The Final Word

Remember #picturegate?

A pregnant situation
A pregnant situation

As described in a complaint to the broadcasting complaints commission, RTÉ showed two portraits of the taoiseach, one ‘in a pregnant situation’. RTÉ News later apologised ‘for any personal offence caused to Mr Cowen or his family or for any disrespect shown to the office of taoiseach.’

But in response to a complaint that the report was ‘gutter journalism at it’s worst’, RTÉ argued the story was ‘a legitimate news item‘ and ‘did not offend against commonly held standards‘.

‘The images of Mr Cowen were well within the bounds of what is acceptable in caricatures,’ the station said.

‘There was no reason for any member of the public to take undue offence at caricatures which are no different to those which are frequently seen in newspaper cartoons.’

‘Influential political leaders are, and can expect to be, subjected to such parody and satire,’ the commission decided. ‘The commission must respect the right to freedom of expression.’

‘The commission also found that it would not be reasonable to determine that the content caused widespread undue distress or offence. It did not transgress the requirements of the Code of Programme Standards itself.’

So will RTÉ now apologise for it’s unnecessary apology?

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.


  1. Nothing like the last word. The BCC recieved 9 complaints about the original broadcast. This is a response to one of them. Still outstanding is a response to the other 8 and, more significantly, to the 135 complaints which related to the broadcasting of the apology. Expect those to come out some day when an avalanche has buried O’Connell St.

  2. It’s effectively the last word on the pictures. The BCC is unlikely to reverse itself and decide the pictures were beyond the pale, having already found that they’re kosher.

    If I have time and remember, maybe I’ll phone them in the morning and ask how many apology complaints they’re considering at present, just for fun.

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