The power of the mass media

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I don’t often post about politics here unless it collides with the internet, but wanted to post about the Irish presidential race. The role of president is largely one of a figurehead, but in the current economic climate of social discord and economic carnage a figurehead that people could believe in would come in handy. Gabriel ‘Gay’ Byrne, a former TV and radio presenter who is Ireland’s equivalent of Ed Sullivan, Walter Cronkite or Johnny Carson after much speculation declined to run for president.

Byrne would have been a candidate on the Fianna Fáil – probably as the only candidate that they could field who was completely clean of the corruption taint that had destroyed the party at the last election and who could appeal to non-party voters. There was a cartoon that ran in yesterday’s Irish Independent newspaper that alluded to the fact that Byrne had more power and influence as the former long term presenter of The Late Late Show, than he would have as a future president.
The power of television
Byrne, The Late Late Show and his daily radio show were the catalyst for Irish social change on issues like family planning, divorce, poverty and sexual abuse. Byrne started his television career at Granada in the UK, where he was the first TV presenter to introduce The Beatles on television. All of this made me reflect that whilst it is easy to discount the mainstream media as it flails around coming to terms with the internet; it still has the power to move political and social change because of its continued large role in people’s lives.