Whenever I take a couple of days off this site, there are two things guaranteed to happen; the first is that I will re-appear at some stage to write something instead of taking it easy and the other is that it’ll be during those days that a bizarre story pops up which I have to wait to tackle, although I’m itching to get stuck into it right away.
This is one of the ones I missed, and one of the ones I knew I would have to revisit; the bizarre story of the Aaron Mooy article which appeared online, at The Record, under Gavin Berry’s name, only to vanish like the proverbial fart in the wind.
The story claimed that Ibrox made a late bid for him, with Van Bronckhorst himself leaving several messages on the answering machine of the player’s agent.
That story definitely existed. There are screenshots of it everywhere. Berry wrote it, published it, and then someone pulled it and no-one has commented on it since. Why did Berry pull it? Because it was wrong information … or because he was told to?
We’ll get back to that in a minute. It’s an important one.
This happened days ago and the story seemed to have died. But an odd thing took place today; Alex McLeish claims to have heard “whispers” of an Ibrox interest in the player. He’s not the only one. Those whispers have been doing the rounds.
Is that what Berry heard? His information seems a lot more specific than that.
If Berry had that story, and if he had it cold, then why did it get a pull? Because let’s not kid ourselves, that’s a scoop and a half and any journalist would be delighted with it and they would be right to be. That story would have trended like crazy on social media and would have gotten the guy a lot of brownie points for putting it out there.
He knows all this, of course, which is why he did it in the first place.
If the story didn’t collapse because it wasn’t solid, then just what happened to it? Clearly someone above Berry’s head would have had to have taken the decision to spike it. What force could motivate a national title to bury a legitimate piece of news?
I think we’re entitled to speculate. And I think, furthermore, that in light of the BBC’s embarrassing and humiliating climb-down to Ibrox in the same week we’re entitled to be concerned about it. More than that, it brings into sharp focus the consequences of Ibrox’s media policy; if you’re paying for access to those sort of events you are, by virtue of that, compromised and obviously restricted in what you can say or publish.
Look, the minute you write that cheque you’re saying “we need you more than you need us.” And if the results of writing something that their club doesn’t like is that your organisation’s access gets revoked, you lose both the money and what it was supposed to pay for. You reveal yourself to be in a position of desperate weakness.
If the media’s coverage of the sport here is now essentially being dictated by one club, that’s a problem. If they can pick up the phone to an editor and express their disapproval with a factual story, and have it killed, that’s bigger than whether Van Bronckhorst called an agent and pleased with his player to sign for their club instead of ours.
That’s something we should all be concerned about. Their media policy creates a serious credibility issue for everyone who signed up to it … you are leaving your objectivity at the door, and for a journalist that has to be soul destroying.
Amendment; If as some have suggested, this was an internet hoax then of course the central question at the heart of this piece is answered; we, on the other hand, will not be removing this piece as a result. The central question may be resolved but the issue of Ibrox charging money to media outlets for access remains current, and problematic, and corrupting. And we’re not in the business of removing articles anyway … that, after all, is the point of the piece in the first place.