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'The bitch is back': Why is RTÉ giving a platform to Katie Hopkins this week?

Popular culture writer Amy O’Connor has little faith in The Late Late Show to “adequately grill Katie Hopkins on her dangerous, xenophobic views”.

Amy O'Connor

2016: DONALD J TRUMP is President-elect of the United States. Discourse in the United Kingdom has been reduced to, “Poppies are good, immigrants and judges are bad.” Gary Lineker has somehow emerged as the sole voice of reason and empathy on social media. Prince Harry is literally pleading with the tabloid press to stop making racist remarks about his girlfriend. Kim Kardashian West hasn’t tweeted in 38 days.

In other words, everything has gone to shit and we don’t even have a heartwarming sports spectacle to serve as a distraction from the hellscape we find ourselves in.

So, how do you think RTÉ’s The Late Late Show, one of the most consistently popular programmes in Ireland and the longest-running chat show in the world, has chosen to tackle these horrifying developments? By inviting a panel of reasonable, intelligent people to dissect the current political climate? By chatting to some Washington correspondents? By just ignoring it altogether?

Not quite.

So you’re saying that a former Apprentice contestant who has previously likened refugees to “cockroaches,” described gypsies as “feral animals,” and was praised by a certain Donald J Trump for writing about the UK’s so-called “Muslim problems” is going to be given a platform on Irish television on this of all weeks?

The Late Late Show has always been welcoming to Katie Hopkins. She has made three appearances on the show since 2014. Each time, she has expended energy giving out about baby names, fat people and stay-at-home mothers. You know, the real enemies.

For a time, this was Katie Hopkins’ bread and butter. But with creepy right-wing nationalism in vogue again, Hopkins has adjusted her rhetoric and aligned herself with the likes of UKIP’s Nigel Farage.

Instead of demonising overweight people, she now tweets disparaging remarks about the father of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler found washed up on a beach in 2015. Instead of being weirdly obsessed with Katie Price, she writes columns blaming black teenagers for their own murders. Instead of ragging on children named Chantelle, she blasts employment schemes promoting ethnic diversity.

Rather cynically, this has proven to a savvy career move on Hopkins’ part. She has a regular Daily Mail column. She hosts her own radio show on LBC. And she’s frequently invited on television programmes like The Late Late Show to espouse her racist, sexist, classist views.

Why? Because they know she’ll incite a reaction and apparently that’s what television is all about nowadays. Reactions. Outrage. Stirring the pot. It’s why Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge lets George Hook rant incoherently about Hillary Clinton and it’s why David McWilliams allows Ann Coulter to discuss banning immigrants. And it’s how the world has ended up with Donald Trump and Nigel Farage as two of the world’s most influential political figures.

If I believed for one minute that Ryan Tubridy might seriously challenge Katie Hopkins, I might not be so opposed to the whole stunt. But her previous appearances on the show have seen Tubridy treat her like a gas divil with no filter.

Oh Katie, you’re just terrible. Lads, isn’t she some divil?

For instance, during a 2014 appearance, a female audience member was trying to explain to Hopkins that you can be both happy and fat. The first words Hopkins said to this woman? “You’re not hard to spot.” Tubridy’s response to Hopkins was as weak as you’d expect. “That’s just mean,” he whimpered with all the conviction of a newborn kitten.

And… that was it.

katie

So you’ll understand why I have little faith in RTÉ and The Late Late Show to adequately grill Katie Hopkins on her dangerous, xenophobic views. Perhaps I will be proved wrong, but I highly doubt it.

In fact, I imagine it will go like this: On Friday night, Ryan Tubridy will tease Hopkins’ appearance with glee. (“She’s back to ruffle feathers!”) Hopkins will say horrible things, give out about political correctness and defend Donald Trump and Brexit. Maybe she’ll kiss an audience member or maybe Tubridy will mess up her hair.

Viewers will give out about her on social media. Others will claim that she’s saying that she’s merely saying what everyone is thinking. Irish media publications will cover the appearance (and inevitable outrage) on Saturday. This will all be regarded as a “win” for The Late Late Show and she’ll be back in six months time to troll us all over again.

Because it’s 2016. And that’s how we do things now.

Amy O’Connor writes about popular entertainment and culture on DailyEdge.ie and on her Medium blog.

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Amy O'Connor

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