Silenced voices can speak loudest of all

AS the American Senate tries to establish to what extent Russia influenced the election of President Donald Trump and as YouTube has to climb down over false conspiracy theories on the Las Vegas shooting, the what-can-we-believe questions scream ever louder. 

A subsidiary question — does it really matter in our post-truth world? — can’t be avoided either.

These questions focus on private organisations absolutely free to control the views its media outlets facilitate. Exercising that right often places an organisation in a certain frame in the public perception. It is not a power without a cost; the voices silenced often speak loudest of all.

Six years ago Sam Smyth left Today FM, a station owned by Denis O’Brien. In recent weeks George Hook was moved from his daily show on another O’Brien station, Newstalk. On Thursday night, it was announced that Newstalk broadcaster Dil Wickremasinghe’s show has been axed. Newstalk will also no longer use Irish Times journalists because of “vile comments” made during the Hook controversy.

Viewed from outside the media bubble, these excitements may seem a bearable storm in a very small teacup but even if they are so dismissed they underline how important it is to have some idea of the forces that might, one way or another, influence how our world is described to us. It also suggests that the White House is not the only power base that might consider how powerful the idea of grace under pressure is.

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