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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 15, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

    George W. the “sole” survivor

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    I have seen politicians dodging questions at press conferences but this is my first time to see one dodging shoes. Bush’s reflexes are quite impressive, it must be said. It would be equally interesting to see what is happening to the TV journo as he lies on the floor. Listen to the screams. I wouldn’t want to be in  his “shoes” right now.

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    • Dan Sullivan says:

      I’ll bet Jon Stewart is livid this happened after his show has gone on its Christmas break.

    • David Quinn says:

      One should not joke about somebody being beaten severely. Personally I find the tone of this 63 word snippet distasteful, in addition to being poorly written.

    • Deaglán says:

      We don’t know for certain that he is being beaten severely. If he were, presumably other journos would have reported it. My suspicion, based only on a fleeting glimpse in another video is that he may have been given an injection and that may be why he is screaming. But it has to be said that we don’t know for certain the screams are his, they could be coming from a security guard or another journo caught in the melee. Apparently a White House spokeswoman got a black eye when someone poked a microphone in her face by accident. I note you have no sympathy at all for the US President who could have suffered severe and even permanent injury and disfigurement if he had been hit by even one of the pair of shoes thrown at him. Would you like a shoe or two thrown in your face? I hope against hope that the shoe-thrower is being treated humanely but that doesn’t alter the fact that his behaviour was utterly disgraceful and puts all members of my profession in jeopardy for the future. (Nice to know you can count though!)

    • IrishWhiskey says:

      Deaglán, you are, I’m sure, aware that the brother of the journalist had said that the journalist has suffered a broken hand and rib(s). Also, I think it is appropriate for an Iraqi who has witnessed the deaths of so many Iraqis at close quarters to have grievances regarding the illegal act perpetrated on his country with more than one million excess deaths (ORB, Lancet).
      That you should concentrate on president Bush’s rather ordinary reflex is shameful.
      I too, don’t think it is acceptable to make flippant comments about another human being being beaten up.

    • Deaglán says:

      You’re taking me up wrong. I don’t wish to underplay the seriousness of this so-called journalist’s alleged mistreatment. However I take the position of journalists very seriously. Anything that undermines our professional reputation is to be deplored. If he wanted to make a protest he should have found some other mechanism and not undermined the position of all journalists in the process. It may be appropriate for the guy to have a grievance, it is most certainly not appropriate to misuse a press conference to launch a dangerous physical attack on a visiting head of state, even one who has pursued the policies Bush has espoused. I would not have supported the Iraqi invasion which was a bad mistake on the part of the US administration. But many of the deaths were caused by fanatical suicide bombers who did not have the interests of the Iraqi people at heart.

    • John says:

      If this “journalist” had thrown a shoe at Saddam he would have been dead before he got a chance to remove the other one.Also remember that although Irish media outlets portrayed this man as a hero to all Iraqis his actions were only popular with Saddam loyalists (of whom there seem to be a large contingent in Irish media outlets). For an alternative view this is excellent.

    • Deaglán says:

      I doubt there would have been any real journalists on the Iraqi side at a Saddam press conference (not that he had too many of them). In dictatorships, the “journalists” at such events are virtually always government lackeys who parrot the official line and ask questions that will show the regime in a good light.

    • John says:

      As a journalist can you give any idea why the actions of Saddam were excused by the Irish media? I clearly recall when his troops invaded Kuwait there was a scramble to excuse him because ” Kuwait was not a democracy”. Where were all the commentators when Saddam was killing on a massive scale?

    • Deaglán says:

      I don’t recall much criticism of the Saddam regime: it was largely ignored except in the pages of my own paper which as usual took an honourable stance. I remember being concerned in the late 1980s about the links between Ireland and Iraq and this country’s apparent silence on human rights issues. As Minister for Health, Charlie Haughey went on a visit in, I think 1978 and if I am not mistaken expressed some admiration for Ba’ath Socialism. In more recent times, I interviewed several anti-Saddam exiles and reported their views on the regime. Some of them are in prominent positions now in Baghdad. I don’t recall the Irish media excusing the invasion of Kuwait. Do you have any specifics on that?

    • John says:

      The name of the programme was Today Tonight(?) or its predecessor. The argument was that Kuwait was run on a feudal basis so what was the problem with invasion?
      What I am trying to get at is the uniform acceptance in Ireland that only bad has come from the invasion of Iraq. It is a mantra. The fact is that the Saddam regime was barbaric and would have been furthered and prolonged by his sons. The French and Russians were happy to leave him there because it suited them. No journalist in Ireland ever seems to be willing to speak against the consensus in case they are branded as neocons etc etc. Free speech and lively debate are rare commodities in Ireland.

    • Deaglán says:

      I don’t remember that programme. Mind you, I have never heard Kuwait praised as a Jeffersonian democracy. There are some journalists who speak out against the consensus but they usually are firmly pro-Bush and effectively neo-cons on a whole range of issues. Then there are the liberals and lefties. Seems to be very few in between who take each issue on its merits. If you want to know where I stand, I regarded the Iraq invasion as a bad idea but I’m glad to hear the place is becoming stable and democratic – I hope it’s true.

      By the way, this shoe thing is catching on:


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