Because of my journalism in Russia, which doesn’t toe the standard western line, US state media is fond of smearing me.
To make things worse, the attacks are usually anonymous and normally come from side projects of RFE/RL, which began as a CIA cut-out.
I have tried to contact their press office (and those of Voice of America and the parent Broadcasting Board of Governors). However, they never do anything. Which stands in contrast to the exceptionally professional press office of RT.
The personal attacks usually centre around two things.
- They say I am using a false name. This is not true.
- They allege I had no track record in journalism before coming to Russia, or that I embellished it. Which is also a falsehood.
Allow me to first address the name issue. While my name is spelt Brian McDonald on my birth certificate, I have been published as “Bryan MacDonald” for 21 years. Since I first began writing for the Carlow Nationalist, while still at school.
There is a perfectly valid reason for this. Ireland is a tiny country, with only 6.7 million people on the island and 4.9 million in the “Republic.”
When I was a teenager (and the population of the south was only 3.6 million), there was a very famous journalist in Ireland called “Brian McDonald.” He was the western correspondent of the Irish Independent (the best selling daily paper in the country, both then and now) and was on national radio practically every day. I quickly realised that I would be confused with him, which would dilute my “brand.” So I slightly altered the spelling of my name to a more British-style rendering. I don’t have a second name, as it happens, so adding that wasn’t an option either.
There was nothing cynical about it, nor was I trying to deceive anyone. And it’s not like I became “Elton John” or “Mary Tyler Moore” or something. This was a practical issue only. And one that proved very smart a few years later. Because guess what? I ended up working for the same newspaper as Brian! And got to know him a little. Imagine the confusion if there’d been two “Brian McDonald’s” billed in the Irish Independent?
US state media’s anonymous attacks focus on this “issue” as if it’s some kind of proof that I am a “Russian spy” or a person with something to hide. I am neither. Incidentally, Colm O’Gorman, a George Soros funded lobbyist in Ireland, also tried to use this in a Twitter assault only last week. But it’s a giant nothing-burger, with a very innocent explanation, as I have outlined.
Now, to the second part. Unfortunately, Irish newspapers (with the exception of the Irish Times) came late to the internet. In fact, some even today don’t have an online reach! Alas, when I wrote for the Carlow Nationalist, The Weekender, the Evening Herald, The Irish Independent, Ireland On Sunday and the Irish Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, they either didn’t have websites or they had half-baked ones. And the Dubliner magazine, where I published a lot of stuff, went to the wall, after the great 2008 financial crash.
The last time I was at home in Ireland I took photos of some old articles my late mother kept for me, so I am going to post some of them here. This will prove that US state media is lying, using baseless slander. It’s also very tiresome.
These are from the Evening Herald in the year 2000, when I had a daily column called “Dubliner’s Diary.” And yes that is me pictured with the singer Ronan Keating in the last one… don’t ask.
Now for a few news stories from that era:
Shortly after this, with my “cub” reporter days behind me, I decided to move a bit “up-market.” So, I began writing for the semi-literary “The Dubliner” magazine. I will add screengrabs from that the next time I am back in Ireland. Because I definitely have old issues stacked away someplace.
Next, I hooked up with the late great Paul Drury at “Ireland On Sunday.” He, along with Paul Donaghy (RIP), was my biggest mentor in journalism.
If you are thinking that Ireland On Sunday’s page layout was very similar to that of Britain’s Mail On Sunday, you’d be right. Because it had the same owner: Associated Newspapers. Something which I found amusing because IOS (as it was known) had started as an Irish nationalist-leaning operation.
In late 2006, the bosses decided to retire the title and renamed it “The Irish Mail On Sunday.” I continued to write for it. And we became a seven-day operation with the launch of an Irish edition of The Daily Mail. There I wrote news, features and dairy stuff (I used to re-write the Richard Kay column for an Irish audience, for instance). Also, at some point, editor Philip Nolan, in his wisdom, decided to make me the theatre critic!
I always wanted to be a journalist. I am not an academic, nor did I come to Russia with an agenda. And if I moved on from this beat, I reckon I could do a job in any form of journalism, from sports (where I actually started) to politics or, god forbid, lifestyle.
This separates me from the vast majority of Russia focussed hacks, who have no track record in journalism in their home countries. And it’s also why US state media’s smears are completely ludicrous.
I will update this post when I am next back in Ireland. Thanks for reading.