Trial by Television. It’s a pretty ugly phrase, and it discusses how Joe and Jane Punter get to play judge and jury to those accused in the press by appointing themselves the moral arbiter of the names in the paper, and decide who is guilty.
And frankly, in most cases, everyone is guilty.
It was used very appositely by managing director Stewart Robertson yesterday to discuss how the number of complaints about incidents involving Rangers seem to hike dramatically after the weekend, and specifically following the BBC’s broadcast of Sportscene.
As Robertson said, he noted they spent an inordinately long time on the show fixating on Alfredo Morelos following the Old Firm match while ignoring everything else in the same game, and this Trial by TV seems to have become Rangers’ new enemy.
The problem we have with this system is Joe and Jane Punter nor TV should not be allowed to decide the outcome of any incident in sport – either for or against Rangers.
If you need to understand why, a look back at 2017’s Ana Inspiration in Women’s Golf, and Lexi Thompson, who led the final round by a clear margin and came close to the title only to learn a viewer had emailed in and pointed out she’d made a mistake with ball replacement. This email cost her shots and suddenly she was in second, and lost the thing overall after a play off.
Now, some might say this is justice – she had made an absent-minded error and that gave her an unfair advantage – but equally it will never be tolerable for the viewer to be the one to point this out.
It makes a mockery of any sport to allow any form of trial by television when it comes to public broadcasting – don’t confuse this with VAR, which is an outstanding use of technology to allow the officials to get the right call. But they are also the ones who monitor the video and decide whether or not to employ it. Not the viewer.
And that is clearly what is happening with Rangers and Sportscene. Whether it is indeed Joe and Jane Punter or Clare Whyte herself, this weekend broadcast is being used vindictively against Rangers and is nowhere near used with the same regularity for any other club.
Trial by TV is a surefire way to destroy your sport – women’s golf is still recovering from that horror two years ago and if Scottish football isn’t careful, it will go further into the rabbit hole of despair it already seems to be sinking into.