Blast from the past: In 2008 we organised a public meeting to discuss the reporting of the Iraq war in the Irish press. Several hundred people came along to watch a panel of experienced reporters, from both corporate and independent institutions, debate the topic (with more following the event live online at RTE.ie and the RealNews.com).
The following day the Irish Independent ran an inaccuracy filled (and predictably ill-willed) hit piece by columnist Kevin Myers. After a protracted exchange with the paper’s editor we submitted the following letter as response:
We write in response to Kevin Myers’s article ‘My narrow escape from an ambush by the liberal left’ (Irish Independent, April 10) which attacks MediaBite and alleges all manner of fiendish plotting and ulterior motives behind our invitation to him to participate in the debate entitled ‘Reporting War’, which took place at DIT Aungier Street the night before Mr Myers’s article appeared.
Mr Myers’s excitement about our debate is as mystifying to us as it is inaccurate: names are spelled incorrectly, he skews the sequence of events he describes and misstates the context and nature of the exchanges we had with him prior to inviting him to participate in the debate.
Most Irish newspaper readers will be accustomed to Mr Myers’s indignation in the pages of the national media.
It is, arguably, generally understood that it is Kevin’s job to be continually working himself up about one thing or another and he has been doing splendid work in that regard for a long time now. What appears to be new in this article, however, is an element of what looks to us like paranoia.
We also believe, perhaps mistakenly, that the article was likely filed for publication before the debate had even begun.
Mr Myers clearly didn’t watch it at any rate — which would have been an advisable thing to do.
The consequences of that omission are sadly apparent in almost every line of the article.
As with most things in life, the explanation for all of this is the obvious one
MediaBite had a polite exchange of opinions with Kevin Myers about an item he had published in relation to the Iraq war.
As a media monitoring project, that is the nature of what we do. We posted this exchange to our website message board, where it can be seen for what it is.
A week and a half later we invited Mr Myers to participate in our debate — both as a journalist who has written frequently about war and out of a concern to represent as fair and full a range of opinion and news media providers as possible
Having placed himself front and centre in his imaginary scheme, Kevin Myers can only, it seems, conceive of the debate itself, its audience, MediaBite, the DIT, RTE.ie.
The Real News Network, the six debate panellists and its moderator (most of whom he takes sideswipes at, and three of whom had flown from the UK, Toronto and California to be present) — as all being mere props and/or dupes to aid us in our alleged objective: to “ambush” Kevin Myers.
He alone was to be the sole and true object of the entire plot.
The idea is made all the more absurd given that Mr Myers was not mentioned once in the course of the debate.
There is not even a particle of truth in Kevin Myers’s allegations about MediaBite, as we hope this letter makes evident.
We can only ask that readers of the Irish Independent take the time to watch the debate, which is available as a webcast on RTE.ie and linked to from MediaBite.org — and make up their own minds as to whether it was a devilish plot against Mr Myers by MediaBite or a worthwhile discussion about media coverage of an issue of serious concern to most Irish people.