This week we saw a number of beautiful examples of our media in full flight.
Of these things I think the Tierney coverage was the worst, but their lauding of the Romanians stuck in the throat in a big way.
Before I went on holiday last week, I marvelled at some of the coverage being handed out to Gerrard’s rag-bag mob.
I couldn’t handle reading such stomach churning guff about our club.
I’d wonder what the agenda was, and who was running who.
In a Gary Ralston article about how the Ibrox NewCo was gearing up for its “revenge match” against Progres – as though it would erase the previous time the two clubs met – he wrote the following, spectacular, lines of sycophantic guff.
“It was 50 years ago this weekend that Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Many (Ibrox) fans consider the astronaut’s step off Apollo 11 a mere stroll in the park in comparison to the strides (they) have made under Steven Gerrard in the last 13 months.”
You read that with eyes which bulge in disbelief, and you try to process it.
The Ibrox club’s progress is being compared to man walking on the moon?
We secured a third domestic treble in a row, and I cannot understand – and nor can any other Celtic fan – this celebration of mediocrity and failure. The Ibrox side won nothing last season. They finished one place higher in the league but were out of the cup competitions even earlier than in the season before and they spent a huge sum of money to get there.
And their manager had a win ratio of just 50% … lower than Warburton.
Lower than Caixinha.
Lower than Graeme Murty.
So what the Hell was Ralston talking about?
His historical analogy is stupid, but The Record has written worse.
Back in 2010, Neil Cameron, now at The Herald, where part of his job is to make sure Chris Jack submits factually accurate copy, wrote this incredible piece on the then still playing Davie Weir.
“Maurice Edu watched in astonishment as a working-class black man with a Muslim sounding name became president of his country. But while the rise of Barack Obama stunned this exiled American it’s nothing compared to the miracle he sees every day he works beside David Weir.”
Cameron, of course, is just as notorious.
His reaction to the official unveiling of Steven Gerrard at Ibrox was a piece that dripped with … I don’t even want to think about it.
“Before Gerrard graced us with his presence, the small but beautiful Ibrox suite resembled a wedding party waiting for the bride. An odd silence descended, none of us really knew what to do and there was an awful lot of cameras.”
Just the other day, The Daily Record declared Gerrard “the King of Scottish football” because he has the largest individual social media following in the game here.
Which he had when he arrived in Scotland.
The same article admitted that Celtic has the biggest social media following of any of the clubs.
That wasn’t the headline on the piece though.
This is the media which comments on our national sport, one massively distrusted and severely disliked by the supporters of this club.
It is the media which is assisting Arsenal in the campaign to unsettle Kieran Tierney and the media which provided cover to Dave King’s Ibrox board on a truly dark day for them by running nonsense about Alfredo Morelos and China.
You read stuff like that and it’s easy to see why we have such contempt. None of it tells even half the story. Over the course of time, the media has written some sensationally bad stuff about Celtic. We never get the kind of slavish treatment the Ibrox club does.
But nor would we want it. That stuff is dangerous.
Instead we get the kind of treatment that has caused the club to stop co-operating with newspapers, as was the case when the Daily Record ran its notorious “most hated man at Ibrox” headline; or which makes managers like Martin O’Neill resort to the courts; or where our squad are branded as “thugs and thieves” and our CEO is compared to Saddam Hussein.
Along the way, we’ve had players being targeted in their private lives, we’ve had the newspapers pushing conspiracy theories about our directors and, in recent months, we’ve had to endure the gut wrenching spectacle of certain outlets and writers quite plainly taking their cue from websites and individuals who are, to put it mildly, not amongst our friends.
The week before I went away, Cameron himself wrote a puff piece about his pal Hugh Keevins and the level of disrespect for the press that there is on social media.
He was talking in part about this site and others like it, sites which have taken on the task of scrutinising the media as part of our role.
Not one of our sites claims to be the “voice” of the Celtic support, because this support speaks in many voices.
But almost all of them are scathing about the media on a semi-regular basis, and this is because of everything from how we view their intentions towards our club to the way they cover (or don’t cover) major issues. Trust is at an all-time low.
I have to be honest and say I’ve think we’ve passed a point of no return here.
I cannot see how the mainstream press changes the current thinking of our support. Even when they are not playing games, even when they are writing the kind of stuff that Celtic fans need to know about our club, they are accused of pursuing agendas … rightly or wrongly.
That is how far down the line this is, and there’s no coming back from it.
A fortnight ago, a couple of Celtic fans on a forum decided to start a transfer rumour and see if they could get it to spike in the press, and of course it did. The Rumour Guy did a quick article on it, and spent the rest of the night kicking his cat. (Not really, or I hope not.)
But neither he nor the Celtic sites was the intended mark here, that was the press itself.
And it isn’t the first time this has happened either; about ten years ago or so a Celtic forum created an Ibrox reserve player out of thin air and in very short order got the pundits on Radio Clyde to rave about him and the good reports they had heard … reports whose existence was obviously as fictional as the player himself.
Nobody trusts them.
Nobody can count on their due diligence or investigatory skills and it is hard to see how they can change people’s minds.
They don’t break major stories anymore; when Keevins was asked, some years back, for his career highlight he didn’t talk about a massive exclusive, he talked about the time a doorman called Finbar O’Brannigan kicked him out of the Celtic Club in London Road before one of Kenny Dalglish’s famous press conferences.
They complain bitterly to this day about those sessions, accusing Dalglish of putting their safety at risk, as though a few hours spent in the presence of Celtic fans was hazardous.
They’d rather not focus on the reason the then Celtic boss organised those sessions in the first place; he was furious over the way the media constantly twisted his words and he wanted the conferences to take place where the fans could see and hear the truth of them.
He didn’t trust them either, and those managers who don’t arrive at Celtic with that distrust develop it very swiftly after checking in.
Almost all have departed with a healthy loathing for the hacks.
O’Neill’s was legendry, Strachan’s even more so. Mowbray and Deila felt they were hounded from the word go. Lennon was, and remains, a frequent target and hates many of them. Rodgers handled them with care, but I don’t think he ever really respected them or liked them much.
I get that part of this is the morphing between the news business and the entertainment business; that’s what a lot of journalism has become and it’s pretty much what the blogs are. The difference is, this is what we’re meant to be.
They are supposed to be impartial, informative, they are supposed to offer intelligence and insight … and they don’t.
Many are nakedly partisan.
Many of the newsrooms are populated by people who are utterly ignorant of the game they are supposed to be covering.
The proliferation of ex-players as pundits – and especially in Scotland where they all seem to come from two clubs, and where few are ringing the IQ bell with aplomb – only makes matters worse, because apart from bringing a legendry level of stupidity to their titles they also bring their biases as well.
Barry Ferguson is one case in point.
So, too, is Kris Boyd.
If Derek Johnstone hadn’t found himself a career in the media on the strength of bad jokes he would be going door to door selling stuff out of a suitcase.
None of these guys belongs in a media job.
None of them is remotely qualified for it.
None of them seems to understand the game they made a living in.
And all three are nakedly pre-disposed towards Ibrox, which colours every single thing they write and makes them impossible to take seriously as mere observers.
There are those in the newsrooms who simply cut and paste stuff from elsewhere, like Joel Sked at The Scotsman, whose main output seems to consist of mashing together various stories from around the internet and publishing them as “latest news.”
Very little of it is his own original work, and the stuff which does meet that standard doesn’t meet any other.
Poor standards have been with us for years.
The occasional transfer story isn’t going to change the course of football.
There are a handful of sports writers in Scotland who have actually given the boat a bit of a rocking, and I’m going to surprise you by saying that one of them is actually Keith Jackson, who’s Ibrox biases aside has broken a few good stories over the years and is not afraid to poke Dave King with a stick when he thinks he needs to.
Others, like Graham Spiers, bury themselves behind paywalls and what intellect and heft they could bring to Scottish football debate disappears with them. That guy could have been a genuine friend to the reform agenda over the years and he chose not to be.
And that’s worse; it’s the way the media in this country has tried to frame all debate within football, deciding what the real issues are and aren’t, as well as pushing naked untruths like the Survival and Victim Lies which really push the Celtic Family to fury.
One of the worst culprits of all is the national broadcaster itself, with a number of employees who are simply loathed by our supporters for a variety of reasons.
One of the worst is Tom English, whose contempt for anyone in the blogosphere and those who read us is well known and undisguised, although his own pronouncements and articles are often as daft and in denial of reality as those you will read anywhere else.
His most talked about segment of recent years was the slavish interview he did with Kris Boyd, which some of his own colleagues found too much to bear.
The BBC is seen by many Celtic fans as a wholly gutless organisation, the one we had hoped would tell the truth in 2012 and beyond and the one we expected to support genuine changes at the SFA and which should have been right behind Celtic’s call for an inquiry into all the events of those years and the preceding ones which caused such ructions in our sport.
Instead the BBC sided with the governing body.
They have refused to back our club.
They are ardent promoters of both the Victim and Survival lies … the twin supports on which so much of the negative stuff in our game still sits. Yet it is the Ibrox club, not Celtic, which broke off contact with them and continues to be at war with them to this day.
How can we trust that? How are we supposed to believe that when the chips are down we can count on anything the press say or do? We can’t, and we know we can’t.
This is the nine in a row season, and we know that we’re going to see a lot of drama in the coming campaign.
We know that another Ibrox operation is rotting from the inside.
We know this in spite of the press, not because of them.
We can imagine how the SFA will act as this season rolls on and the pressure on them steps up.
Celtic fans have the blogs. The rest of Scottish football operates in the dark. It is not just our fans who don’t trust the people in the press boxes, it’s all of us. This season our club has to be on its game to make sure that the nine in a row is secured.
But we do too, we in the blogosphere.
Because this season is different, and we know that we cannot trust the mainstream press to keep an eye on things.