27 May 2008

I was very interested in that piece in the Indo on Sunday where that man sought info from RTE under FOI about how much the coverage of Super Tuesday had cost (the taxpayer). Apparently he was first told the bill was something like €25K. This figure was later revised upwards to €60K +. Judging by the number of people the public service broadcaster sent over, this sounds extremely low to me.

The justification for the trip, according to some RTE person who was quoted, was the level of interest the primaries generate in this country. Okay. But don’t you think sending so many over would have as its goal providing the type of coverage that a) isn’t already available to many on CNN, NBC, Fox, the Huffington Post, NPR, etc. and b) brought a particularly Irish perspective to events. Apparently not.

During the coverage blitz, two particular incidents stick out in my mind: at one point, some alleged RTE reporter billeted to Florida mentioned that ‘travelling along in the car,' he’d 'been listening to an opinionated chap called Ross Limberg’ – who was of course, Rush Limbaugh, the most influential right wing broadcaster in the United States (hence the world).

At another point – remember now, the event was called Super Tuesday because of the number of important States holding primaries – Charlie Bird reported from Alabama, a State so small and so insignificant to what was going on he may as well have been on Tuskar Rock – none of the heavy weight candidates even bothered to visit. Charlie’s contribution was the kind of thing he might pass off on people who’ve never been to the States or who have no understanding about how the American political system works. Fewer and fewer people in modern Ireland, Charlie, fall into your target demographic. 

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