RTÉ finally responded last night to the criticism they have been receiving for broadcasting an interview with convicted drug trafficker Michealla McCollum on Sunday night.
Instead of actually answering questions they decided to send out a general statement yesterday evening in which they skimmed over some of the more questionable issues surrounding the programme.
Missing from the statement was an answer to the most glaring question: Why was she given such a soft interview?
Instead the station preferred to focus on the positives pointing out that it drew in a large audience.
“Last night’s interview was watched by an average of 550,000 viewers with one in three people watching television last night watching the programme, reflecting the significant public interest in the story.
“This was Michaella McCollum’s first media interview since her original arrest in 2013 and during the course of the interview she made many frank admissions about the damage her actions may have caused.”
She told interviewer Trevor Birney that she had been “naive, young and insecure” and made a mistake “in a moment of madness.”
Back when she was arrested in August 2013 along with her accomplice Melissa Reid she lied about how she came to be in possession of €2 million worth of cocaine alleging she had been held at gunpoint and that a gang threatened to kill her family if she did not co-operate with them and transport the drugs. Someone with a history of lying is now supposed to be taken at her word?
Another reason given by RTE for broadcasting this was because “Michaella felt doing so would deter other people from engaging in criminal activity.” If this was her intention why not answer some hard questions so? Instead she was asked questions about her hair and “what was it like to have your mother here?”
The whole thing reeked of her being PR prepped to the max and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the offers come flooding in from programmes like “I’m a Celebrity Whatever.”
As per the statement neither she nor her family “was paid for the interview…nor did RTÉ make any contribution to any fund relating to Michaella McCollum.” It said:
“This is the second programme RTÉ has made on the Michaella McCollum story. We initially broadcast Michaella, Peru and the Drugs Run in 2014 which revealed how she agreed to become a drug transporter and the devastating effect it had on her family.
For the past two years Michaella McCollum’s story has been both controversial and divisive. It’s the story of a young Irish woman who committed a serious crime in a foreign country and her arrest, subsequent conviction and prison sentence have generated significant media coverage both nationally and internationally.”
Surely the only reason it’s “generated significant media coverage” is because media organisations like RTE focus on the story. A young Irish man, Kieran Barry Murphy aged 23, was arrested in Thailand last year for allegedly trying to sell cannabis to an undercover policeman.
A video of his arrest was released online, and in it he can be heard saying “he had nothing to do with the deal,” and that the undercover officer “completely set” me up.
He will held in custody until his trial which isn’t due to be heard until 2017 and if found guilty is facing 50 years in jail. When are RTE showing his documentary? And which drug is the more damaging to society marijuana or cocaine?