28 January 2014

The Silence Of The Succulent Lambs

by D'Artagnan | Guest Contributor

Let Graham explain – he was actually there, after all: “Succulent lamb journalism means a culture – and I hold my hand up here too – a culture of sycophantic, unquestioning, puff journalism that went on around Rangers generally and Sir David Murray particularly.” 
Of course you’ll see it to some degree across sport, across football. But it was, many Glasgow journalists say, more damaging here. 
“Look,” says Graham “Selective Amnesia” Spiers, “you are making a pact with the devil if you like. You get thrown the best scraps. You get something for the back page or whatever. But there’s a tacit deal. You don’t dig too deep. You don’t cause any trouble. 
–Alex Thomson, Saturday 24 Mar 2012

It seems like the succulent lamb has moved fields. I doubt there would be many Rangers supporters who, after what has transpired over the last three years, who would suggest some of the articles written about our club were merely “puff journalism”.

Of course they didn’t have to dig too deep – after all the Rangers Tax Case Blog and BBC Scotland’s “The Men who Sold the Jerseys” had done all the work for them. All our media had to do was apply their own opinions to the information which was readily available – despite the questionable source and interpretation of that information. And apply their opinion they did, as we all know. Time and time again. They drooled, they dribbled, they salivated over questionable events surrounding our club. But what they didn’t do was dig.

No small wonder then that Thomson is also on record as saying, “For years too much football ‘journalism’ in Glasgow had been too lazy, sycophantic and incapable of asking awkward questions.”

And you know what ? He is right.

It finally dawned on me when Lord Nimmo Smith’s SPL Commission report contained the startling revelation that the material used by BBC Scotland in the aforementioned documentary was actually evidence which had been stolen from the Rangers Tax Case.

And the response from our media? Not even a murmur.

The fact that the evidence in a case they had milked, salivated, opinionated, discussed in such minute detail had been stolen appears not to even have raised an eyebrow of curiosity.

Imagine for a moment the OJ Simpson trial – and it was discovered the infamous glove had been stolen from the evidence cabinet and the media hadn’t raised a murmur? Nope, I can’t imagine it either. But of course this is Scotland – land of lazy, sycophantic and incapable of asking awkward questions journalism.

Perhaps no-one in the Scottish media wants to ask questions of their own – the journalists at BBC Scotland who received and retained the stolen evidence – a kind of “closing ranks” if you like. Or could it be that for a Scottish Print media in dire trouble, evidenced by the recent voluntary redundancies at The Scotsman, the occasional appearance on BBC Sportsound is a nice little earner in uncertain times?

When the Rangers Tax Case received the Orwellian Award it was hailed as “Displaying focused contempt for those who evade difficult truths, and beating almost every Scottish football journalist to the real story.”

It seems history may be on the verge of repeating itself.

As the blogger behind Football Tax Havens, ably assisted by the tenacious PZJ, asks searching questions of land deals between Glasgow City Council and Celtic FC one could be forgiven for thinking that this topic appears to be “off limits” for the Scottish media. Perhaps in the near future another blogger will win an award hailed as Displaying focused contempt for those who evade difficult truths, and beating almost every Scottish football journalist to the real story.

And if he does, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be even more voluntary redundancies within the Scottish Print media.