During the Vietnam War, the military took to giving a daily briefing from a Saigon hotel.
Such was the nature of the information that they put out – pure propaganda often with no connection whatsoever to the real world – that after a while journalists turned up to mock the press spokesman Barry Zorthian, to his face.
The reporters called them The Five O’Clock Follies.
AP journalist Richard Pyle was so astounded, and appalled, by much of which he heard during these press events, where journalists would openly mock what they heard from Zorthian, that he later said that they were “the longest playing tragi-comedy in South East Asia’s theatre of the absurd.”
The Follies were a low point even in that era of misinformation.
We live in a world where journalists are ever more besieged by this nonsense though. Trump, Johnson and Truss told lies, and indulged fantasy, on a scale that Zorthian and those who sat at those briefings could never have imagined.
Zorthian would later complain that instead of the US Government being presumed honest until it could be proved otherwise, those briefings saw them judged as liars until they could prove they were on the level.
It’s a daft view to hold.
Journalists in the modern age would do well to think that way at all times and treat the job more seriously.
Scotland’s sports journalists are incapable of bringing that mind-set to bear when they deal with Ibrox, but they are capable of believing the worst about everyone at Celtic Park.
There’s a sterling example of it this very week, where Michael Beale’s patently absurd comments about the Ibrox players who are out of contract soon are contrasted with the way the media has chosen to cover the situation we are in with Juranovic and, if you believe today’s reports, Giakoumakis too.
It really is remarkable.
Celtic, we are told, think we’re doomed to lose two players because contract negotiations have broken down, although both of them are in the first year of five-year deals.
Does that make a bit of sense to you? Of course not.
If Celtic choose to sell that’s one thing – and both players are at the upper end of their maximum re-sale age group – but we are not going to be pressured to. Neither those players nor their agents could put Celtic in a position where we have no choice but to move them on for several years, but the press would have you believe that we’re in a corner here.
In the meantime, Beale is allowed to tell the same press corps that players who, come January, will have six months left of their deals and therefore are free to open immediate negotiations with interested parties, do not “hold all the cards” and the club itself is still in charge of this process. That this is manifestly untrue and actually completely ridiculous appears not to trouble the hacks who have accepted it without uttering a word.
These guys would have swallowed everything Zorthian told them.
Indeed, you get the impression that some of them would have sat, nodding, through Trump’s notorious COVID conference where he asked an incredulous scientist if injecting bleach might work as a cure.
Our media is a joke.
Beale’s comments yesterday were so ridiculous that there should be general mockery in the press. Instead the coverage is focussed on how the two might sign new deals, even as their current ones enter the final months … and Celtic? Our squad is coming apart at the seams if you believe the narrative now being spun, although we’re in total command here.
Not only does our media believe every word out of Ibrox, but they shamelessly spin every single thing that happens at Celtic Park.
They are a disgrace.