THE PR nightmare of Ryan Tubridy's Late Late Show interview with Ronan Keating took another twist today.
RTE was forced to deny embarrassing claims by the singer that he was let off the hook by Tubridy because they are friends.
Keating's claim, which suggests a lack of objectivity on RTE's flagship show, was swiftly played down by the station.
In what now resembles schoolyard politics, one side is saying he is friends with the other, while the other's pals are denying it.
RTE maintains that the pair are not pals and did not have a pre-show agreement that Tubridy would not quiz Keating on his recent marriage problems which were caused by his affair with a backing dancer.
Keating added to the storm yesterday, saying that the two discussed the content of the interview beforehand, and thanking Tubridy for being such a good "friend" and going easy on him.
But RTE later released a statement, saying: "It's Late Late Show policy for Ryan to meet with all his guests prior to the show on Friday nights.
"Suggestions that Ronan and Ryan came to an agreement over content of the interview because they are friends are totally inaccurate.
"Ryan only knows Ronan in his professional capacity as a TV presenter," it added.
RTE's response was to Keating's statements asserting that he and Tubridy did in fact agree on the content of the interview beforehand, and even thanked him for being "good" to him.
Montrose bosses explained that there were no limitations put in place by Keating, only adding fuel to the growing criticism of Tubridy's suitability for the job.
As detailed in yesterday's Herald, the singer said that Tubridy agreed not to ask any personal questions about the state of his marriage.
"Ryan and I are friends and he was good to me on Friday," he said. "We spoke before the interview on how it was going to go.
"That's my private life, and regardless of how many questions someone's going to ask, I'm not going to answer.
"They'll say whatever they want to say, I'll keep my private life private as I always have. Thank you to Ryan, fair play. I hope he doesn't get too hard a time," he told Ian Dempsey on Today FM.
And Tubridy has continued to defend his lacklustre grilling, saying that the pint-sized performer didn't deserve one.
"Ronan Keating's a pop star and he appears to have had some indiscretion -- you've read about it, you know about it, I asked him about it, and he answered," he told listeners of his 2fm show.