Thursday 22 March 2018

Clampdown on opinion turns Coleman green

'Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry," David Banner would say, before going on a righteous rampage as The Incredible Hulk. Marc Coleman is a similarly green-tinted anger machine. His catchphrase could be "I feel another rant coming on." He said this on Tuesday during a chat about job creation.

Earlier, Coleman revealed that ranters like himself could be an endangered species if newly proposed Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) codes were adopted. These would force current affairs broadcasters to announce conflicts of interest (Coleman agrees with this aspect) but might also restrict them expressing strong opinions.

"If they're not funding the private sector I don't see that the State should be restricting the rights of presenters to express their opinion," he said, reasonably.

Then he quoted an article referencing "dinosaurs of the Reagan era" in order to argue how actually "for decades the Irish media has been dominated by dinosaurs of the left". This is probably the exact type of editorialising the BAI want to stamp out.


While David Banner's trigger for transformation is proximity to radiation, Coleman Hulks-out at the first hint of RTE liberalism and was soon mid-polemic on the subject.

"Irish media was for a long time a very cold place for anyone who didn't conform to the politically correct view of the world," said Coleman, an un-PC voice with only a bi-weekly radio programme and a column in the country's biggest newspaper in which to express his marginalised opinions.

The NUJ's Seamus Dooley responded by saying that the BAI had a point about conflicts of interest. He criticised George Hook's pre-election Fine Gael cheerleading and questioned Anton Savage's dual role as presenter and communications consultant (Coleman didn't like Dooley mentioning specific cases).

He also wearily observed that when it came to RTE's alleged left-wing agenda, "I don't think that you ever produced evidence to back that up other than your own prejudices."

Dooley hadn't reckoned on 'Red' Colm Hayes, who earlier that day discussed a controversial Che Guevara statue proposed for Galway. While acknowledging problems with Guevara's record (all the violence) the item also induced rose-tinted nostalgia in Hayes.

"It was great to have his T-shirt and then sometimes you'd walk around with the Little Red Book as well," he said. You could almost smell the joss-sticks.

A caller explained the origins of Jim Fitzpatrick's famous Che Guevara picture (a chance meeting between the pair in Kilkee), another publicised a Che Guevara music festival, while a third took a contrary view. "I think he's a glorified terrorist," she said, before putting Padraig Pearse and Michael Collins in the same category.

Over the course of the item, Hayes breezily alternated criticism of communist Cuba with surprising empathy for guerrilla warriors. "If you're a freedom fighter... up against a whole army, there's going to be certain things you have to do," he said, no doubt adopting a 1,000 yard stare and recalling unacceptable queues in the RTE canteen. "There's no rules of engagement ... It's kill or be killed."


Despite this, I don't think RTE is a hotbed of leftism. Indeed, I suspect in an ideology war between Coleman and Hayes, Coleman would soon be wearing Hayes's easy-going head as a hat. But I hope that the BAI continues to let Coleman roam the airwaves unhindered. I don't want to see him wander off into the distance, bag slung over his shoulder like David Banner in The Incredible Hulk's closing-credits.

This is pretty much how we last saw Sean Gallagher. On Wednesday the BAI upheld a complaint against RTE for airing the unverified tweet that cost Gallagher a debate and arguably an election.

"I think no one can know that [it affected the election] and I think it's wrong to speculate on it," apologising RTE boss Noel Curran told Matt Cooper on The Last Word. I can see why he'd say that. The alternative is that RTE's shoddy social media policy changed history.

When not shattering presidential dreams, RTE can be uplifting. On The Curious Ear, Ballymun-born Colm Keegan recalled strolling along a tower-block ledge as a child in Batman pyjamas.

"All urban bleakness aside," he said. "It was still amazing to have a house up in the sky."

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