The Liberal State-Controlled Media

Leo Varadkar TD at a Fine Gael press conferenc...
An Illiberal

Well, it’s good to know I suppose.

Leo Varadkar, Fine Gael minister for transport, has accused state broadcaster RTÉ of “liberal bias”. Yes, his exact words. Just like he was on Fox News. Brings an entire new meaning to the term Irish Republican, doesn’t it?

Though it is sometimes hard to tell where Fine Gael are coming from politically, if you had to characterise them in a single word then “Liberal” would have been it. They’re a good fit for what it traditionally means – in Europe: In favour of individual freedom, including the freedom to use the advantages you were born into. So, laissez-faire economics and no particular interest in your private life.

But he seems to be using it in the American sense, where the phrase liberal bias has come to be coded language for anything not conservative, Christian and pro-Republican. Witness Conservapedia, the online encyclopaedia invented to provide information free from Wikipedia’s liberal bias – by which they mean evolution and other non-Biblical aberrations. In this mindset, neutrality itself is liberal bias.

I don’t claim RTÉ have no problems with objectivity, and I am sure that Varadkar is not actually a Creationist. But it is more than worrying to see a politician adopting the rhetoric of wilful ignorance. Does he really want to align himself with the likes of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum?