This video, exposing MEPs as they sign on for expenses they are not entitled to, is an excellent example of hard hitting, professional journalism in action.
The German reporters ambushed the MEPs as they arrived to sign on for their expenses. Some of the MEPs legged it in embarrassment as soon as they spotted the reporters. The reporters were not shy about challenging these politicians. “It’s seven o’clock in the morning, what are you doing here with your suitcase?”
German Green Party MEP Hiltrud Breyer ran for the lift in a panic but the reporters kept the lift door open and strongly challenged her behaviour.
“Why are you running away, are you ashamed that you wanted to sign the list? Please come out of the lift, what is your problem?”
“Why is it impertinence? Why are you in such a hurry to get away, why won’t you speak with us, you are a member of the European Parliament.”
“Leave me alone,” she pleaded.
It has been many long years since we witnessed such robust journalism in Ireland. RTE, in particular, has gone soft as a marshmallow when it comes to asking the hard questions. Indeed, the dangerous friendship that has developed between Irish journalists and the body politic has seen some members of the press getting angry when their favourite politician is attacked.
Irish Times journalist, Michael O’Regan, got very angry recently when Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar attacked Bertie Ahern’s fantasy tales at the Mahon Tribunal.
“I thought that was utterly unfair, I thought the language he used was unfortunate to be quite honest with you and I thought he’d want to get his act together. He’s in the door, he’s wet behind the ears, and he’d want to think before he speaks.”
O’Regan has never displayed such passionate disapproval when reporting on the endless stream of corruption that infects Irish politics and business.
Ignorance and naivety are also common in Irish journalism. Irish Daily Star journalist Catherine Halloran recently (10th July) gave us the ‘benefit’ of her thoughts on Bertie Ahern’s fantasy tales.
“If Ahern had come out at the start and come clean, given the full story and not veered away from that story maybe his legacy would be completely different, maybe he would still be in office.”