I wish TV channels would stop patting themselves on the back

I wish TV channels would stop patting themselves on the back The announcement from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar about the sacraments took many people by surprise.

I’m thoroughly cheesed off with media outlets telling us how great they are. Unfortunately, it’s more often the spin than the reality.

So, for example, RTÉ is telling us constantly, with very slick video ads, how great they are with news, trust, integrity and journalism. And yet, in current affairs coverage, I think they are often guilty of bias, a selectivity driven by ideology, especially in relation to controversial social issues. I’m also finding it tiresome for some GB News presenters to be telling us how great they are at tackling “woke culture” (is that a contradiction in terms?). ‘Other channels tell you what to think but we…etc.,’ Stop with the self-congratulation and just do the job, professionally!


I wrote of my mixed feelings about GB News a few weeks ago and now that I’m dipping in only occasionally I find the level of interest depends almost entirely on the quality or otherwise of the special guests. Last week Tonight Live with Dan Wooten featured US journalist Bari Weiss. She had left a job at The New York Times (NYT) because of what she found to be the stifling woke atmosphere. She found that newspaper had gone from being the paper of record with “all the news that’s fit to print” to one that was open only to “all the news that fits the narrative”. I could relate to her notion of ‘institutional capture’. For example, she described how, effectively, Twitter had now become the “ultimate editor” of the NYT. Young journalists felt afraid of being ‘cancelled’ if they covered stories that that didn’t fit the favoured narrative – they’d be thinking “Do I really want to die on that hill”? She described (lamenting I think) how we live in two “epistemological realities”, two polarised bubbles.

At the very least, she maintained, there should be agreement on the basic facts of an issue – e.g. with the Wuhan lab leak story, where early efforts to get at the truth were tagged as ‘misinformation’ on social media. She regarded the Chinese communist government as the greatest threat to human freedom – their treatment of Hong Kong was indicative of their expansionist interests, with a move from a free society to a fear society.

We’ve become quite a fear society here too thanks largely to the pandemic. With last week’s delay in easing restrictions the casualties included Baptism, Communion and Confirmation ceremonies – presumably because of the fear of after parties rather than anything inherently dangerous about the ceremonies themselves. On Morning Ireland (RTÉ One Wednesday) Fr Michael Toomey of Waterford and Lismore Diocese was minded to go ahead with planned ceremonies, subject to guidance from his bishop. He described the Tánaiste’s remarks re sacraments (“They’re off”) as “off the cuff”, said that this was first time Baptism was ever mentioned in terms of restrictions, that the ceremonies were easier to manage safely than the Sunday Masses and that all possible was being done to encourage safe gathering after the ceremonies. He wondered if this was law, and couldn’t find clarification on the Government website (it came later). He was also on the Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk, Wednesday) when Mr Kenny went all biblical encapsulating Fr Toomey’s views with an appropriate adaptation – let God look after God’s business, let Caesar take care of the parties!

Tonight Show

On the Tonight Show (Virgin Media One, Wednesday) Michael Healy Rae TD was puzzled by how 50 people were allowed at Mass, but not at First Communions or Confirmations. Archbishop Eamon Martin, interviewed on The News at One (RTÉ Radio One, Thursday), said the way last week’s message about restrictions was announced was “grossly disrespectful” and “almost cavalier”. He said churches had been led to believe by Government that they could resume, had done so much to get ready, to be safe, to encourage parents against large after parties, and the ceremonies were proceeding safely in the North of Ireland.

On Today With Claire Byrne (RTÉ Radio One, Friday) Peadar Tóibín pointed out that religious practice was a fundamental human right and criticised the Tánaiste for not engaging prior to the announcement. Josepha Madigan,  Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion said, with notable lack of both clarity and logic, “he didn’t, no, that’s not correct…there will be engagement”. More logically she said that the situation can change rapidly, and less relevantly she reminded us that she goes to Mass and reads at Mass.


Pick of the Week
Left to Tell
EWTN Saturday July 10, 8 am

A survivor of the Rwandan genocide, Immaculee explains how she was able to forgive the people who murdered her family.

Sunday Sequence
BBC Radio Ulster Sunday July 11, 9 am

Topical religious and ethical issues, often with a northern flavour.

Sacred Music: The Story of Allegri’s Miserere
BBC Four Sunday July 11, 7 pm

Simon Russell Beale tells the story behind Allegri’s Miserere, one of the most popular pieces of sacred music ever written.