Today, in the United States, Donald Trump praised a US Congressman who assaulted a Guardian reporter during the 2016 election. The President of the United States stood in front of a pack of baying supporters and actually endorsed a physical attack on a journalist.
It has drawn condemnation from across the spectrum; even the buffered and beleaguered Theresa May took time out from screwing the country up to say that violence against journalists is “completely unacceptable.”
The statement doesn’t mention Trump directly, of course, but this is as close as this country usually comes to giving him a verbal skelp around the ear.
American political discourse has greatly suffered as a result of Trump’s election.
This is a man who has given his support to abusers and thugs and got cosy with dictators and sought the support of white supremacists. The global media goes through periods where it is frankly appalled by him and the words that come out of his mouth.
And yet, we in Scotland hear stuff just like it every single day.
The difference is, over there journalists stand up against those vile sentiments … which is why Trump was so happy that one of them was beaten up for it. He recognises that good journalism is a threat to vested interests and his own power.
You know how much time he spends thinking about those in the profession over there who don’t challenge him? None.
Because those cowards have already been neutered or bought off.
God Help us all if our own hacks ever have to be responsible for “telling truth to power”, the sort that can make life or death decisions. We’ll be in a bad way.
Since this season began, we’ve read apologia for football fans being stabbed, for sectarian chanting, for jokes about dementia and songs about child abuse, we’ve been treated to a poisonous witch-hunt against local politicians over a failed Fanzone project, we’ve had a man who beat his girlfriend in a public street in December last year described in glowing terms as if this kind of conduct was quite common and perfectly acceptable.
Hatred is howling out of press releases and oozing out of press conferences.
Conspiracy theories abound. The nuttiest ideas get a fair hearing. The most reprehensible conduct is excused and explained away.
We saw another example of it today, with Steven Gerrard’s press conference.
During it, he poured honey all over his “hero” Paul Gascoigne. He is not the first these last few weeks to have done so. But he is the first to have gone beyond praising the Geordie ned as a footballer in so public a way. He actually praised “Gazza” as “a man.”
And that is a statement only Trump himself would have been proud of.
Look, people are entitled to argue that, as a footballer, he deserves to be honoured.
I disagree with that, because he was in Glasgow for only three seasons and the last wasn’t all that good. But they can make the case that as a global football icon it might be right to recognise him, although I’d argue that if he’s that much of icon they surely don’t need to bother.
But nobody should be holding him up as a “model professional” because he wasn’t.
He wasted much of his talent by not taking his fitness seriously and by leading a chaotic off-field life.
He frequently behaved like a ned on the park.
And it is absolutely indefensible for anyone to stand up for “Gascoigne the man” as Gerrard has done today.
That is a Trump style defence of a misogynist, racist, sectarian and serial abuser of women.
If that is Gerrard’s idea of a man it’s no wonder he had no problem with his club signing Jon Flanagan.
I doubt that any other manager in the country would have got away with making such a statement.
I wonder what Gerrard’s own wife – his own daughter – would make of it?
For the media to allow that is simply disgraceful.
Was there not a single person at the press conference today who was troubled by that remark, and will come out and say so?
The issues here are very simple and they’ve always been very simple; the kind of person who has been accused of such a vile litany of offences is unworthy of the kind of public support that this clown has been given over the past few weeks.
Why is it that only Jim Spence and a handful of others have actually been able to comprehend this and say it out loud?
Gascoigne’s one value as a role model is as a shining example of how not to behave. He is the cautionary tale. He is the big red warning sign for any young person starting out in the game, a game full of genuine, actual, real-life professional’s kids can aspire to be like. Gerrard’s comments today are a danger to the development of those young players and the media should have challenged him on that basis alone.
I appreciate that there are a lot of debates in Scottish football that stray into “grey areas” but this one is surely black and white; I know Sevco fans are going to use their home-game semi-final at Hampden – they just found out their allocation is to be 32,000 ticket; double that of Aberdeen – to pay tribute to the wife beating bigot, but that’s their prerogative. When a manager does this that is surely something the media should be questioning.
What a disgrace they are to have remained so silent today.
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