Last week, an odd piece of paper was doing the rounds on some of the Celtic groups.
You might have seen it.
It was the reply to someone’s Freedom of Information request to the BBC asking the national broadcaster if they have paid Ibrox’s £25,000 fee to sit in at the press conferences. I wish I had grabbed that letter when I saw it.
What the reply basically says is that it’s not anyone’s business and the BBC reserves the right not to comment on that particular decision. Which should shock anyone who is interested in this matter and who pays a penny of the license fee.
The national broadcaster – which depends on your money and mine to operate at all – is telling us that it’s not our business how or on who that money is spent.
If they were being asked for someone’s salary, or to justify having someone on the payroll then you might say that this was an operational matter and it’s entirely up to them.
(Although if you’d had to listen to Neil McCann or Alan Hutton or one of the other assorted ex-Ibrox goons who have gigs there you might think their hiring practices in Scotland are questionable at best, and at worst toxic to their so-called “neutrality.”)
But really, I don’t see any defence for keeping secret a grubby arrangement such as this.
Because as this site has pointed out before, if you are a news organisation which is paying the people you are meant to cover for the “right” to have access and thus to do the job at all then you’re already compromised, and you leave objectivity at the door.
It’s not for nothing that Ibrox calls these willing fools “official media partners.”
That doesn’t even hide, or attempt to, the nature of the arrangement.
It has become transactional.
It is no longer about holding people to account or telling truth to power.
The idea that we don’t need to know if the BBC is buying access to someone it is meant to cover is risible.
If the Tory Party said that the BBC could not attend its events or press conferences unless the Director General wrote a cheque, there would be a national outcry.
The precedent BBC Scotland will have set … can you even imagine the state of the news if this was something that organisations applied across the boards?
Good God, every journalist who works there should be appalled and outraged at the very idea of it.
And we, who pay for the damned thing, should be equally shocked.
This is a story that deserves to run and run.
This is a story that needs a wider audience.
This is a story and a half, and I hope the guy who put that letter out there does so again and that everyone shares it until it reaches someone who could put this question to them in a way that gets an answer.
Because this does not fall into the category of stuff we don’t need to know.