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COLM TOBIN: Kielty got off to a steady start, but one Johnny is already too much for me!

September 25th, 2023 3:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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WAS I the only person in Ireland last week who wasn’t granted an extensive sit-down interview in Sean Quinn’s kitchen? 

First, there was Miriam giving him the sincere stare on Prime Time. Then I saw him popping up on Virgin Media during their A Scare at Bedtime nightly politics section. By the weekend I was having serious Séan Quinn interview Fomo and wondering why I didn’t get a go. 

The reaction to the media blitz was interesting and I noted the comments of Mike Aynsley, who led Anglo Irish Bank when it seized the Quinn Group in 2011. Quinn’s ‘attempt to rewrite history seems quite Trumpian’, he said. 

Indeed it was a week of white, male former high rollers coming out with their own defensive media strategies. Russell Brand took to his YouTube channel to respond to what he called ‘baroque’ accusations about his allegedly predatory behaviour back when you couldn’t really get away from him on British telly during the noughties. What baroque actually means in this context is absolutely mysterious but then again the man has always had a way to deflect with verbose grandiosity. I can’t even write about him without indulging in it myself!  

I saw the Channel 4 Dispatches/Sunday Times investigation the other night and it is shocking in its detail, or maybe not shocking at all, depending on your perspective.

When I read that he has millions of followers on YouTube I logged on to check the numbers for myself. Who are these 6.6 million eejits, I thought, as I perused videos with titles like ‘The FBI Have Been Harvesting Your DNA?!?’ and ‘Hang On, Is UFO Testimony Being Used To Increase Military Spending?’ 

Then, to my horror, I noticed I was already a subscriber to the channel myself. And there I was, wondering why the algorithm was feeding me such nonsense recently! 

Life comes at you fast on the internet.

Brand has been developing his online persona and politics along alt-right anti-mainstream media lines in recent years, and has found a sweet spot where all this overlaps with his continuing evolution as some sort of wellness guru. Where Buddhism meets Trumpism, if you like. Interesting strategy, isn’t it? 

If you were expecting a scandal coming down the tracks, getting your followers to disbelieve everything they see and hear in the ‘mainstream media’ would certainly seem like a good tactic to pursue.

When you’re in a hole ...

SPEAKING of stars falling out of the sky, Virgin Media news had reports about other celestial bodies landing on Portmarnock Beach during the week. The news featured a local astronomy enthusiast who reckoned a hole on the beach bore all the hallmarks of a meteorite which had crashed-landed to Earth the previous evening. 

To the delight of many social media users, a video emerged of two lads in shorts digging a large crater-like hole with plastic shovels the day before, during the tail end of the heatwave. Virgin Media quickly followed up with a correction. 

After another week of RTÉ in front of government committees, and much hand-wringing about the importance of public service broadcasting, it shows how vital it is to have a media ecosystem that has the trust of the people, or at least most of them. It’s not called the Fourth Estate for nothing. 

And reports like this only help the cause of Russell Brand and the rest of the anti-MSM crowd. 

Even though, in all fairness, this one was a solid hoot. I felt sorry for the local ‘astronomer’. He must be mortified, the poor old crater.

So far so good for the LLS

PADDY Kielty got off to a steady start on his first Late Late last week. His monologue didn’t pull any punches, either, even if the institution employing him is like a particularly large fish in a small barrel. A million people tuned in for the first episode and you get the sense that everybody is willing him to succeed, for the moment anyway. 

He’s likeable and the symbolism of a host from the North with his personal history is no small thing, especially in the political moment we are going through. You get a sense a Rugby World Cup win could be enough to create a driving maul over the line towards unification. 

The guests on the Late Late weren’t so exciting, however, and I found myself turning off once the Two Johnnies showed up. I get that they’re popular and serve a certain audience, but I spent four years in UL listening to drunk fellas from Tipperary talking about pints and shifting in The Stables, so that was me done for the evening. One Johnny is already one too many for me, thanks very much.

Hopefully, there will be more interesting guests to come.

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