Tag Archive for Late Late Show

No “Caravan of Love” for Connors in Donnybrook

Actor, Republican and filmmaker John Connors on the Late Late Show

This morning I re-watched the journalistic car crash that was the John Connors interview on Friday’s Late Late Show.

As John – an actor, Republican and filmmaker, who also happens to be a Traveller – went toe to toe, the interview quickly stopped being about John’s heritage or Ryan’s privilege, and instead became about those who weren’t there at all.

And it is in how we treat those who are not present that we learn where we are as a society in relation to our prejudices; Ireland may have made progress in recent years, but the conservative Catholic ethos still remains.

There is still a hierarchy, and it is slavishly adhered to by many in the media.

Take Paul Williams, a man who apparently told John Connors on film that as an ethnic group, Travellers bear a collective responsibility for criminality in their ranks.

Now in case you need it clarified for you, ascribing collective guilt is one of the oldest and most racist statements one can possibly make.

For instance, by that logic all Irish people bear responsibility for the campaign of bombing that tore through the British mainland in the seventies, eighties and nineties.

Which, of course, is nonsense.

By Williams’ racist logic we also bear responsibility for things like apartheid and the Crusades, given that the majority of Irish people are white and nominally Christian.

But John wasn’t even allowed to bring up what Williams said on the public record and why?

Because “he’s not here to defend himself.”

The same was then said of the local authorities that moved quickly to block the movement of any Travellers onto their land following the Carrickmines fire, in which ten people died.

Then, breathtakingly, Ryan asked John why publicans weren’t in a hurry to serve Travellers alcohol.

So the integrity of neither Williams nor local authorities may be questioned, but Ryan had no problem inferring that Travellers – who, let it be said, also weren’t there to defend themselves – are violent drunks.

Even John’s own experience of racism was questioned, as was his anger towards the system and the society that has not only allowed it to fester, but has in many cases actively encouraged it.

Here’s some of the tweets that were made on the Late Late hashtags during the interview – ranging from openly racist to simple, yet staggeringly ignorant, this is what Ryan believes John has little or no reason to be angry about.

In insinuating that Travellers as an ethnic group are violent drunks or criminals and that they deserve that reputation, Ryan is kowtowing to the racist logic of the sensationalist Williams, but of course, this cannot be discussed.

Because imagine if Williams did what Iona and John Waters and Breda O’Brien did when they were called homophobes by Rory O’Neill on the Saturday Night Show?

What if he sued? How much would it cost? What would that do to Ryan’s career?

Notice nobody asks what would happen if a Traveller sued, as in our society they are granted no standing. Williams can say what he likes – even if it’s racist, or even if it tars Sinn Féin’s voters as terrorists, for instance – but he cannot be called racist for making racist statements on the public record.

This is the legacy of Pantigate, it is what columnist (note: not journalist) Breda O’Brien, journalist and former member of the Broadcasting Authority John Waters and the Iona Institute in general, whose fear of homosexuality is the very definition of homophobia, have left us.

(As both are based on fear, being homophobic or racist are not necessarily bad things in themselves – it is the repression of and the imposition of one’s own values on others, and the denial of the rights of others that is reprehensible.)

Irish voters have in recent times indicated that they are abandoning the vicious, venal, hateful and judgemental attitudes fostered by the church and implemented for generations by politicians as they divided and conquered and created hierarchies that suited themselves.

But as yet the system itself has not changed – The Lads are still in control, and despite the fact that they are a minority, the likes of Iona still call the shots.

Every time they call the lawyers in, journalists jump and eventually they toe the line. When “they” are not there to defend themselves, the lawyers will do it for them, and as a result the questions can’t even be put.

Maybe John and the family of those who died in Carrickmines should call the Iona lawyers and see what can be done about the imposition of collective guilt and responsibility on Travellers, or Muslims, or Africans, or anyone else.

My guess is very little.

Irish media doesn’t tell the truth to power.

Instead, cowed by the fear of legal proceedings, it restricts itself to telling the truth that power wants people to hear.

 

Ryan’s video nasty says more about Late Late than Murphy

A pic of Ryan Tubridy and Paul Murphy taken from the RTE Player.

Let me tell you about The Late Late Show and fairness.

Next week, the show will feature several songs, one of which will be chosen as Ireland’s Eurovision entry.

The backing band and singers for one song are a girl band from Sweden, who asked me if I could find them a gig in Dublin on the Saturday.

I contacted Ryan Tubridy’s show and we agreed that it might be fun to have the girls go on the radio on Friday morning and then have Ryan’s listeners find them a gig for the Saturday night.

Then, yesterday evening, I got an e-mail to say that the idea was being nixed, as it wouldn’t be fair to the other acts appearing on the Late Late to highlight one on the radio show, and not the others.

Then Tubridy interviewed socialist TD Paul Murphy on the Late Late, and all semblance of fairness went out the window.

Tubridy is a terrible, almost comically bad political interviewer.

His only tactics are to provoke his subject and try to channel some semblance of righteous indignation.

But in trying to seem tough and uncompromising, he instead comes across as rude and ignorant.

His questions are aggressive, shallow and transparent, and when the subject answers them capably, he irritatedly talks over them and moves on.

Of course, this Paxman- (very) lite approach is the first thing the media handlers will tell the politicians as they prepare to face him.

Tubridy was entirely right to ask Murphy about his history, his political career, his penchant for protest and his numerous arrests.

And asking him to explain the footage of Murphy with the bullhorn during the “siege of Jobstown” was also journalistically valid, even if it has already been done to death.

But the decision to show the footage of an entirely separate protest, in which Murphy had no hand, act or part, was the most morally bankrupt editorial decision in a long time.

And given that we’re talking about Ireland here, that is some achievement.

The film of Murphy holding the bullhorn is journalistically valid because it gives the context of what happened in Jobstown.

The showing of the film in which president Michael D Higgins was called a “midget parasite,” under the tenuous logic that some of those shouting are known to Murphy, was all about subtext.

Paul Murphy supports water protestors.

Water protestors are violent, foul-mouthed people.

Paul Murphy is a violent, foul-mouthed person.

Deliberate or not, it was a nakedly political act – its message was “protesting is OK, but for the love of GOD don’t offend anyone or inconvenience our betters.”

But the question about the presidential protest had to be asked, you may say – but did it really?

Murphy has condemned the behaviour of those in the video (including those people known to him) on countless occasions.

About half an hour later, the game was up.

The jovial Chris De Burgh was sitting on the couch, singing his songs unprompted and telling everyone how great he was.

But here we had a man who had sex with a teenage girl while his wife lay recovering from a broken neck in one of the greatest scandals in Irish celebrity history, and he wasn’t asked about it.

So the dalliances of the millionaire class pass without criticism, while Murphy has to explain things that have nothing to do with him.

The problem, and it is a problem all over the world, is that journalism is now very much a middle-class profession.

The staggering lack of job security and the pitiful sums paid to journalists for their work mean that only those of independent means can engage in a career.

The result is that newsrooms – and the production offices of shows like the Late Late – have no innate understanding of what life is like for the working class.

Much is made of the influence that Denis O’Brien may or may not have over his newsrooms, but the fact is he doesn’t have to exert any influence at all.

All he has to do is ensure that he hires editors and journalists that share his view of the world, and the rest will take care of itself.

The working class voices are only ever solicited outside the dole offices or courthouses, or on YouTube clips when they finally get it into their heads to protest.

The result is that those who work with working class people and try to improve their lot, like Paul Murphy, are mistrusted and insulted in the media.

Holy Catholic Ireland, as it once was, has never been exposed to socialism or social democracy – the soon-to-be-defunct Labour Party is to the right of Thatcher on many issues.

So it would have been interesting to see what Murphy had to say about his own politics, his atheism (if he is an atheist), about education and health and the EU.

But no. Instead, we are treated to standard reactionary journalism that ensures that the Irish working class will always pay the piper, but it will never be allowed to call the tune.

We need to end our celebrity obsession before it’s too Late Late

Ireland's most sensitive man in Ireland's toughest job.

I have a confession to make.

I like Ryan Turbidy. I like him a lot.

He is a skilled broadcaster – sensitive, sympathetic, yet utterly unsuited to the Late Late Show.

The world’s longest-running talk show is in danger of running out of steam.

The Late Late is part of the Irish living room – which, as we all know, can be a loud, rowdy, contrary place.

This doesn’t happen on the Late Late Show. Not any more.

Ryan is too nice. Even when asking a hard question, his face bears an expression that says “this hurts me more than it hurts you”.

It’s an expression Gay Byrne never wore.

Part of the problem is, of course, the guests.

It’s hard to ask hard questions of people who have never done or said or stood for anything of substance.

Last night we had a girl from Galway who got a bit of stick on Twitter, some people dancing for Tescos, and three inane empty-headed hacks speculating about what the murderers of women may or may not have been thinking or doing at some point.

Niall Quinn was his usual sympathetic self, but for a man described as “Mother Teresa”, there are no hard questions to ask.

The interview with comedian Anne Gildea – currently being treated for breast cancer – was gripping television, but Turbidy interrupted uncomfortable silences at critical times.

Just as Gildea had composed herself to answer, Turbidy would interject to lighten the situation. That is not what was needed.

As a standup, Anne Gildea is in probably the toughest profession in showbusiness – she is more than capable of dealing with Tubs, his audience, and indeed cancer, and the best of luck to her in her recovery.

But ultimately the nub of the Late Late Show’s problem is our obsession with celebrities from A-list to Z-list.

The producers obviously have some reason for trotting out these nobodies – that reason is because we watch the likes of “Desperate Scousewives”, and some of us even take them seriously.

That’s not what I learned about making television. When I studied communications, the first question we were taught to ask when producing TV is “what story are we trying to tell?” Then you decide how to go about doing it, and indeed who should do it.

The reality TV celebrity trap is that their only story is themselves, and in 101 cases out of 100 it’s not that interesting.

What pains me – and I’ve made this known to the Late Late producers on Twitter – is that there are so many brilliant, fascinating, uplifting and tragic stories out there among the plain people of Ireland.

There are musicians and magicians and comedians struggling for a break that could do with the exposure far more than some C-lister whose ambition- despite the Twitter abuse- is to go on Big Brother.

There are businesses and volunteers and carers who go to outstanding lengths for their communities. We see them, fleetingly, on the Late Late, before the next washed-up, wrinkled has-been is trotted out.

The producers might do well to remember that what is often their biggest audience of the year is for the Toy Show, when there is nary a celebrity in sight- instead, the show is given over to children, in all their original, chaotic, comedic glory.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Ryan is the right man to do this job.

But I’d rather he turn his sympathetic ear to the stories of ordinary people than whatever talentless gobshite happens to be hawked around Montrose by some PR person during the week.

The not-so-great Late Late debate

The not-so-magnificent seven on the Late Late Show.

First things first.

What occurred on the Late Late on Friday wasn’t a presidential debate – at least not in the accepted sense.

Despite showing a nice line in creative questioning (“why did you leave the IRA in 1974?”), host Ryan Turbidy acted like a conduit for the seven spirits in front of him, channelling their answers through his autocue Ouija board instead of letting them interact properly.

Ultimately, as it often is with the Late Late these days, it was ambitious but unsatisfying.

There were several reasons for that, three of which are Mike Murphy and Jedward.

There was absolutely no point in having them on the show but the Late Late is something of a curate’s egg, and sometimes things which don’t make sense to the lineup slip – or are forced – through the gap.

In the usual Late-Late-As-Pravda mode, the live Mike has a new show starting and so he MUST appear on the Late Late this week, despite his obvious reluctance.

As for Jedward, I like them but for once their appearance wasn’t the main event.

The producers would have been wise to save them for when they were faced with a weaker lineup of guests- judging by the first few weeks of the season, it’s not like the show lacks such opportunities.

Time to cast a cold eye over the candidates.

It seemed pretty clear that Michael D, the Gandalf of the Labour party, was the only one who actually had any idea what the role of president of Ireland entails. He shrewdly quoted relevant legislation and practice, and dealt well with questions about his age.

David Norris is starting to irritate people. His attempts to whip up frenzied support in the studio came across as pompous foghorning, and the senator would do well to remember that many people would like to see him in the Aras despite themselves. Another couple of performances like that could well lead them straight to the door of Michael D.

Gay Mitchell displayed a look similar to many of those he claims to have supported – those on death row. Fine Gael’s nomination of him seems to have been a death sentence for his political career, and a streak of self-pity is becoming apparent in this previously tenacious electioneer.

Dana is a religious version of Jim Corr, and if she’s elected president we should bring the shutters down on our  Republican experiment and run headlong back into the none-too-welcoming arms of the British. The woman is an embarrassment.

One who mightn’t be happy with that idea is fellow northerner Martin McGuinness, who, like Norris, couldn’t resist the urge to grandstand and fell flat on his face as a result. Employing six young people off the dole with his wages sounds all well and good, but not one bit presidential.

Mary Davis doesn’t like questions about where her money came from, or her political connections. Her bristling at these questions would suggest that this “Independent” candidate is not so independent after all.

Of all the candidates, the most vibrant and energetic was probably Seán Gallagher, but Gallagher’s problem is one shared by many of the other candidates; he is fighting the wrong election.

His rhetoric about Ireland and creating jobs and pride is spot on, but it is for a general, rather than a presidential, election. The same goes for Dana’s anti-European Jesus-freakery.

The more I hear about issues like fairness, respect, tolerance, jobs, mental health and suicide, the more I think that these people should be on the doorsteps of the working-class estates of this country in a general election, not robbing Mike Murphy’s shot at the big time on a Friday night.

Gallagher would make a great Minister for Enterprise, Mary Davis for Equality, Gay Mitchell for Law Reform. Martin McGuinness would make an interesting president, but his work is not yet done in the north, and there are still too many who remember the less-than-savoury antics of the IRA under his command for him to be truly electable in the south, not least among the media.

Dana would make a great Minister for State, as long as her office is a padded room in a secure building with the sharp objects and her shoelaces removed.

That leaves Norris and Higgins – this race is theirs to lose, and it is highly likely that Norris will lose it.

People really want to vote for  him, but his hollow insistence that he cannot release the letters is about as convincing as McGuinness’s resignation from the IRA in 1974.

It’s very possible that time has already run out for Norris, but he must address the issue once and for all with a very public mea culpa.

To release the letters in full would of course be tantamount to electoral suicide; instead, he must throw himself at the mercy of the electorate in all his flawed humanity.

Tell people that he doesn’t want to release them, even if he were legally allowed to do so.

Tell people that the letters make him look callous toward’s his lover’s victim (and regardless of the consent issue, he is a victim- that’s why the crime of statutory rape exists).

Tell people that the letters make him look petty and small and pompous and overblown, and that they really do portray him in a very un-presidential light.

Because as the Late Late non-debate showed, having seven candidates is unwieldy for the media, and they will be more than happy to make them into single issue candidates.

Mitchell the ultimate compromise candidate, Davis the quango queen, McGuinness the Ra man, Gallagher the Entrepreneur, Dana the Jesus-loving crackpot, Norris the paedo defender and Higgins…

… the most presidential so far.