As I write this post, it’s evening time. Just after eight o’clock. Today has yet been another strange day in the sphere that is Irish politics. They used to say that “A week in politics is a long time”. That was before the digital era of social media really kicked in. Now a day is a long time. For example…
This morning the citizens of Ireland woke to Irish Independent newspaper headlines, frontpage shouting “Sinn Fein document instructed party members to poll as pollsters“. This type of article especially coming from the Indo’ is nothing new to many – as same many (and more) often see attack pieces put out against anyone that dare oppose FF/FG – who many in the paper big time favours.
Immediately, the usual lot of FF/FG heads (members and fans) quickly moved ‘in for the kill’ on social media with immediate glee filled attacks. Some were polite criticism but the vast majority were all hate and fire against Sinn Fein. Radio morning shows jumped in, from RTE to Newstalk. Presenters galore took delight at being given this opportunity to have a go at Sinn Fein. “Yee ha! lets rip into them…“
RTE up (or is it down?) to its usual reporting standards were one example.
Their antics weren’t able to last longer than a few hours. By two o’clock many has taken both to Facebook and to Twitter, giving testimony that in fact Fianna Fail and Fine Gael were (a) guilty of doing the exact same thing (b) doing it much longer and (c) doing it more underhandly and paying people at the same time to do it.
It even then further emerged that the reporter of the Irish Independent, in attempt to have a go at Sinn Fein, had to go back as far as 2015 for the news piece that oddly appear to make out is if it was something Sinn Fein might have been up to today. Far from it in truth! The reporter tried to use a seven year old, out of date and use, document in order to get his latest attack piece out.
As the day progressed, as more and more people said on social media that they were hired or volunteered to do the same for FF, FG and even for the Labour party, the evidence piling up, journalists that had been morning singing the praises of the Indo’ reporter, went quickly more quiet.
It didn’t help FF or FG that their own members raced to microphones to criticise an opposition party when in fact, known or unknown to them, their own party stood guilty of doing the exact same thing.
As more tales of FF and FG emerged in particular doing what the morning article writer charged SF with, FG had no choice but to eventually reluctantly admit that they had in fact done the same as SF, also in the past. FF members were keeping their heads down. Their silence was and still is, obvious deafening.
Why The FG Admission?
Many wondered why Leo Varadkar came out and (reluctantly) later admitted that his party had done the same! Truth lay in the fact that with hours, the evidence of their own antics was overwhelming and out there across social media. There could be no hiding away from it.
In PR terms – and Leo being well practised in how to do PR – it was probably thought that FG better get ahead of the emerging double-standards of their own giving out about SF – while FG was in fact, even more so, long guilty of doing the same. FG had to head off more of their own giving out about SF – only to be then embarrassingly caught in their own party double-standards! FG/Leo decided to try and control the narrative? If there was going to be stuff coming out about them (and it was big time), the least they could do, was try and control it’s direction?
What started out in the morning as yet another daily attack piece by the Irish Independent and yet another one of it’s reporters joining in the daily bashing of political opposition to the government, spectacularly backfired against the very people and parties the newspaper was trying to do favours for?
Not that this was the first time an own goal had been created by attacking journalists!
Previously, a similar attack piece tried to have a go at SF over supposed data issues. Here too, at the time, the usual round of FF/FG heads decided to weigh in and have their say about how terrible SF was for supposedly doing something. Only, it later emerged then too that what SF had been accused of doing, hadn’t been in fuller fact, illegal at all! Opps!!!
Not only did FF/FG heads go then quickly quiet within 24 hours but it also emerged that members of their own government here too was guilty of doing what they were giving out about SF for! Sound familiar? Yes, a previous reporter had also opened a separate Pandora Box that FF/FG would have rather wanted to keep remain closed.
Not one but two Pandora boxes have been opened by reporters trying to do FF/FG a favour, within the space of just two months. Normally, this would be average day news but with the Dublin Bay South by-election looming, such exposed antics of their own, dosed with their further exposed double-standards on top, doesn’t sit well with the government parties as they try to win voters confidence and trust.
Leo Varadkar, already Sunday newspaper accused of dithering over announcing the by-election date, might now try to put it off a little longer in hope that the latest back-fire against them – with further attached bad publicity – might die down a touch more before voters eventually head to a voting box in Dublin! Meanwhile, FF and the Greens are saying very little. They know now to keep their heads down.
The Social Media Affect.
Where years ago such double-standards might not have been uncovered and further evidence of it easier shared, today with the use of the internet and social media platforms, in just minutes exposures can not only happen but their details spread like wildfire. FF/FG/Labour and yes, even RTE, at times found this to be useful if they could get the dirt on others but they have to now reluctantly admit that the same quick exposure process can also catch them out too.
They live in part fear of the next article that might attack their foes – for they know that in reality, they too could be guilty of same and poor reporter research or worse, a biased reporter, might not share the full facts of something. FF/FG/etc know that should that happen, users of social media will happily, quickly fill a void of little information – or as we see now, inaccurate information supplied by media outlets.
Thanks to the internet and social media, a day now in politics moves fast, never mind a week!