Yesterday the Michael Stewart saga took another twist when a national newspaper said that he his issues with the BBC still haven’t been resolved and that talks continue to make sure that his “breach of their editorial standards” wasn’t to be repeated.
It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, this does, and not only because Stewart is an intelligent, articulate man who’s heated exchange on Jim Traynor might have got a couple of facts wrong but was essentially right on the money.
The question many of us want the answers to is this; what are these so-called editorial standards which Stewart refuses to meet?
We all have long memories of what the BBC editorial standards are.
Look back more than a year for one sterling example, the Tom English “interview” with Kris Boyd from October 2018, where the ex-Ibrox striker was allowed to spread lies about the splits inside the Celtic dressing almost unchallenged. I say almost because English asked him how he knew this.
“Ah joost dae,” Boyd said.
And incredibly, that was good enough for the BBC, who aired the interview with that segment in it to an explosion of headlines about our club which had no one iota of truth to them.
Did we get an apology? Of course not.
What’s almost worse is that the part where Boyd lied about Celtic was the high point of the piece, which was a ludicrous bit of fan-boy gushing which, amongst things, asked him probing questions about his dogs and at the end of which English incredibly confessed that he had “dreamed about Boyd” the night the interview was complete.
It was a different Boyd English turned on in August last year, when he had a go at our Celtic TV star and former captain, Tom Boyd, after he had questioned John Beaton’s performance in a game. Not only did English refer to our ex-player as “a bit of a blowhard” but then twisted the words not only of Boyd himself but a statement from Celtic to suggest that Boyd had called Beaton a cheat and that our club had endorsed that view.
Did Boyd get an apology? Did Celtic? Of course not.
The BBC used to have no problem sticking Chris Graham on the telly of an evening.
It has not done any soul-searching as to its so-called integrity in having EBT recipients working on shows whilst issues relating to that scandal were being discussed.
When Peter Lawwell is the subject of speculation and discussion on its shows does its staff refrain from offering their insights because he’s not in the studio to defend himself?
They’ve done it a million times.
And did he ever receive an apology for it? Of course not.
In place of Stewart, they had Malky Mackay in the studio the other night; this is a guy whose career in the wider game is pretty near over because of messages he sent.
Let’s peruse some of them, so we can understand this properly.
Mackay called one guy a “gay snake”, lamented the absence of white faces on a list of transfer targets, referred to an agent as “a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers”, called his own chairman Vincent Tan “a chink” and tweeted a picture of “Black Monopoly” where every square said Go To Jail.
Amongst other things.
The BBC clearly has no issue with these matters any more than the SFA does … his position at Hampden is a flat-out disgrace for which everyone up there should be heartily ashamed. The BBC does not mind at all putting a man such as this on the air.
With all this in mind, I’m moved to wonder just what are these “editorial standards” which the BBC wants Stewart to both acknowledge and agree to before he’s put back on the air?
To me, and to many others, this sounds an awful lot like he’s being told that there are things he can’t talk about and people whose names he can’t mention, things he can’t scrutinise and folk he can’t criticise.
It sounds like the BBC wants its own employee on a leash lest he says something that might cause offence somewhere.
Not only is it gutless but it’s corrupt.
I want Michael Stewart back on the air as much as I’m sure he wants to be back on the air, but not at that price, not at the cost of his integrity.
Because he has much more of that than those sitting in judgement of him.