Tricky Dicky & Liary Gerry

A day or two back a friend on the internet drew my attention to an obituary in the New York Times for Ian Paisley. In regards to the subject there was nothing in it that particularly caught the eye. Like many obituaries it looked as if it had been penned before Paisley died. The obituarist had time to carry out the research, hence it did not seem rushed and had enough detail to make the grade. The only thing staying the publication green light was the red light that signalled a halt to Paisley’s 88 year long life.

It is a very much a truism to say that verification is crucial: newspapers want to avoid the uncomfortable situation of featuring an obituary of a person before they died as happened with the late David Ervine. Too much of that in respect of Northern Irish political leaders would leave the press open to suspicion that it can’t see the North’s political class into the grave quickly enough. Even if the defence can be mounted that this is an understandable sentiment it is still unseemly.

It was not until the very last line of the New York Times obituary that a reader’s eyebrow would raise. It came by way of a correction to an earlier version of the same piece which:
referred incorrectly to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the power-sharing agreement for Northern Ireland that Mr. Paisley accepted in 2007. He is a Sinn Fein leader; he was not an Irish Republican Army leader.

For a newspaper as prestigious as the New York Times, it stretches credulity that it could have gotten something so wrong. To claim that Gerry Adams ‘was not an Irish Republican Army leader’ carries the same truth status had the very same obituary reported that Ian Paisley was not a Protestant. It is the stuff of propaganda, not serious news reporting. It is what the reader might expect from the pages of An Phoblacht but not from the New York Times. 

Wherever the pressure came from to queer the pitch of accurate reporting we can only guess. Mr Adams, a former Provisional IRA chief of staff and long serving member of the IRA's governing army council, has taken to threatening libel action against journalists who report on his life or political career in a manner, usually truthful, not to his liking. 

There would of course be nothing wrong for the paper to have claimed that Mr Adams has long denied being a member of the IRA. Such denials while universally reviled and ridiculed are boiler plate responses that most people have heard as often as they have Richard Nixon’s protestations that “I am not a crook.” But to state as true, as a matter of record, something that is wholly untrue, which is at variance with all knowledge on the matter, devalues the gravitas of the reporting. It makes the paper appear timorous in the face of libel threats or that it has a tendency to defer to political lobbying. 

Mr Adams may no longer be a member of the Provisional IRA. He is a career politician and probably genuinely believes that his career might be adversely affected by truthful reports about his role as a senior leader of the Provisional IRA. In that regard Mr Adams has indeed bona fide concerns for his political career. But his concerns should not be the concerns of the media. Those tasked with keeping the public informed should indeed be concerned if they fail to cause politicians like Mr Adams concern. 

Now we are left to ponder what sort of obituary will feature in the New York Times for Mr Adams when he eventually shuffles off this mortal coil. If it fails to mention his role as an IRA leader, it will be on a par with an obituary for Richard Nixon that covered all aspects of his life ... just not his time in the White House.


  1. "It is what the reader might expect from the pages of An Phoblacht but not from the New York Times."


  2. You are probably right Mick


  3. It's from the Murdoch Press.
    Is anyone surprised.
    The Murdoch press uses fictional garbage like the TV show the "sons of Anarchy" as propaganda prop up the ailing Brit Empire.
    Murdoch is a joke.
    Everything from Fox News. to the Sun to the Tv channel F/X is all done with one aim.
    To propagandize the population.

  4. Now we know why An Phoblacht has a love in for Paisley; it is owned by Murdoch Press!!!

    I loved Sons of Anarchy too; now Ozzie has gone and ruined the illusions.

    The season based in Ireland was poor.

    I hope nobody tells us Breaking Bad is a Murdoch production - that is next in line to be viewed.

  5. @ Ozzy,
    Everything from Fox News. to the Sun to the Tv channel F/X is all done with one aim. To propagandize the population.

    It's more than to simply propagandize the masses, they also know millions tune in at the same time allowing them to deflect peoples attention at once.

    I'm waiting for a few episodes of Boardwalk Empire to build up and then watch 4 or 5 in a row.. Someone, somewhere will put it online for free..

  6. Anthony,

    couldn't help laughing I think you are safe on Breaking Bad then again you never know as TV stations are always buying and trading shows.

  7. Quick straw poll.. Raise your right hand if you have a TV license or a Sky type system? Now raise you left hand if you have neither.. (I have neither).

    To all the people who raised their right hands.. If I was in charge of a media empire that covered up child abuse, made excellent wildlife programs and spouted Government propaganda; would you pay me 145 green backs each year?

    Or if my media empire employed un-ethical journalists had more adverts per hour than the show and spouted Government propaganda ; Would you pay me 30-50 green backs a month?

    If not why not?

    I don't know who was behind 'Breaking bad, Boardwalk Empire..Son of Anarchy' but I do know if I wanted to watch them free of charge I can go to here.... My top tip from the FAQ- Help page


  8. C'mon Anyhony.
    It's about a Motorcycle gang smuggling weapons.
    Why didn't they use a gang smuggling weapons from the USA into Mexico..Like what happens for real.
    That'd be too close to the bone for American viewers..People might get the wrong idea that Murdoch/Fox was making subtle hints about gun control/.
    Ergo they have a Story where IRA smuggle guns INTO USA . Thereby achievning two aims at the same time.
    1) America is blameless.
    And 2) Those IRA fellows are bad eggs!!!!
    And then just to makes matters even more worse.. Those guns from Ireland are smuggled in Irish Oil!!!!!
    Sure it's well known that Ireland exports more oil than Alaska and Norway combined!!!!!
    Naw. from me it's just using "entertainment" as propaganda.
    My advice watch Boardwalk Empire instead. They show Thompson Sub Machine guns going from the USA into Ireland.As it should be.

  9. BTW Breaking Bad is pretty good.
    It's a decent watch.
    That was done by AMC..The same guys who did Mad Men.
    I'd also recommend Shameless US. Which
    has 4 seasons under it's belt. And a fifth on the way.
    Boardwalk Empire was good.
    Gommora the TV show was Ace. As was Romanzo Criminale. (Tv Series..Film is great also) Both those were excellent as was/is the Sopranos.

  10. Ozzy is just a spoil sport. I hope he has no views on True Detective otherwise this house will be well and truly banjaxed. And don't dare mention The Walking Dead! Them old Zombies are hard to beat.


  11. Anthony.
    On True detective..If I wrote what I think.
    The internets would break down. Suffice to say in only 8 parts it IS short.
    a bit like an Obit of Paisley I'll leave out the truth and try and soin the good.

    @ Frankie.
    On boardwalk I already have parts 1 and 2 of season 5..Not watched them.
    Like you I save them up for a bit.