Tide going out for the handlers July 9, 2012Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Uncategorized.
In contrast to the sustained and largely contrived focus on the opposition since the referendum there is still a sense that all is not well between Enda’s team and some sections of the press. Despite some of the breathless stuff in wake of the ‘seismic shift’ there appears to be growing resentment at the Taoiseach’s reluctance to play ball. While there was an obvious vested interest in pressing him to debate during the campaign the real trouble lies in the increasing obstacles to reporters doing their day to day job as they see it. The common thread running through it all?
The situation is getting worse.
This week Ursula Halligan lead the barbarians over the plant pot. Every journalist present has contradicted the minder’s claim at this stage with some suggesting the ‘assault’ came in the other direction. Lord visited the incident two days running while the Sindo even took a Quantum Poll…
TV3 management are to file a counter complaint. All this with the party’s director of media having come from the station. Producer of Halligan’s old program no less. What is interesting from this weekends reports though is we are seeing Kennelly and Purcell named rather then the usual job title, if even, given and left at that. Something that was rare enough in the past I wonder if we will see more.
Take the Government’s sustainability policy launch on the 6th . The invited hacks were kept in one of the two glass boxes at the gates of Government Buildings while Enda, Eamon and Phil – who appeared twenty minutes late – posed for a photo at the door some twenty five metres away. Anyone walking the dog down Merrion street had as good a view and as much chance of asking questions. When they returned to their desks the Taoiseach’s comments were waiting in the inboxes leading many to wonder as he didn’t make any.
The following day saw Miriam Lord ask if an Taoiseach is “the dumb blonde of the 31st Dáil” in a sketch where his – hardly unusual – performance at leader’s questions was contrasted with the equally evasive treatment of polcorrs the evening before. Shaun Connolly in the Examiner skipped the comparisons altogether with piece on “the Government’s Masters of bad publicity.”
Someone who actually understands communications really needs to have a serious chat with Enda’s publicity team as the Taoiseach’s appearances are becoming increasingly slapdash, if not bordering on the absurd.
Handlers scrambled for excuses at Government Buildings, insisting the invite had said snappers only, but that was the follow-up one hastily rushed out just before the event — and why does Enda feel the need to evade questioning anyway? What is he hiding?
The view through the window in the Glass Box depicted a very ugly reflection of an increasingly out of touch and arrogant Government.
Some noted this comments without comments has become regular thing, others mentioned scolding from the Press Office for pointing this out. Enda may take one question before being rushed off. Other times none at all after the promise of some. Strange now but once I started keeping an eye out for it you will see one mention of ‘no questions’ most weeks. An ‘escape’ by Enda others.
This is the type of thing which leads Olivia O’Leary opine to Drivetime’s 239,000 listeners that Enda Kenny “never tells us what is going on in his head, which always leads to the suspicion that maybe nothing is” and follow a week later with a column on this month’s Labour parliamentary party meeting, marked by the absence of handlers.
Add to this Pat Rabbitte’s recent comments on the standard of political coverage some must have been in awe at Stephen Collins’ luck securing a interview with the Taoiseach last weekend.
Hostility towards those who surround the Taoiseach and Tánaiste within their own parties is already well documented. Letting it grow outside is a dangerous game, not least for Government who enjoyed such a prolonged honeymoon – which existed only in print.