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Terry Prone is my favourite political agony aunt.
But in the case of her latest column, ‘Cowen might have an honorary doctorate, but he has not learned’ (Irish Examiner, July 31), lecturing Brian Cowen on ‘home truths’ on the basis of one personal experience, she has lost the run of herself.
She has not been elected to anything, not submitted herself to the will of the people anywhere, whereas Mr Cowen has done so in his constituency, in his party, in the Dáil — and in the full glare of the media.
As a member of Brian Cowen’s staff in Foreign Affairs, I admired his intelligence, commitment, seriousness, and maybe most of all that rare quality of which Terry Prone bemoans the lack: namely, his sheer curiosity, eagerness to know and learn, absent with her but not, I am sure, absent with his civil servants in Foreign Affairs.
In the mid-1980s, I accompanied Peter Barry, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, to Bunny Carr Communciations, a school of which Terry is a graduate. I took instruction from their advice on TV presentation, posture, body language, attitude to presenter, but not so much from the advice ‘answer the question you want to answer’, i.e., not the question you are asked. We live now in an age of distrust, media distrust politicians, politicians distrust media, and the people distrust them both. Although we vote for politicians we can unsupport media by not buying newspapers or subscriptions or simply not tuning in.
Next year maybe the Irish Examiner could host a summer school on the theme ‘Fake Media’ with your columnists as panellists? Brian Cowen in the chair? Could be interesting. Fun too!
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