Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Quick find an excuse, a social media excuse? Even better!

October 29th, 2011 · 13 Comments · Elections, Irish Politics, Trot for the ARAS 2011

On the night of the election of Michael D Higgins to be President Elect of Ireland the last thing I want to be writing about is the problem of a tweet. I love politics, elections and current affairs, it is why I write about them. Yet I found myself pigeon-holed into commentary on social media because so called old media get their knickers in a twist about it constantly because they don’t understand it or don’t want to. Or someone needs a reason to explain things. Or someone wants to call this our Obama election. Again.

Twitter is not a problem, the way twitter is used is one of the problems that faced Sean Gallagher on Monday night’s debate on RTE’s Frontline. However he was challenged by a member of the public in a way no member of the media seemed to be able to (or was let) do on his business practices. The following day he accused this woman of being a plant, she wasn’t. She went for him again. (It was very P Flynnish 1990).

Gallagher also used the words ‘recollection’ and ‘envelope’ (a Bertieism to go with ‘money resting’ in his account) on Monday night and he was reacted to by a live audience who didn’t believe him. Months of positivity aka not answering the question were ripped apart by McGuinness’s questions, Gallagher’s reaction and the audience hissing and deriding him. The tweet from a account – not a fake account but a twitter account that was assumed to be the official account? A small part of the story and indeed there were other people talking about a possible press conference before that tweet was read out.

The questions that were put to Gallagher both by McGuinness and Glenna Lynch concerned issues that were both published or in the hands of many members of the media. Gallagher knew they were out there and had some answers ready. In fact there were lots of questions about Gallagher that suddenly emerged as he raced into the lead in the polls. Rather than do any research on his background when he entered the race the media seemed not to pay much attention until it was getting warmer and then it was nearly too late. And even then they seemed to back off or didn’t have the info to go further. The media were warned about publishing things that they hadn’t published.

Debates are not places for that scrutiny. It was noticeable that Gallagher’s last media interviews in the scheduled roster of interviews on Today with Pat Kenny, the Last Word, Six One were all at the end of the campaign. The day after the Front Line Debate. Was the candidate leaving things to the last moment to keep avoiding things? Only to get filleted – at least by Pat Kenny (with Glenna) and Bryan Dobson after McGuinness had marinaded him?

When you are explaining you are losing and Gallagher lost. Because someone actually asked him questions and he either didn’t have the answers or attacked some questioners or avoided many many others. His voters who were not particularly loyal to him started to think. The RTE/Red C Recall poll showed that job creation was way down the list of reasons to vote for a candidate, honesty and integrity were the most important things. After all that visionary waffle the public wanted someone to mind the gaff and do a good job.

They changed their mind not because of a tweet. Blaming the machine and not the message is easy when you are losing. If Gallagher had won we’d have been hearing all about the role of social media in his victory which would have also been bullshit. Yet in days to come some in old media and some candidates will want twitter locked up, polls banned and all sorts of regulation because they can’t control them. Can’t control voters either though can you?

Tomorrow more about Michael D winning!



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