The Brian Cowen Interview: The Global Media Response

Brian Cowen In Studio

15th September 2010 O’Leary Analytics has published analysis today which shows the huge media interest in the Brian Cowen Interview with 457 articles published in less than 24 hours. At 8:50am on Tuesday 14th September 2010, Taoiseach Brian Cowen was interviewed by Cathal Mac Coille on Morning Ireland. The interview took place in the Ardilaun Hotel on the second day of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party conference. Over the following 15 hours, the interview, and the performance of Mr Cowen during it, became an international news story.

O’Leary Analytics has analysed the coverage from over 128,000 news sources in over 200 countries in the 15 hours following the interview.

Country by Country Breakdown of International Coverage
Country by Country Breakdown of International Coverage

Key highlights of the analysis include:

  • The story has been appeared in publications in 26 countries including: USA, UK, India and China;
  • Over 400 publications have covered the story;
  • 457 articles were published by midnight on 14th September, less than 24 hours after the interview;
  • The coverage appeared in leading international publications including: Reuters; The Wall Street Journal; The New York Times; The Washington Post; Fox News; The Guardian; The BBC; The Huffington Post; Yahoo! Finance;
  • The coverage represented a 692% increase on the average daily coverage for Mr Cowen over the proceeding five days;
Brian Cowan Global Media Coverage Last 5 days
Brian Cowan Global Media Coverage Last 5 days

As the Taoiseach of Ireland, Mr Cowen is no stranger to publicity and media attention. On an average day, 60 articles are published online mentioning Mr Cowen, and for the most part, they relate to his political performances. Following the interview on Morning Ireland, however, this coverage spiked with 457 articles published yesterday.


O’Leary Analytics has also examined the level of coverage Mr Cowen generated in social media on the day of the interview. It revealed that there were:

  • 1,738 mentions of Mr Cowen in social media sources on the day;
  • Twitter was the most popular social media platform with over 1,600 Tweets published;
  • Simon Coveney’s initial Tweet was ReTweeted (republished word for word) by over 66 other Twitter accounts.
  • Mr Coveney was not the first person to suggest Mr Cowen was drunk or hungover during his interview – dozens of tweets were published while the interview was taking place questioning the performance of Mr Cowen and suggesting reasons for his performance.
Social Media Coverage of Brian Cowen Interview
Social Media Coverage of Brian Cowen Interview - split by platform - on Tuesday 14th September 2010


This research demonstrates that Irish political parties and Fianna Fáil specifically have failed to understand social media and it’s potential benefits and pitfalls. That the Taoiseach could be unaware of an incendiary tweet from a member of the opposition front bench indicates that Fainna Fáil does not monitor social media. Had the Taoiseach been aware of Deputy Coveney and others online comments about his early morning interview, he would surely have been prepared for questions from journalists as to whether he was drunk or hungover.

Simon Coveney Tweet
Simon Coveney's Initial Tweet


The lesson here for all political parties is that digital media is equally critical to their success or failure as traditional print and broadcast channels.

We live in an era of 24/7 news reporting, where a story can break at any given time during the day and can spread like wildfire due to the Internet. Companies, organizations, individuals, even governments are increasingly concerned about what is being said about them in real time. As a result they have to respond quickly because a story can evolve rapidly as we have seen in recent cases such as the Ivor Callely expenses scandal or the revelations surrounding Wayne Rooney. With regards to this story, it will be interesting to see how the global markets respond as our analysis shows this has become an international media issue

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