Jim Traynor Melts Down

by | Feb 14, 2020

My 94,000th Scottish-football-media-is-appalling diatribe concerned their clueless manipulation of recent events involving Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos. This was called out by BBC Scotland’s Michael Stewart. And Stewart called James Traynor, to whom Rangers outsource their PR, a “bully” and a “dangerous character” causing Rangers huge “reputational damage.” The BBC suspended Stewart for his veracity.

After six-weeks investigating Rangers’ claims of widespread racial abuse of Morelos at Celtic in December, Police Scotland last weekend charged a 12-year-old boy in connection with alleged racist chants at Morelos. Rangers fans took huge pleasure at this news. While the club issued a formal club statement last Monday which can only be filed under “deranged” and, as it was demonstrably authored by Traynor, proved Stewart’s claim about Traynor damaging Rangers’ reputation.

Traynor, disingenuously at best, conflated the crassly obvious media manipulation Stewart exposed with the undeniable abuse Morelos gets from crowds across Scotland. And though it would neither surprise me if amounts of the abuse of Morelos was racist, nor if further charges emerge, Traynor’s 579-word rant, based on one 12-year-old being charged with, though not convicted of, racist chanting, remains utterly inexcusable.

Sadly, the only way to convey Traynor’s lunacy is to reproduce dollops of it. Because, having properly, eloquently stated that “racist abuse, indeed abuse of any form, must never be condoned or dismissed,” he continued:

“Even though many others commented on the abuse (racial and sectarian) directed towards Morelos, Rangers had a duty of care not to say anything that might compromise a live Police Scotland investigation. What none of us should ever do, however, is dismiss, or trivialise abusive behaviour as too many media outlets, journalists, and pundits have done in this instance.

“Perhaps there might be a bout of contrition and one or two may feel a pang of guilt now that the evidence some of them so loudly demanded is there. If enough of our media had been of a mind to treat the issue with the gravity required…there would have been none of the dismissive comments which have helped pollute social media, newspapers and broadcast platforms.

“Social media is, of course, largely lawless but some of the pieces (about Morelos) in mainstream media were and remain disgraceful. He has been described as a waster, a cheat, an angry brat and one columnist/pundit wrote that if you can’t take the vitriol you are in the wrong city. The implication seems to be that the fault lies not with those who choose racism and abuse, but with a young immigrant who chose to come to our country. This is a deeply disturbing attitude and that it was actually expressed in a national newspaper defies belief.

“When a player is at the centre of an abuse claim he is treated with respect and sensitivity and given support. That is certainly the case in England, but not here and most certainly not with Alfredo Morelos, who is actually being demonised in many quarters of the media. A number of factually incorrect stories have been published about Alfredo recently causing a great deal of stress and anxiety within his family at a time when his heavily-pregnant wife should be calm and relaxed.

“A river of negative and hurtful attention has been flowing towards the Morelos family without thought or concern for the individuals involved and the way they have been treated is shameful. Especially vulgar is the manner in which claims of abuse, racist and sectarian, have been dismissed in some quarters, BBC Scotland in particular, where the overall situation has been mocked amid outrageous claims that Rangers were behind the leaking of certain stories. None of this shows our media and country in a good light.

“Perhaps now some people will take a long and honest look at themselves and who knows, they might even apologise, but all of this serves only to make Rangers even more committed to our Everyone Anyone campaign. We will not stop or slow our efforts to make Ibrox open and welcoming to all.

“Rangers would be more than happy to accommodate the young person involved…on one of our courses designed to help people understand why racist and sectarian abuse is unacceptable. Indeed, if any of those journalists/pundits who got it so badly wrong would like to attend we’d also welcome and help them.”

Many of Traynor’s points openly invite “whataboutery.” And many have accepted the invitation, as Ibrox has twice been part-closed this season because of supporters’ racism. But racist abuse has demonstrably not been dismissed or mocked by “BBC Scotland in particular” or Scottish media generally. And Traynor’s rant frequently excretes such deception/dishonesty.

For instance, Rangers have formally said nothing to “compromise a live investigation.” But countless media outlets have forcefully punted their narrative, which underpins Traynor’s rant, that racism is driving Morelos from Scotland. Why? Because Morelos is Rangers’ most bankable asset and trying to sell their best player in January’s transfer window, without admitting the desperate financial straits which necessitated those (failed) efforts, needed justification.

The rant is full of faux concerns, couched in emotionally-exploitative language; It is laughable, lamentable garbage which would shame the most drunken pub bore. That it is a formal statement from a purportedly serious organisation “defies belief.”

Tweets from two Scottish newspaper journalists, the Times’ Graham Spiers and the Guardian’s Ewan Murray, neither of whom are among Traynor’s targets as neither currently work for Scottish media outlets, concisely conveyed due outrage.

Spiers has history with Traynor. But that only part-explains him asking: “How desperate must (he) be to produce this wafting resentment? On the fate of a 12-year-old boy? And, believe me, it is Jim, from the tortured syntax and sheer ineptitude with punctuation.” And Murray tweeted bemusedly: “This is Rangers Football Club, issuing a statement in response to a police charge of a 12 (Twelve!) year-old, as leading to all manner of ‘points’ which pass me by. If their support regard this as absolutely great…”

They do. And Celtic’s outrage-via-club-statement at Sky Sports last week was similarly popular. However, Celtic addressed an acknowledged wrong while Traynor flagrantly abused the issue of racist abuse to impugn his media enemies and, straight from the Donald Trump playbook, make many outright false accusations of behaviour of which he is guilty.

Stewart’s bullying claim against Traynor is infamously video-evidenced. At an October 2016 Rangers press briefing, Mark Benstead of Sky Sports (oh, the irony) asked then-manager Mark Warburton about then-player Joey Barton. Traynor interrupted, telling Benstead to “show some respect…don’t ask it again.” Benstead snarkily replied “it would be nice if that (respect) was reciprocated.” At which point Traynor asked for more questions but curtailed matters before anyone could reply.

Warburton’s thousand-yard stare throughout all this suggested he wished he was already at Queen’s Park Rangers, while the journalists then were surely rendered speechless by events. Their silence now on Stewart’s suspension shames them all. And proves Stewart right about Traynor’s bullying malevolence.

The media manipulation is more complex. The tale of the private investigator found near/under Morelos’s car (the one originally punted by Rangers fan-websites and then run by mainstream media as “brake-tempering”) concerned the, ahem, ‘propriety’ of aspects of the player’s private life (“at a time when his heavily-pregnant wife should be calm and relaxed”). And racism is NOT a side-issue outside THIS story. Which Traynor wilfully, deceitfully ignored in his rant, for his own personally-vindictive ends.

Morelos is not the paragon of virtue portrayed, especially recently, in Scotland’s media. His on-field ill-discipline remains an issue, despite improvements this season. His gestures at fans have ranged from dim to disgusting. But the amount of racist abuse he has brought upon himself? As much as Mark Walters, horribly abused at Celtic in 1988; or Shay Logan, abused on-line by a 15-year-old Rangers fan days ago, about which Traynor wrote 579 fewer words; or Neil Lennon, physically attacked at Hearts in 2011.

None. Zero.

Traynor was spot-on with one sentence: “None of this shows our media and country in a good light.” However, he has long-been a huge part of “this,” as a mainstream newspaper journalist and “PR guru.” And when a man his size melts down, it leaves a hell of a mess.

Rumour has it that his contract is on the line, as some inside Rangers are reportedly as appalled/embarrassed as most outside Rangers. Ending that contract would do Rangers, and the state of Scottish football journalism, some service.