The Clumpany is not one for reality TV. In fact, here in the ether I am not generally up for any sort of reality whatsoever. However, the latest series of the Apprentice USA looks absolutely dreadful. Just as Arthur Fonzarelli was infamously given a story line where he worked as a sports journalist at the Evening Shark-Jump because the Happy Days script writers had run out of ideas and ratings were in decline, so Donald Trump has been asked to pretend to be US President for a little while.
What a terrible idea! And so implausible and poorly-executed that the producers didn’t even bother to get enough people to do the crowd scenes at his mock inauguration!
Still, at least it’s not for real and we can all simply choose to turn off the TV, forget about it, and sleep soundly at night.
Or maybe not…
The most striking thing about the start of the Trump Presidency has been the above-mentioned furore about the turnout at his inauguration and the truly bizarre spectacle of White House officials and pro-Trump commentators simply denying what everyone saw, and what various data (such as Washington Metro usage statistics) show. One of the merry band of revisionists hilariously referred to “alternate facts” as if it is possible to reinterpret cold hard empirical evidence. Of course, this kind of ‘truth as movable feast’ was also seen throughout the US Presidential campaign and ahead of at least one recent poll in the UK…
As far as I am concerned, this practice is absolutely ludicrous, insulting to the intelligence and potentially downright dangerous. In a world where facts and truths can be ‘refuted’ simply by saying “that’s wrong” or by screaming “fake news”, how on earth can anyone trust or believe anything, and how can society function on anything like a well-ordered and mutually-supportive basis?
It doesn’t bode well for the future, but I am an optimist by nature and think that ‘we’ are all ultimately better than choosing to live in a ‘post-truth’ world.
Much of the commentary on recent events has made it seem as though the shameless rewriting of unarguable facts, and the recasting of lies as truth is something novel.
And if you are a fan of Scottish football it is all too familiar. So much so that you probably just shrugged your shoulders at recent events and thought “this is a rubbish remake of a movie that I’ve already seen.”
Now, for the avoidance of doubt, and before anyone scoffs, let me be very clear that I am not suggesting that Scottish football is of similar importance to the leadership of the world’s most powerful country and the future peace of the world. It is clearly far more important… However, the same points about the perils of ignoring and misrepresenting the truth still apply. And in some ways, they are even more striking in Scotland.
Because in Scottish football it is not mainly the forces of authority who are telling us that up is down, black is white, left is right, and death is life.
It’s the press doing it! The very people who you might expect to be interested in holding authority to account, speaking truth to power and looking out for ordinary folk. When it comes to matters Ibrox some of them are past masters at rewriting history, and telling you that everything you know and saw is incorrect. And all without any apparent flicker of embarrassment.
Theirs is a fictional world of ethereal football clubs, ’emergence’ from liquidation, non-existent insolvency law, invisible creditors, and treating you – the free-thinking, intelligent, worldly-wise reader/ listener/ viewer – as a complete and utter moron. The sinister agents of the ‘post-truth’ agenda in the sphere of politics in North America and Europe have got nothing on the massed ranks of the fact-resistant Scottish sports media!
We could debate the reasons for their wilful sacrificing of self-respect and professional integrity until the end of time (or at least until circulation figures drop to zero). Personally, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in a murky mixture of fear, commercial imperative, laziness, misguided belief and outright contempt for many of the people whose custom helps to keep them in a job. However, the reasons are pretty irrelevant. The key thing to note is that they knowingly present untruths as fact, rewrite the past as easily as others flush a toilet, and ignore people who highlight their bizarre antics like I ignore someone who asks me if I would rather have a glass of water than a gallon of Buckie.
Quite how they expect to be taken seriously – and indeed believed – on any other matter when they tell us fairy tales about the late Rangers Football Club (which they would have us believe is central to the well being of our national sport) is beyond me.
As the noise-makers around the new US President are likely to discover, if you are foolish enough to treat unwelcome truths and facts as toxic, you shouldn’t be surprised if everyone else ultimately takes a similar view of you.