalism’s gift to democracy is to show politicians their weaknesses.
All the better to fix their faults. After all you cannot fix what you (or your voters) don’t know about.
Featured illustration via Am Ghobsmacht.
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