Let’s cut through all the waffle surrounding the removal of John Crown from last Friday’s Late Late Show. (All emphasis mine)
It was censorship, at least by proxy.
The censorship originated from a Government source and was successful because, generally speaking, RTE does not have the courage to stand up to politicians.
State censorship of free speech is a serious threat to democracy so all those connected to this event will strongly deny any involvement, blame somebody else or put themselves in a neutral position.
“The decision was made at a higher level than the team of the Late Late Show production.”
So, Pat can say: Nothing to do with me.
Bertie Ahern said; “No phone calls were made to my knowledge”
So, Ahern can say: Nothing to do with me.
Mary Harney said she personally had no knowledge that Prof. Crown was to appear on the programme.
So, Harney can say: Nothing to do with me.
The Director General (Sub. Req’d) of RTE has emphatically denied that the panel change was made after a phone call to him by Ms Harney.
So, the DG can say: Nothing to do with me.
The Managing Director of RTÉ Television, Noel Curran said there was absolutely no political interference in the decision to change the panel of guests.
Mr. Curran said he made the decision to change the panel to achieve a more balanced range of views and said no-one had contacted him prior to his action.
So, we know who made the decision and most importantly, we know he made the decision on his own without contact with anyone.
Finally, the most unaccountable, the most important and certainly the most useful player in the whole episode – An anonymous Government spokesman – This is what he said;
He did tell the programme team that he was of the view that the proposed panel was unbalanced
(An anonymous, unaccountable civil servant can phone the national broadcaster and express his, apparently, personal views about who should or should not partake in a crucial television debate – and he’s taken seriously?).
He did not request that Prof. Crown be removed. (Why would he need to be so crude, the contact was the message not what was said)
So, while the anonymous and unaccountable Government spokesman, operating at a safe distance from Harney and Ahern, was telling the show’s production team that he thought the panel was unbalanced, the Director General of RTE was, coincidently and without contact with anybody, coming to the exact same conclusion.
Oh, by the way, politicians will be deciding today whether to approve an RTE application for a €2 licence fee increase.