I see Denis O Brien’s media employees are all on message (as we say in the Bockschloss boardroom while shooting puppies and picking low-hanging fruit). Reaction to Judge Moriarty’s biting criticism of their master has been, to put it kindly, muted, with the slant coming straight from Denis himself, perhaps finally explaining why a hard-headed businessman would keep a loss-maker like Newstalk on life support for so long.
The spin reminds me of the creationist dismissal of science: it’s only a theory. In the very same way, DOB’s shock-troops are trotting out the profoundly dishonest line that Moriarty’s findings are only his opinion, thus rejecting the judicial process in every civil action ever taken.
In a moment of petulance, Michael Lowry described the Tribunal as a trial.
It is not.
The test in a civil case is the balance of probabilities. The Tribunal was not a trial, requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, despite Lowry’s self-pitying bleat at his press conference in Tipperary and Ben Dunne’s ridiculous I-was-out-of-my-head-on-coke defence.
The line being spun now is that there’s no point in going to the courts because the judges are a cosy club who will stick together. It’s true that the judges are a small club, but senior courts routinely overturn decisions by judges of lower courts. This media offensive allows O Brien to simultaneously cast a slur on Moriarty’s integrity and the independence of the judiciary, while at the same time avoiding the necessity to actually argue his case out in a court of law. He has clearly decided to fight this in the papers he part-owns and on the radio stations he owns outright, where he can call the shots without any pesky lawyer asking him hard questions. DOB is a major shareholder of Independent News & Media, while his company owns Today FM, Dublin 98, Newstalk and the appropriately-named Spin 1038 and Spin South West.
In impugning Moriarty’s integrity, DOB, Dunne and Lowry are playing a dangerous and cynical game. From now on, every judge who finds against a wealthy person will be on the receiving end of subtle character assassination.
One law for the rich?
No. Two, three or more. As many as it takes.
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