When Donald Rumsfeld went before the media in February 2002, few amongst the press corps could have imagined they were going to go away with one of the most quotable quotes of the last 20 years. As time has gone by, the mockery which initially greeted his words has abated.
He was making a complicated argument, and he found a way to get his point across.
“There are known knowns,” he said. “There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
A less famous, but also less wordy, Harry Truman quote is equally interesting; “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”
Keep those quotes in mind as we go through the rest of the month, and into August.
Keep them in mind when you read the media’s coverage of the Grand Opening at Sevco’s new superstore and the trumpeting of their glorious deal with the two-man band from Liverpool.
If we take Sevco’s word for it the garden is rosy and everything’s grand.
Who the Hell, though, would simply take their word for it?
Well, our media would for openers. We know that. If someone at Ibrox said the sky was green and the grass was blue there are folk like Gary Ralston who would print that as if it was fact, without giving it the once over of looking out the window.
The press has largely accepted the narrative on the Castore deal and how it impacts on Ashley and the agreement he had at Ibrox, but in about a week the club is due to open its store and the sales of stuff online is about to kick into gear.
If you listen carefully, the two organisations are contradicting each other.
If we were relying on the press we’d never get to the bottom of it.
Fortunately, the mainstream media aren’t the only people who are doing the listening, and the watching, here.
A lot of the bloggers have their eyes on this, including Phil, who not only spoke to people inside the Ashley operation, but got a lawyer friend to look over some of the other details. There can be little doubt that something about this just isn’t right.
It has long been the suspicion of the bloggers that Sevco is playing games, and daring Ashley and his team to take this to the next level. I believe they’ve looked at the backlog of cases in the courts too and calculated that they can get away with all this.
They are wrong to think this wouldn’t be quick. They would be insane to think Ashley will do walking away. Castore have probably stumbled into this unawares. They were looking for a client at the same time as Sevco was looking for a manufacturer.
If Gerrard didn’t know these guys, they might never have found each other.
But no-one had time for due diligence.
Both of these parties are flying blind, and whether they know it or not so are the Sevco fans.
Because there are things we know we know, which is that their club has lied to them about this before.
There are things we know we don’t know, such as what exactly Sevco told Castore about Ashley’s part in all this.
And there are unknown unknowns too, those things we don’t know we don’t know and which will almost certainly not be to Sevco’s benefit.
He’s posed the question every journalist should have been asking; someone is lying here, but who? We are all pretty sure that it’s the Ibrox board, and indeed from what Phil has heard from inside the Ashley empire there are legal threats being made left, right and centre.
Injunctions are said to be in the offing. This is no minor matter.
He has been excellent on this, producing three outstanding stories on it already this week, and making a number of critical points here. This is what good journalism should do.
Not that we see many examples of it here in Scotland; once again, it’s taken an NUJ member based across the water to give this the scrutiny it deserves.
The two parties involved can’t get their own story straight for two minutes.
This site has already talked about the way in which Castore inadvertently confirmed that Ashley has a role in the sales side. Just this week, Sevco issued one statement and Castore another and they were not exactly a perfect match.
The Ibrox club said their kit would be available through Castore’s own outlets; the company itself has expressly denied that this is the case.
Why hasn’t the media? It’s a question with an easy answer.
As with the Tory Government and the possibility of Russian collusion in the Brexit referendum, they don’t ask questions to which they don’t want to know the answers.
God forbid they should learn something; then they might actually have to act on it and risk people in their own house being upset.
Yet we on the outside all know that something here stinks.
We also know that we’re not going to get all the answers in August when the Sevco strips go on sale.
But here’s the thing about the unknown unknowns; as Rumsfeld said, we do know they are out there, and if the Sevco fans have any grasp on history at all they’ll know it too.
That should worry them more than it does.
Nothing seems to worry them though.
How nice it must be to live in a bubble like that.
The only trouble is; reality has a way of bursting through.
We may not know all the details, but we’re all pretty sure that when this one goes pop you’re going to hear it for miles.
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