herald

Sunday 16 December 2018

RTE stays quiet on missing Charlie

FORGET the Finance Bill or the General Election, the big question is why won't RTE bring Charlie Bird in from the cold?

The station's chief news correspondent is nowhere to be seen on nightly news bulletins.

And as anyone with any interest in news or politics will tell you, an election is the busiest period for any media outlet.

But our national broadcaster is keeping schtum on the whereabouts of Mr Bird, and a host of other missing journalists.

With just weeks left before polling day, RTE has refused to reveal which of the station's best political minds will be on board at this stage.

Representatives for RTE could not confirm if George Lee would be free from his 'political quarantine' after he resigned from his seat in the Dail.

The former economics editor ran under the Fine Gael banner in the Dublin South by-election last June, before he humiliated the party by walking out.

Earlier RTE said that they took into consideration how involved Lee was in politics when assigning his portfolio on his return, but there was no timeframe on when he could return to cover the subject.

From September, the journalist has fronted The Business on RTE radio 1 on a Saturday morning.

But most intriguing is the treatment of Charlie Bird and the reasons why he is not doing news at the moment.

A spokeswoman for RTE refused to say when Charlie Bird would be making a return to the news coverage team.

"We don't have the information to hand, but will issue a press release (in time)," she said.

The stalwart journalist quit his post in the USA after admitting that he felt lonely and isolated since he became RTE's Washington correspondent.

Bird struggled with the logistics and the particular political workings in a country the size of America.

Critics panned his coverage of some of the biggest stories in the US that occurred on his watch, including the death of Michael Jackson in Los Angeles.

Most viewers recall a particular story from his first year in the US about food queues in New York, when Bird hugged a destitute woman on camera.

The correspondent, who had a way with words with the majority of politicians based here, found doors slammed in his face in America.

A spokeswoman for RTE said that they would issue a press release for the stations planned election coverage over the next few days.

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