Strict balance and the ability to act fairly as devils advocate are the hallmarks of a good broadcaster. Professional broadcasters must also be very careful to keep their own personal views and prejudices out of any discussion.
Few could seriously argue that Joe Duffy doesn’t live up to these laudable standards. But even the most professional of broadcasters can, at times, stray from the straight and narrow.
On last Friday’s show, during discussion about Ahern’s latest fantasies at the tribunal Joe strongly defended Bertie – The ‘loan’ to Celia was not Fianna Fail money per se, it’s in the name of trustees; Bertie works extraordinarily hard, seven days a week morning to night, he can’t remember everything.
Joe was very critical of the overall cost of the tribunal, the length of time it was taking and the fees paid to barristers and even brought up judge Mahon’s tax settlement with Revenue. Generally, he allowed pro Bertie callers to speak without interruption but frequently challenged anti Bertie callers.
At one point towards the end of the programme an anti Bertie caller named Mairead struggled to make her points in the face of an onslaught by Joe, a pro Bertie caller named Mary and Fianna Fail fanatic Jimmy Guerin.
It’s rare to witness someone as professional as Joe Duffy allow his own views to become part of a discussion but it is interesting to note that he is a Bertie man and strongly disapproves of the Mahon Tribunal.