Martin Hannan, a journalist at The National, has admitted that parts of his profession were responsible for covering up the facts about what happened to Rangers in the closing part of the Murray era and as they approached liquidation in 2012.
He has also said that if the Supreme Court tax case verdict goes against Murray that it should re-open the debate on title stripping, as Rangers will have been found to have cheated the rest of Scottish football for years.
Whilst it’s impossible not to laud the second sentiment, the first part of his article is the one many online are having trouble with tonight.
He freely admits that many parts of the media in this country actively concealed and conspired on the clubs behalf whether out of fear, obligation, loyalty or, astonishingly, due to coercion from editors and then goes on to defend them anyway!
He makes crude, specious comparisons with the bloggers and repeats an already debunked notion, that the media is somehow prohibited from writing facts in a way in which we’re not.
I do this for a living, just like he does.
I frequently crawl out on the limb with things I write, whereas people in his profession often don’t.
Is this because I enjoy some special protection that is not open to him? Of course it isn’t; on the contrary, the bloggers don’t have the legal apparatus behind us which is available to a writer on a national title. Yet we often go where they don’t have the bottle to go.
Are we to be talked down to for that? Well Hell no.
He doesn’t have the right, especially in an article where he’s holding up his hands and admitting a good sized chunk of his own profession is made up of jellyfish.
When we make mistakes we own them in a way the hacks never will.
Example; this afternoon I published a piece on Matthew Knox and the Daily Record offering “advice” to Kieran Tierney that he should quit Celtic Park. I suggested that maybe the player should focus on his own career and let Kieran worry about his, and that the paper should stop stirring, which this obviously was. Tonight, it seems that the player may have been misquoted. I say “may” because although I’m no longer convinced that the Record’s article stands up I’ve got no actual proof (except a ton of prior precedent) that it doesn’t.
But I’ve amended my own piece accordingly, to reflect my belief.
I think, on balance, The Record has probably put words in his mouth.
I know for a fact they’ve played on his age and naivety to generate the headline they wanted.
It was a trap, which Knox and his people walked right into.
Say what you like about them for doing so but the paper operates at a level lower than a snakes belly and deserves nothing but contempt. This episode should be a cautionary tale to anyone who talks to that particular rag, and it should have been obvious what agenda they were pursuing with their line of questioning.
The mere mention of the word “Celtic” in any interview which isn’t concerned with us should set antennae twitching like a diarrhetic arse.
This looked like a put-up job from the first, which I said in the unamended piece.
This is what we’ve come to expect, though.
This is the sterling level of the people Hannan defends.
But he has, at least, tackled the issue of media corruption in this case in his piece, even if he absolves many of them for their sins. He’s also gone where others won’t and stated the plain and simple facts about EBT use and the way it changes the game if they are found to have been illegal.
But really, he’s telling us nothing we didn’t already know.
Hannan has another problem; he talks about the media as the true guardians of sporting integrity.
I’ll let you laugh for a moment; believe me, I did.
This notion would be unsupportable garbage – see the mountain of evidence to the contrary – even if he himself were squeaky clean in this regard, but a notorious article by his own hand, from 2015, shows how little the concept actually means to those who work in the Scottish sports media.
In the article, entitled “Give King a chance to help end Celtic’s rule” he stretches truth until the elastic snaps, makes wholly unsupportable assertions about the “return of Rangers” being for the betterment of the game and, at the core of it, begs the SFA to overlook its own rules and let King become the chairman of Sevco in spite of his shady past, which Hannan waves away as if it was nothing with the line “Since he has settled his tax debts in South Africa …” without bothering to mention that the “settlement” was a guilty plea to tax fraud and was reached as an alternative to him spending 82 years in jail.
Most laughable of all is the following glib paragraph:
“The fear is that if they don’t, then King will rein in his millions – and believe me, he has oodles of them – which will prolong Rangers’ woes and mean they won’t be able to challenge Celtic for, say, a decade or so. That would not be good for Scottish football, including the national squad.”
Let’s start from the back; what the Hell does letting Dave King take over at Sevco mean to the Scottish national team? The sum total of nil, that’s what. What a ridiculous assertion that is, thrown in there to turn this into an emotional appeal – “Think of the country!” – on a premise which has no basis whatsoever in reality.
And those “oodles” of millions King is alleged to have … you can see he did some real investigative work there, can’t you? Another assertion based on who knows what, and which taken at its most literal was his way of saying “Ignore the rules, this guy has money!”
So what was Hannan’s excuse when he wrote that one?
Was he overcome with love for the Ibrox institution, scared of the wrath of King or forced to write such guff at the behest of an editor or publisher?
Or did he simply swallow, whole, the PR narrative of the time?
Either way, you know what? He doesn’t get to lecture anybody.
His article today didn’t impart any new information; it told us what we already know about the press here, but he was offering those things in mitigation instead of as the condemnation which his colleagues richly deserved. His attack on the bloggers was spiteful and reeks of bitterness at seeing us consistently embarrass the profession to which he belongs, without a fraction of the legal protection he enjoys or the resources he and they command.
And I’m sorry, but it’s why the blogs are thriving as the old media is dying.