The Ryan Tubridy scandal: a masterclass in distraction

On 22 June, RTE announced that it had overpaid Ryan Tubridy of the “Late Late Show” by a figure of €345,000. This was done through secretive deals and barter accounts, and resulted in Tubridy earning more than €500,000 each year.

The following weeks saw wall-to-wall coverage of the scandal in the media, peaking on 11 July, the day that Ryan Tubridy appeared before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee. The Government and media had their narratives ready: Tubridy and the higher leadership of RTE acted in secret. It became a prime opportunity for the taoiseach to appear strong by punishing them and possibly do an administrative change on RTE to pretend he’s doing something.

It would seem a slow time for news if we have to hear about Ryan Tubridy constantly, over a relatively small sum of money. I will argue that this wasn’t true, and would like to cover a few things that happened about the same time that you might have missed, concentrating on the main dates of 22 June and 11 July.

On 19 June, President Michael D. Higgins shared in an interview with the Business Post his view that the Government is playing with fire by trying to meddle with Irish neutrality, and that the country is drifting dangerously close to NATO. On 22 June protesters from the Connolly Youth Movement disrupted the Government’s sham “consultation on international security,” which was stacked with pro-NATO voices.

On 11 July the Department of Housing delivered its second-quarter report. This showed that the Government again missed their targets for the provision of social homes, affordable-purchase homes, and cost-rental homes. The awkward timing of this report, in the middle of the RTE hype, was only reported on by Ireland’s most serious news medium, Waterford Whispers News.

On 12 July the Oireachtas health committee was told that the cost of building the new National Children’s Hospital will probably rise to €2.2 billion. The Dutch contractor Royal BAM Group has claimed another €756 million, citing delays. Including money already spent and other costs, this would bring the total cost of the hospital to more than €3.6 billion.

On 13 July the Environmental Protection Agency issued its annual report. This shows that, while greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 1.9 per cent in 2022 compared with 2021, this reduction is well short of target. A reduction of 12.4 per cent per year will be required until 2025; and Ireland is very likely to miss the targeted 51 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

The capitalist ruling class uses the media circus as a way to distract the masses from painful news that shows their failings in such areas as peace, housing, health care, and the climate. This is not surprising, as large media publications are owned by the capitalist class, or indeed the state itself.

Additionally, it became more important for modern media to report on what gets clicks, views, and advertising revenue, instead of what the public needs to know. It remains vitally important to read independent and working-class publications to cut through the distractions.