Mediawatch: Stop the Sterling hate campaign

Date published: Thursday 30th June 2016 11:37

It isn't, but today could have been a single-issue Mediawatch. F**king leave Raheem Sterling alone...

How long can this go on for?
Mediawatch got very angry at the Daily Mail yesterday, but we were actually pleasantly surprised by the lack of Raheem Sterling-bashing. In the Independent, Ian Herbert wrote a piece asking why the Manchester City winger was being ‘eviscerated’. Well, quite.

Fast forward 24 hours, and the anger is rising again. ‘Obscene Raheem,’ shouts the headline on the front page (yes, that’s front page) of The Sun. For fuc… Sorry, but this one’s a biggie.

‘England flop Raheem Sterling flaunted his millionaire wealth — in a video posted just hours after arriving home in disgrace after being dumped out of Euro 2016 by Iceland,’ a piece by Richard Moriarty begins. ‘The £49 million Manchester City winger laughed as he took pals on a Through The Keyhole-style tour of a luxury mansion — boasting about it having a crystal-encrusted bathroom sink.’

Firstly, a small piece of administration, for Moriarty’s story is labelled as an ‘exclusive’. Given that the video was posted by a friend of Sterling (a friend, not Sterling himself) on Snapchat, how can it possibly be an exclusive story? The clue’s in the first word of the phrase ‘social media’, guys.

This is the latest in a campaign to victimise a young, English footballer who has – and we can’t repeat these next few words often or loudly enough – done nothing wrong. So a 21-year-old is struggling to cope with pressure on the international stage? Let’s try and turn him into a national hate figure and see if that helps.

Also, let’s not pretend that The Sun don’t know exactly what they are doing here; it is a trick that they have repeated often enough in the last fortnight over far more serious issues than Raheem Sterling’s bathroom. Whip up your readership into a storm by planting deliberately inflammatory rhetoric into their consciousness, before walking away with hands raised and shoulders shrugged when said readership then takes this rhetoric to heart. They are willfully taking the pin out of the grenade and throwing it into the room, playing on the anger and jealousy that always follows a major tournament exit.

‘But a pal posted the video of the pampered star — still wearing his England national team polo shirt — who was only interested in bragging about a fleet of luxury cars and the extravagant mansion. Former Liverpool player Sterling smiled as his friends first videoed a luxury £100,000 Range Rover 4×4 before filming another luxury motor on the gravelled drive.’

Gravel? The drive is ‘gravelled’? Well now we’ve changed our minds. Hanging is too good for him.

Mediawatch could pick apart each and every line, but would like to focus on just one:

‘Sterling purchased a £3.5 million mansion in Wilmslow, Cheshire, after moving to City last summer in a £180,000-a-week deal. The house boasts six bedrooms, four reception rooms, six bathrooms, a 30ft swimming pool, cinema room and a triple garage to house his luxury motors and he counts former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson among his neighbours. It is not thought to be the home featured in the video.’

Yes, that’s right. The Sun waited until paragraph 39 to tell their readers that the house pictured in the video might not even be owned by Sterling. Suddenly the second ‘a’ in the opening ‘‘The £49 million Manchester City winger laughed as he took pals on a Through The Keyhole-style tour of a luxury mansion’ line makes sense. Suddenly Mediawatch wants to scream all of the swearwords.

Where does this end? When does news reporting in the public interest become a deliberate attempt to demonise the personality and jeopardise the career of a 21-year-old player? When does the desire for clicks and sales outgrow that public interest (f**k it, that one’s already gone). When does the biggest-selling national newspaper get called out for its own role in the “culture of fear” to which Steven Gerrard referred on Wednesday? And when does Sterling turn around and say, actually, I don’t want to play for England any more, and presumably be labelled a coward for doing so?

The Sun have every right to publish stories like these. They have every right to put them on their front page. But having done so, they forgo their right to ask why England players are struggling to swim in the goldfish bowl. Sometimes, the answer is closer to (videoed) home than you think.


Elsewhere in The Sun

Because ‘man walks up to his own front door while someone stands outside his house with a camera’ doesn’t quite evoke enough revulsion.


Like ten thousand spoons…

‘And Vardy made it back to his Melton Mowbray pad keeping a low profile, amid suggestions that Three Lions skipper Wayne Rooney had told the PFA Players of the Year’s wife, Rebekah, to keep a low profile’ – The Sun.

Mediawatch will let you guess which newspaper asked Rebekah Vardy to be a columnist during Euro 2016.


David Beckham!
‘Becks next England Manager,’ screams the headline on the front page of the Daily Star. Because there really is nothing else facing the UK worth discussing.

‘The odds of David Beckham becoming the next England manager were slashed last night as fans begged him to save the Three Lions.’

A lovely headline, of course, but misleading at best. Luckily Mediawatch has access to historical odds.

– On Monday, when England exited Euro 2016, Beckham’s shortest odds were 28/1, and longest also 28/1.
– On Tuesday, Beckham’s shortest odds were 33/1, and longest 66/1.
– On Wednesday, Beckham’s shortest odds were 33/1, and longest 250/1.
– On Thursday, Beckham’s shortest odds were 40/1, and longest 100/1.

Still, you got a front page out of it.


The last word
The last word on England’s tournament failure comes, obviously, from Paul Merson. Sky Sports’ ‘magic man’ has rated the players in Roy Hodgson’s squad.

Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling are awarded the highest marks, because ‘we didn’t really get tested defensively because we never played against a top team’. That’s because we conceded goals to a non-top team, Merse.

However, it’s Wayne Rooney who gets Merse’s best work:

‘Rooney gave the ball away cheaply against Iceland, but there were a lot of players hiding. Every time he got his head up there was nobody available and he got the blame for that. But I looked at it and he always wanted the ball in the final stages when it was going horribly wrong. Many of his teammates didn’t.’

We’ll just leave this here:


Quit playing games with my heart

‘Ryan Giggs to QUIT Manchester United if Jose Mourinho is appointed’ – Daily Mirror, May 8.

‘Ryan Giggs set to quit Man Utd as Mourinho replaces LvG’ – Metro, May 22.

‘Ryan Giggs set to QUIT Manchester United and end 29-year association with Red Devils’ – Daily Mirror, June 1.

‘Ryan Giggs to leave Manchester United due to managerial desires’ –, June 3.

‘Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs on the verge of being named Nottingham Forest manager’ – Metro, June 20.

‘Ryan Giggs is reportedly set to tell Jose Mourinho in person that he will be leaving Manchester United’ – Daily Express, June 24.

‘Legend Ryan Giggs set to quit Manchester United after talks’ – The Sun, June 25.

‘Frustrated Giggs set to quit United’ – Daily Mail, June 30.

Tell you what, just let us know when he’s finally gone.

Impressively, the last one of those headlines is labelled as an ‘exclusive’.


Nailed it
Mediawatch wanted to embed a tweet here, but it appears that Sky Sports’ Wednesday afternoon claim that their sources said Gareth Southgate was interested in taking the England job has mysteriously vanished.

How weird.


URL on Independent’s Arsenal/Lacazette story:


Headline on Independent’s Arsenal/Lacazette story:

‘Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger refuses to rule out move for Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette’

It’s definitely one of those.


Accidental dig of the day
Writes Jermaine Jenas on Glenn Hoddle:

‘We’d all love a second opportunity in life, another swing of the bat.’

Don’t get him started on that again, Jermaine.


Recommended reading of the day
Nick Ames on Poland

Noah Davis on Jurgen Klinsmann

Damon Threadgold on Team England and the FA

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