At peak yesterday the main Politics.ie thread on the Taoiseach's Morning Ireland interview and aftermath was clocking ten thousand views per hour.
As the story spread and anger grew at the latest instance of us being dissed by the man we pay to lead the country, there were revealing reactions from some quarters. Sarah Carey picks up on the reaction of Noel Whelan, a barrister and commentator regularly heard on RTE and columnist in the Irish Times.
Noel Whelan’s arguments on Today with Pat Kenny on Radio 1 yesterday dug the hole deeper.
He’d moved on from blaming Coveney and Twitter to blaming RTÉ. Apparently the real crime was not that Coveney would dare to tweet what everyone else was thinking, but that RTÉ would let us know. Whelan was unusually shrill and genuinely furious that Pat Kenny had broadcast the accusation. He argued it was the responsibility of the mainstream media to check its facts rather than channelling unconfirmed rubbish from the interweb.
When Kenny said they had formally asked the Fianna Fáil press office whether the Taoiseach was “unwell” but received no response, Whelan said they should have waited for one. Hello Pravda.
Whelan’s rage against the establishment media revealed that he sees the media, not as a channel to get information to the public, but as gatekeepers who should keep information from the public. Normally the media are pretty reliable at keeping politicians’ social secrets, since most of the time, they are keeping the politicians company too.
Inebriation is one of those states which journalists actively collude with politicians in covering up.
Social media totally undermine the game because they make it harder to control stories that the golden media circle deems unfit for general public consumption.
Blame lies squarely with the Taoiseach - The Irish Times - Thu, Sep 16, 2010
Of course as Carey's account of the interview with Whelan by Pat Kenny itself shows, the mainstream media (MSM in the jargon) played its part in covering the story but as Miriam Lord said yesterday this was at least in part because of the way it had taken off here and on other places like twitter. It is not a case of MSM bad, social media good, but the symbiosis can yield novel effects.
Gotta keep up with the changing times.