Press Council rejects complaint of criticism in the handling of George Hook controversy 3 years ago

Press Council rejects complaint of criticism in the handling of George Hook controversy

An article was published by The Irish Times on 12 September 2017 criticising the organisation for their handling of the situation.

The Press Council of Ireland has rejected a complaint made by media company Communicorp about an article in The Irish Times which criticised the organisation in how it handled the controversy surrounding George Hook.

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Veteran radio presenter George Hook found himself in a media frenzy back in September 2017 when his controversial comments about rape were aired on his show High Noon on Newstalk.

Speaking on his radio show, Mr Hook said: "But when you then look deeper into the story you have to ask certain questions. Why does a girl who just meets a fella in a bar go back to a hotel room?," Hook said.

"She's only just barely met him. She has no idea of his health conditions, she has no idea who he is, no idea what dangers he might pose.

"But is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger? You then of course read that she passed out on the toilet and when she woke up the guy was trying to rape her.

"There is personal responsibility because it's your daughter and my daughter."

Hook was subsequently suspended from Newstalk last September after his comments drew widespread condemnation.

Communicorp is a Denis O'Brien-owned media organisation which runs a number of the country's well-known radio stations including Newstalk, Today FM and Spin 1038.

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An article was written about Hook's comments and Communicorp's involvement in his suspension in the Irish Times on 12 September 2017 by Fintan O'Toole entitled “Why I won’t be appearing on Newstalk any more” in which O'Toole referenced Hook's comments as a representation of the "station’s flagrantly sexist strategy."

Communicorp complained that the article was a breach of Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy), Principle 2 (Distinguishing Fact and Comment), Principle 3 (Fair Procedures and Honesty) and Principle 4 (Respect for Rights) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.

The organisation went on to argued the article was “fundamentally flawed and poorly researched.” However, The Irish Times stood over the article mentioning that the piece represented the opinions of the writer and “appeared on a page with large opinion heading”.

Newstalk’s managing editor at the time Patricia Monahan responded to the piece by An article was written defending the station, calling O’Toole’s article “an outrageously unfair attack”.

After a referral from the Press Ombudsman, the Press Council of Ireland convened a sub-committee to look into the case.

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An article was written, the sub-committee then judged that The Irish Times’ publication of a right to reply “represented sufficient remedial action on its part to resolve the matter”.

Hook has since returned to Newstalk, hosting with a new weekly show entitled Hook’s Saturday Sit-In from 8am till 10am every Saturday.