#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 6°C Monday 8 March 2021
Advertisement

RTÉ criticised for inauguration coverage after commentator called Joe Biden a 'criminal'

James Conner of Republicans Overseas previously suggested on air that Antifa was behind the attack on the US Capitol.

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Image: PA Images

RTÉ HAS BEEN criticised for comments made by a contributor to its inauguration coverage this afternoon after James Conner of Republicans Overseas called Joe Biden and Kamala Harris “two frauds” and falsely claimed one was “a bona fide criminal”.

Conner was previously criticised following an appearance on the Today programme with Philip Boucher-Hayes a fortnight ago, when he suggested Antifa was to blame for the attack by supporters of Donald Trump on the US Capitol.

Conner has been a guest on a number of RTÉ programmes in recent months but comments he made on air today provoked significant anger online.

Following Biden’s inauguration as US President, Conner said “there you have it, two frauds sworn in” and added that one was a “bona fide criminal, complicit in the violation of multiple directives”.

RTÉ’s presenter and former Washington correspondent Caitríona Perry intervened to say “you don’t have evidence of that here James”.

While on RTÉ radio on 7 January, the day after the attack on the US Capitol that left five people dead, Conner asked “do we know that these people were in fact Trump supporters?”. He then added “why not?” to the suggestion that it may have been Antifa activists. 

A spokesperson for RTÉ did not provide a comment when asked about Conner’s appearance on the inauguration coverage today but pointed to Perry’s rebuttal of his claims.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

Despite this, a number of politicians have been critical of the decision to have him on the programme.

Rise TD Paul Murphy said: “It is incredible that after James Conner falsely blamed Antifa for the Trumpist attack on the Capitol that RTÉ decided he should be invited again to comment on the inauguration.”

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin gave credit to RTÉ’s US political coverage but said that it’s time to dial down adversarial commentary.

“We have to move beyond getting the extremes of both sides, if you’re going to go for a spokesperson from the Republican side you have to be sure who you’re getting on and I don’t think his voice adds to an understanding of where we go from here. You don’t want a voice that’s essentially an unthinking Trump supporter or coverage that’s always going to end in a row,” he said.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

Read next:

COMMENTS (122)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel