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The Culch no image

Published on March 25th, 2009 | by Allan


The Taoiseach has no clothes and RTE has no balls: the Brian Cowen Nude Caricature


(No taoisigh were harmed in the making of this image. You may experience some nausea yourself though, for which I apologise, but this is about principle, freedom of speech, and news staying news. Reblogged from here.)

Tonight RTE News issued an apology for reporting news. This will not stand. You may be familiar by now with the anonymously donated nudes of Brian Cowen in the RHA and National Gallery.

Well RTE has been gradually censoring itself over the course of the day. First the report which should be viewable on the RTE website was withdrawn. Next the captions on the images were changed. Now the images have been removed altogether. And finally RTE News apologised to Brian Cowen and the office of the Taoiseach for any offence caused.

I know who painted this and I know it has got even more bizarre behind the scenes. ;The Gardai are involved; but funnily enough he hasn’t been charged with anything. Garda resources were squandered on this but what the hell, there were paintings at large. This needs to be screamed from the rooftops: the very freedom to express dissent and poke fun at those in power is being attacked. Brian Cowen’s handlers have decided that Kim Jong-il has the right attitude and have started leaning on RTE to amend its coverage of our inglorious leader: Nob Nation had to tone it down 2 weeks ago (although the producer claimed there was no government interference with tonight’s form you’ve got to wonder) and now RTE had to apologise because the DG got a bollocking from the Government Press Office.

When the government can so clearly meddle in the broadcast decisions of the national broadcaster this should cause all of us concern. The news was changed today to reflect the offended sensibilities of those in power. This has been par for the course for years no doubt; but when something as frivolous as a report on a funny painting can be withdrawn from the RTE archive, that is cut and dried censorship of the innocuous. We are now not allowed to laugh at Brian Cowen.

Well I say no. That won’t do at all. I’ve written here before about the importance of satire in society. Cowen’s handlers are exercising their influence over the increasingly frail RTE but they can’t stop people laughing. So even if you’re someone who’d lay down your life for Brian, you shouldn’t have to suppress your titters in a democracy.

EDIT: Irish Election have t-shirts for sale, proceeds going to the Rape Crisis Network.

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About the Author

Allan is a Galway based cartoonist with a smörgåsbord of interests including visual art, music, technology and politics, and has always wanted to use smörgåsbord in a sentence. He also blogs at Caricatures Ireland.

7 Responses to The Taoiseach has no clothes and RTE has no balls: the Brian Cowen Nude Caricature

  1. Lottie says:

    As Green of Eye said “Y’know what? I want an apology from RTE for issuing an apology to Cowen. “

    Such bullshit. And I just heard Ray D’Arcy on Today Fm announce the name of the Artist who contacted their show previously with another image.

    Ray went on to say that the Gardaí were in their offices demanding documents and the name of the Artist which Today FM refused to give (well it’s out now) and they were informed that a warrant would be obtained.

    Apparently their are talks of bringing charges for Criminal Damage. Don’t the government and the Gardaí have better things to do with their time and tax payers money?

    Grr. Argh!

  2. Darren Byrne says:

    I am ashamed of RTE. The report was inoffensive, unbiased and lighthearted, and then they apologised for it???

    I would like RTE to explain this cowardly move.

  3. TheChrisD says:

    Makes me even more glad I don’t bother watching the news. Let alone much of the TV at all!

  4. Fiona says:

    NGGGGGGG! Well said and well drawn. The emperor has no clothes, but nobody’s supposed to say anything. I am livid.

  5. Alfie says:

    excellent, keep it coming, they sooner realise that they are not above censure the better,The office of the Taoiseach has no gravitas, not since the great corrupter .[Haughy] held the office. and its gone down hill since. They dont listen to reason, so satire might through to them, keep up the good work.

  6. Green Of Eye says:

    My letter of complaint to:complaints@rte.ie

    To whom it may concern,
    I am writing to express my utter disgust regarding the apology that was issued to Brian Cowen and his family after RTE ran a story about anonymously donated nude paintings of Mr. Cowen. The story was legitimate, based in fact and in my opionion the coverage shown was in no way disrespectful to the Taoiseach. It was not done in a jokey or insulting matter, you merely presented the story as it stood. By running the piece RTE expressed the opinion that it was deemed fit for broadcast. News organisations such as the BBC and papers such as The Guardian, The Times, The Tribune and countless others have also reported it. I have yet to see any of the above bodies issuing a statement of apology for covering a piece of news. RTE’s credibilty lies in tatters after this incident.

    It’s not about the incident involving the paintings anymore. It’s about how a national broadcasting body apologised, completely unnecessarily in my opinion, to a politician and his family for “any embarrassment caused” by a piece of news. The so called freedom of press is meaningless after you issued the apology on air and amended the RTE website, removing any images and printing a retraction at the top of the page. I am a taxpayer. I have always paid for a TV license when in possession of a television. Whilst it’s generally acknowledged that the media will, in some shape edit or vet the information it broadcasts; it’s a different ballgame when RTE back down and allow political interference with a news item.

    How dare you spoon-feed the masses information that only the government and it’s officials deem suitable. Are we living in a nanny state where we are discouraged from thinking for ourselves, and where any expression of dissatisfaction regarding how government officials are performing unsatisfactorily is discouraged. Seemingly so. Is this the way information will be distributed in future? The government are terrified of being portrayed in a negative light hence RTE won’t run any items which may question or offend the government? Should we just remain quiet and unquestioningly watch reruns of fair city whilst the country continues to fall to pieces?

    The paintings themselves are satire.The Taoiseach may find it in his interest to learn the meaning of the word:
    1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
    2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
    If he’d had the sense to take the incident with a pinch of salt or in good humour; the chances are that it would have been forgotten in a few days.

    If it’s a case of one person and their family being offended by the information reported and managing to get an apology from the national broadcaster; then my family, friends and i are also grossly offended by the way the situation was handled and demand an apology featured on the 9 o’clock news- I want an apology for your apology to Mr Cowen.

    There’s a reason why someone took the time to paint those pictures and then hang them in 2 different galleries for public view. The government / F.Fail / Mr. Cowen are more concerned with stamping out any negative press than they are with dealing with the major economic issues. A lot of people in Ireland are unhappy with the way the government are doing things and we are entitled to voice these opinions. RTE, as “our” national broadcaster are entitled to run a news item without fear of political interferance. Shame on RTE for bowing down to Cowen.

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