By Aprille Scully
Socialist Party TD, Ruth Coppinger’s assertion that Independent Newspapers champion austerity, has drawn squawks of indignation from the media. In an attempt to rebuke this, Brendan O’Connor (presumably with a straight face) claimed: “[The Irish Independent] has campaigned hugely against austerity for the last six years”.
Some of the most spectacular examples of pro-austerity articles were published by The Sunday Independent including: “We Need to Stop Living in Denial and Cut Costs Further”. Famously, their degradation of public sector workers who went on strike to defend their standard of living drew condemnation such as “our public sector’s motto is really less work, more pay” and “the private sector has already had a reality check, it’s time for the public sector to step up”.
This tactic of divide and rule, to pit one worker against another, is typical of what is leveraged to stamp out any cause for workers to unite and protest. To quote O’Connor, “The mass media is one of the mechanisms that rich people use to keep people down”.
A recent study published by UCD’s Julien Mercille (The Role of The Media in the Fiscal Consolidation programmes: The Case of Ireland) looks at the content from major Irish newspaper publications since 2008 and found this right wing thought is the basis for
A mere 10% of articles oppose fiscal consolidation (i.e. austerity) with 58% openly supportive of it. Similarly, only 2% of articles suggested an increase in government spending despite the abominable state of public services. This is unsurprising, as Ruth Coppinger pointed out, considering who controls the media and consequently establishment parties dominating the discourse.