COMMENT: Media Bias Skewed the General Election
The recent general election exposed many truths: Many are unsatisfied with current policies and want change. But something which received less clout in the weeks leading up to February 8th was the evident partisanship of one of the country’s most popular media organisations.
The Irish Independent received significant backlash across social media for what many people identified as a right-wing bias in the run-up to the election. An opinion piece written by journalist Eilis O’Hanlon, titled ‘So why didn’t younger voters care about Sinn Fein crimes?’ sparked much controversy across Twitter. Some referred to the article as ‘just pathetic’, whilst others labelled the Irish Independent itself as part of the ‘Tory Press’. O’Hanlon’s words appeared cynical towards young voters who she claims, ‘seemed to think they were terribly radical and bold voting for Sinn Fein at this election.’
Of course, O’Hanlon’s job in the Irish Independent is to write opinion pieces and she is entitled to hold and express such views. The real issue is the claim from many people of a bias towards certain political parties from the Irish Independent. The paper itself was accused of not giving fair coverage to all major political parties. One recent example of such bias was a decision by the paper not to publish a poll by Red C Research showing voter preferences for a prospective coalition, which showed the top result as Sinn Fein leading a coalition with smaller parties.
Another source of controversy comes from the people at the top of Independent News and Media. Henry Minogue, for example, is the CIO of Independent News and Media. Minogue ran as a Fine Gael candidate for Castleknock in the 2014 local elections. He is also known to be a good friend of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who appointed him to the board of Bus Eireann in 2011 and was accused of political ‘cronyism’.
The real misfortune resulting from this bias is that we, as a nation, lose one of our main newspapers as a source of objective political information. If a platform exercises political partisanship, then readers are left with uninformed opinions. The media are the eyes and ears of the public – our senses will soon become impaired should one of the country’s main newsrooms engage in biased practices.
Blathnaid Corless – Politics Writer