Activists attacks The Frontline over ‘bias’

Since Monday night’s edition, The Frontline has been under fierce attack over its alleged bias against the pro-gay side. The attack rests on two pieces of evidence. One is that the panel consisted of two pro-traditional marriage proponents, namely me and Senator Jim Walsh, and only one person in support of the family diversity position, namely Senator Ivana Bacik.

The second is that presenter Pat Kenny was biased against Senator Bacik because he asked her some tough questions.Frontline

I have been on many programmes down the years on various stations debating many issues and have regularly found myself outnumbered on the panel and pressed hard by the presenter. It’s not pleasant and often the set-up of the show and the hostile attitude of the presenter is the result of conscious or unconscious bias but I just get on with it.

Monday night’s Frontline was not biased in my opinion, although some people complained to me that it was biased the other way because most of the speakers in the audience were on the family diversity side.

It is true that the panel was two-to-one against Ivana and that Pat asked her tough questions. On the other hand, the speakers in the audience were indeed mostly on the family diversity side and included heavy-hitters like Catherine McGuinness and Grainne Healy of MarriagEquality in addition to the lesbian couple and their sons who were there to pluck at the heart-strings.

In addition, Ivana got to speak second at the start, which is normally an advantage and the lead-in report was if anything skewed towards the family diversity side and ended with a clip of a very damaged figure defending marriage, namely Cardinal Sean Brady.

The reason Pat was tough on Ivana is because, in Pat’s opinion, she was avoiding some of the questions and any good presenter will pursue someone when they see this happening. I believe I answered the questions I was given straight-forwardly.

Many programmes on RTE have allowed the pro-gay side uncontested airtime in the last few years and therefore this one programme, because it was balanced overall, has come as a shock to them because they are so used to having it all their own way.

I sincerely hope RTE doesn’t listen to these complaints but I note that yesterday on Drivetime Ivana Bacik was allowed uncontested airtime to put her point of view on the Civil Partnership Bill. Will the station make up for that? I have never been given uncontested time on this issue by RTE, but who’s complaining?