Enda Kenny’s Speech at White House: The Global Media Response

Jessica Hergert is a junior at Rider University. She is currently studying abroad at Griffith College and interning with Olytico through the CAPA study abroad programme.

On March 16th 2017, Taoiseach Enda Kenny met with President Donald Trump at the White House for the first time since Trump’s inauguration. In the six years since Kenny’s election as Taoiseach in 2011, he has come to America each March to celebrate the historical connection between Irish and American values.

This year, Kenny’s speech focused on the importance of Irish immigration in America, and the history between the two countries. The speech was quickly picked up by traditional and social media across the globe.  At Olytico, we analysed the the reaction online in the 48 hours following Kenny’s speech.


Highlights and Key Figures:

  • Over 4,000 articles have been published pertaining to the speech.
  • Over 1,600 publications covered the story within 48 hours after the speech was delivered.
  • The story appeared in publications in 66 countries including: the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, France and India.
  • Coverage of the speech appeared in leading publications all over the world such as America-based publications like The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The New York TimesUSA Today and The Washington Post; American-run news stations such as CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC and FOX; and international publications such as Le Monde.fr and The Indian Express.

While the story was covered by Irish publications such as The Irish Times, Irish Examiner and The Irish Sun, Ireland only represented 4% of the total articles published. The United States published over half the total number of articles pertaining to Kenny’s speech.


Social Media Reaction:

In addition to the prolific print coverage this story received, the two-minute video clip of Kenny delivering the speech acquired a large number of views, shares, comments and reactions on social media. When we began our analysis of the social media reaction to the speech, we focused on the combination of Enda Kenny and Donald Trump as keywords.
However, we quickly realised that for many people sharing the story, it was the speech that people referred to, and often the word Kenny or Trump didn’t appear. We added phrases such as “Irish PM”, “Irish Prime Minister” and “St. Patrick was an immigrant” and found a much wider base of content about the speech.

Between March 16th and 20th, we analysed over 130,000 tweets mentioning the speech. However, it continues to be shared and discussed on Twitter, with the total number now well over 150,000 and continuing to rise.

As impressive as the reach was on Twitter, Facebook contributed significantly to the spread of the story, and in particular the video views.

  • Facebook videos were widely shared by various news organizations and media sources:
    • Channel 4 News posted and subtitled the video. It received over 30 million views, 226 thousand reactions and 16 thousand comments. The video was shared almost half a million times.
    • Moveon.org, an “independent progressive advocacy group,” shared the video as well acquiring almost 3.5 million views, 47 thousand reactions and 2.7 thousand comments.
    • NowThis Politics, a popular news media source on Facebook, received more than 10.5 million views of its video of the speech. The clip was shared nearly 95,000 times, had 110 thousand reactions and was commented on 6,000 times.
  • America based news channels shared the video on Facebook as well. CNN.com’s video received about 1,500,000 views, 14,000 shares, 54 thousand reactions and 2.2 thousand comments. USA Today’s video had around 270,000 views, more than 13,000 shares and 18 thousand reactions.
  • As always, Twitter was the hotspot of real-time coverage. In the 48 hours following Kenny’s speech, the video clip began circulating.
  • Joe Scarborough, NBC News Senior Political Analyst and Host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, retweeted the video clip adding his own comments on the speech. His tweet received nearly 1,800 retweets and over 5,500 likes.

  • CNN’s Twitter page posted the video directly to their page, acquiring 1,100 retweets and nearly 3,500 likes.
  • Interestingly, Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, received very high numbers of retweets and likes despite not posting the video of the speech. Tribe’s tweet about his thoughts on the speech had more than 2,600 retweets and 7,000 likes.


Enda Kenny will not be the last Irish Prime Minister to visit the White House on St. Patrick’s Day. However, it’s likely based on recent events that it will be his last visit as Taoiseach. Based on the global media reaction and the reach on social media, his visit in 2017 – and his speech – will be referenced for many years to come.

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