Businessman and two time presidential candidate Seán Gallagher says he would not have taken legal action against RTÉ over the Frontline debate if it hadn't been nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award the following year.
Mr Gallagher sued the national broadcaster after he was confronted live on television with allegations about his fundraising activities for Fianna Fáil.
He had been leading in the 2011 race, but after voters saw the presidential debate on Frontline, support for him plummeted.
He received €130,000 in 2017 in a settlement, as well as some funds towards his legal expenses, believed to be a similar amount.
Mr Gallagher says before the debate in which an unverified tweet was read out to him, he was "almost unstoppable" in the polls.
Speaking to Life and Leadership, he said he would not have taken legal action had RTÉ not submitted the programme for an IFTA, "knowing, some of them at least, that it was founded on a fake tweet".
Recounting that debate, Mr Gallagher said: "My whole philosophy that night was 'stay calm, you're representing the country, you want to be presidential, you don't want to get down and dirty into a conflict'."
"And so I did, and then this famous tweet came in."
"It wasn't even that it was unverified. I mean, ultimately it was from a fake account and it was a fake tweet."
He added: "I was caught trying to answer and recall live on television with a million people watching me."
"Nobody is coming on a white horse to save you, it's up to you to make the life you want" - @seangallagher1's advice to his younger self.@bobbykerr and Seán talk about Life and Leadership and revisit that controversial presidential debate in 2011.
With thanks to @Amundi_ENG
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) March 13, 2023
He believes that the indication he had an affiliation with Fianna Fáil, a party that "screwed the country", was extremely damaging.
"My biggest argument was - and this is where the whole court case came out of - that the production team knew thirty minutes before the end of the programme that the tweet was fake and they could've clarified it, but they let me sink", he said.
It was only when Mr Gallagher sued that this piece of information came to light.
He added: "I'm not blaming anybody. It is what it is. That's politics."
Of his election loss, Mr Gallagher said: "People often say to me, you know, 'do you regret going?'. No I do not. I never have any regrets about anything I try and do."
"While I didn't succeed ultimately at the end, you know, I got over 500,000 first preference votes from people who believed in my message and in me, even despite the mess of the Frontline programme."
He says a presidential race "should not be about personalities", but that the 2018 election included "nasty" campaigning, and "unnecessarily so".
Listen back to the full conversation here.
Main image shows businessman Seán Gallagher after a presidential debate on RTÉ in 2018. Picture by: Clodagh Kilcoyne/REUTERS/Alamy