The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to clarify comments he made at an event in New York.
Varadkar was in the US to launch Ireland’s bid for a seat at the UN Security Council.
— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) July 2, 2018
Sources at the event say that Varadkar criticised the media saying it is one of the few issues he can sympathise with US President Donald Trump.
When asked about Trump’s attack on the media, Varadkar allegedly said the media was not interested in the truth but in the story.
General secretary of the NUJ Seamus Dooley has called on the Taoiseach to clarify his comments.
He said: “Respect for freedom of expression is a core value of the UN.
“Attributed comments are damaging to Ireland’s reputation as a modern democracy, given Trump’s views on press freedom.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the Taoiseach said: “The lunch, hosted by Ireland’s Consul General in New York, was a private event.
“Attendees included young Irish people based in New York working across a range of sectors, including media, finance and tech. They shared a wide-ranging discussion.
“This conversation is now being quoted selectively and out of context.
“The Taoiseach believes that a free, fair and balanced press is a cornerstone of our democracy.”
The Times and the Irish Times both reported that during a private event, Varadkar was particularly critical of the political press and claimed that journalists were more interested in gossip in Dáil Éireann than in the workings of the Government, describing their interest in whispers in the corridors.
The debate became heated when he criticised the investigative journalism as being incorrect, singling out RTÉ in particular.
When some guests pointed out the work of investigative journalists in the work they had done exposing Cambridge Analytica and Harvey Weinstein, he supposedly said that print media focuses on technology and social media companies because they were taking away their business.
One guest said Mr Varadkar’s comments were “very serious” and that they “came away really quite freaked out.”
“There was shock,” said another source describing the audience reaction to some to his remarks.
Trump has repeatedly attacked the press and accused major networks such as CNN of broadcasting “fake news”, saying that journalism is the “enemy” of the American people
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