As usual, we bought three tabloid newspapers on Wednesday morning but actually, we could have saved ourselves £1.70 because this Mediawatch pretty much begins and ends with the front page of The Sun, which is f***ing disgusting.
The UK media cannot name the player at the centre of a police investigation around child sex offences. This is regardless of the player being named in foreign media and extensively on social media. They cannot name him.
So what do The Sun do? They name the ‘other’ player who fits the description (plays for Everton, married, 31) and claim to be disgusted and shocked that his name has been connected to the arrest on Twitter.
And as if by magic, they have all-but named the actual footballer by a process of elimination and also dragged the name of an innocent player onto the front page of a national newspaper next to the words ‘child sex probe’. Which is pretty much where nobody wants to be.
The Sun absolutely know that most of their readers are not regular Twitter users so will have no clue that this player has been the subject of the hilarious memes that always emerge amidst the hilarity of alleged child sex offences, so what they have done under the pretence of clearing a man’s name is shove that man’s name in front of millions of people.
He has indeed been ‘falsely named in child sex probe’. By you.
The fact that reading some sh*t on Twitter and then pretending to be disgusted on the player’s behalf can be claimed as an ‘exclusive’ is almost immaterial but makes it even clearer that this is a naked grab for readers who will glance at a front page, a headline and a picture and decide that there is no dirty smoke without fire.
They write that he has been ‘wrongly named as the player suspended by Everton’ as if he was wrongly named by the police or by the club, not my thousands of idiots on Twitter who could and should be ignored. He has now been named by The Sun and it matters not a jot that the word ‘innocent’ is used on their front page. This was absolutely needless and the very twa**iest of tricks.
On the inside pages, they go again.
‘INNOCENT (player’s name) was wrongly accused of being arrested for alleged child sex crimes because Everton did not name the real suspect, it was claimed last night.’
So it’s not even the fault of the idiots on Twitter that the player has been falsely accused, but the fault of Everton for following the advice of a) their lawyers and b) common sense, in not naming the actual accused. The pure gall of The Sun here is extraordinary. They break ranks to name an unconnected player and pretty much reveal the actual accused to get around contempt of court laws, and they are blaming Everton.
They have a ‘source’ and they say: “He is entirely innocent and has been dragged into this by the club’s decision not to name the other player, directly leading to rumours spreading on unregulated websites and social media.”
Everton could not have named the other player because they are following the law. The Sun are doing all they can to circumvent that law and have dragged this ‘entirely innocent’ man’s name into the public arena. Who do you think might have irked the footballer more? His club for not naming names or this national newspaper for naming his actual name?
And the problem is that as soon as one outlet decides to go down this pernicious path, then others follow. Because the one thing we know about churnalism in 2021 is that no story can be left un-re-written.
So you get this from MailOnline:
‘Everton midfielder (player’s name) is WRONGLY named online as the Premier League footballer suspended over alleged child sex offences’
And what can you possibly do when a man is WRONGLY named online but to repeat that name online?
And the Mirror were not far behind:
‘(Player’s name) wrongly named as Everton footballer arrested on suspected child sex offences’
Both of those stories quote The Sun’s ‘source’ as an excuse to link an innocent man to a potentially horrific crime in a shameless grab for clicks.