Rangers Media Minefield

It’s tricky to know what to believe at the moment when you pick up a newspaper or turn on a news programme. There is a constant need to read between the lines of any given report, whether it be in the broadcast media or in the press. This week we have had reports of boardroom power plays, journalists winning awards for documentaries that have been shown to be largely inaccurate and various people churning out the “new club” myth in what is starting to look like a concerted campaign of misinformation. The simple fact is that we are going to have to learn not just what publications to believe but which individual journalists are capable of giving the club a fair crack of the whip.

If we take this story about Malcolm Murray and Charles Green as an example then maybe it will start to illustrate what I mean. The story was run by Keith Jackson a couple of days ago and included such nuggets as Green giving the Rangers board an ultimatum that it was him or Murray and Walter Smith apparently backing Malcolm Murray. It was light on detail and high on innuendo.

When Malcolm Murray was brought in to be Chairman it certainly put a lot of people’s minds at rest. He is undoubtedly a Rangers fan and he provided a presence in the boardroom that fans could trust before Charles Green had proved himself. That role is perhaps less important now with Ian Hart and Walter Smith on the board and it has been apparent that Murray has slipped into the background after a flurry of questionable media appearances when he first took up the post. He is no longer the only fan on the board but the Chairman, no matter who he is, still has a hugely important role to play.

The fact is that if Keith Jackson didn’t know that there have been issues between Green and Murray for months then he is one of the few journalists who didn’t. There is no question there is a personality clash, perhaps because of Murray’s more reserved style compared to the abrasive Green. Either way there have been problems and these appear to have come to a head at the board meeting last week. However, Jackson presumably knows that this is the culmination of a long standing problem and not the explosive drama which he tried to portray. Perhaps he was just trying to sell papers but the article seemed to be written with the express intention of causing as much of a headache for the club as possible.

If you compare Jackson’s piece to Richard Wilson’s in the Herald then you see the problem. Wilson lays out the facts clearly and concisely, without the innuendo which runs through Jackson’s article. Goings on behind the scenes can be murky enough without journalists trying to add to the problem. So was this an intentional ploy by Jackson to harm the club? Who knows? There is certainly an issue between the club and the Daily Record at the moment and the story was not leaked to them by the club.

So, after the drama of the past two days, we wake up today to Boutros Boutros-Jackson claiming that his story is responsible for healing the boardroom rifts. A story which appeared only after the Sun had revealed Murray was to stay on in the short term. This is a quite incredible attempt at a U-turn from Jackson which only serves to illustrate how sensationalist and inaccurate his initial story was. Presumably since Green gave the board an “ultimatum” we can now expect him to leave if Murray is staying? No?

I genuinely hope the issue with Malcolm Murray is now resolved quickly and with a minimum of fuss. It appears unlikely that he will continue in the long term but hopefully all parties will now realise that it is in their best interests to sort the matter out privately rather than through a public slanging match carried out in the media. Hopefully it will also see an end to confidential details of Rangers board meetings appearing in tabloids - particularly those who would use the story to cause maximum anguish to Rangers fans in the way they report it.

Earlier in the week we had our old chum Alex Thomson being interviewed by Bill McMurdo at CRO. Now the guys over there have taken some stick for this but I think they did the right thing. It was worth taking the opportunity to speak to Thomson, and try to clarify certain points, but he is an experienced operator and was perhaps a bit too cute. The interesting thing was his attempt to disassociate himself from Phil MacGiollabhain, the man described as “tarred with a sectarian brush”.  Now I can understand why Thomson would want to do this, it can’t help him to be associated with such people publicly, but yesterday MacGiollabhain attempted to reattach himself to Thomson’s coattails with a glowing tribute in the wake of Thomson’s RTS award.

Now who are we to believe? Thomson, who wants to distance himself from the self-styled “Rebel Journalist” or MacGiollabhain who paints a picture of the two being close friends and associates? I wish I could say I believed the ‘celebrated’ journalist over the bigoted blogger but I’m really not sure. Both have proven themselves to be happy to twist the truth when it suits them and there is no doubt Thomson has taken much of the content of his blogs on Rangers from those working to damage the club as much as possible.

Then we have the “new club” issue. Now this is one which may take a long time to go away such is the desperation of many Scottish football fans to believe it. This is coupled with the willingness of certain journalists to ignore the truth of the situation and churn out their own wishful thinking. In the past ten days Spence, Spiers and Ewing Grahame have all declared that Rangers are a “new club”. They have no evidence to back this claim up but they know it will get them attention. They are happy to ignore the SFA, UEFA, the courts and the ECA. One does have to question why their bosses at the BBC or the Telegraph are happy for them to report so inaccurately. The club don’t give these people the time of day currently but it can’t really stop them writing this stuff. We just have to keep highlighting the fact that they are lying and that it isn’t a question of their warped opinion but a matter of fact that Rangers are the same club they have always been.

Perhaps some media outlets have become hostile because they are worried about Rangers expanding their own content. Perhaps some of them are just willing to put aside their professional integrity to settle some scores. Either way it’s wise to think about who has written an article, and why, before taking its content too seriously.

All in all, the current state of much of the journalism in this country is quite depressing. There are some notable exceptions though and we should credit those who have shown that they can report accurately and fairly. Nobody wants journalists to avoid negative reporting on Rangers. We just want fair, balanced and factual comment, free from petty dislike, propaganda, personal vendettas or dishonesty. Is that too much to ask?

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