It is often stated that charcoal is the darkest substance known to man. This neglects new man-made materials, like carbon nanotubes, which can absorb more than 99% of all visible light. However, there is a new contender. Something even less reflective: the modern journalist.
I find it more than a little disconcerting that representatives across the Australian sports media have managed to completely condemn the failures of the AFL, ASADA, the government (AFP, ACC and ADRVP), and even their media colleagues, yet maintain unequivocal support for the narrative sold by these inept and/or deceitful bodies.
The new targets demonstrate progress of a sort, but given their new stance – having eventually succumbed to more than a year’s worth of overwhelming evidence – one would expect them to review their assumptions about the supplements saga and their own performance surrounding their commentary.
They remain steadfast in their convictions that Essendon were systematic drug cheats. They cannot state it forthrightly for legal reasons, but their tone is more telling than their words, and guides public opinion. They maintain this position despite the utter lack of evidence supporting their case.
When challenged on the ABC’s Offsiders by Tracey Holmes, one of the very few balanced journalists to address the subject, Richard Hinds fell back on the allegations from the ‘blackest day’ in Australian sport. Stating, ‘they wouldn’t have done that without clear-cut evidence’.
The sporting community is still waiting on that evidence. Nobody should form a conclusion based on their faith in the unsubstantiated assertions of a group universally condemned for their incompetence on the very same matter under consideration.
Reporters feign stupidity, to cover for knowingly propagating and defending blatantly fallacious arguments in order to suit their agenda.
An allegation is not evidence, something of which they are all well aware.
In criminal proceedings conviction rates are approximately 60%*, but this figure is misleading as many charges are often downgraded or dismissed outright, resulting in a lesser conviction of one or two items from a long list of charges. Or no conviction at all.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It should. It is the exact same situation as the charge sheet against Essendon and it’s officials. Page after page of quadruple spaced unsubstantiated nonsense, most of it filler, and repeated four-fold to target each official. The list could have been a few lines, but that’s not nearly as impressive as ’34 pages of charges’.
In the end, Essendon’s officials plead ‘present’. They didn’t admit guilt, they only admitted to being at the club when something which may or may not have been dubious, may or may not have happened. Of course they were there, we have video footage and employment records to corroborate the fact. This is hardly an indictment.
At the time, the accredited press made the same argument as Hinds, ‘the AFL wouldn’t have made these allegations unless they had the evidence to sustain the charges’. Nobody mentioned the fact that allegations are worthless words. They simply told the story the AFL needed to win the propaganda war against Essendon and protect their own interests.
So why did they not protest when the ‘findings’ were announced? Allegations are facts, so by their own rational the AFL must be engaged in a doping cover-up.
The explanation isn’t difficult, they were already aware that their own argument was deeply flawed.
Or phrased less diplomatically, they were lying. Lying in print, lying on the airwaves, and using those lies to slander not only Essendon, but the few journalists with the integrity to actually follow the evidence. Gerard Whateley was among those who had their professionalism questioned for the crime of honesty within a corrupt system, despite having no affiliation with the club supported by the evidence he presented.
“It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong.’ – Voltaire
And the farce continues with regards to the Essendon coaching role. Every media outlet is pushing the story that ‘Bomber’ Thompson has regained his passion for coaching and if Essendon don’t sacrifice James Hird in favour of Thompson, he will move on to an opposition club.
This portrayal perpetuates their efforts to destabilise the Essendon Football Club, and undermine Hird, yet is in complete contradiction to their own knowledge of the facts.
In 2010 when Thompson made an early exit from his coaching contract with Geelong to rejoin the Bombers and mentor Hird, claims that he was ‘burnt out’ were instantly dismissed as a weak rouse. This dismissal was backed by public comments by officials and insiders at the time. Thompson never lost his passion, he merely wanted to return to the club he captained to a premiership in 1993 to help restore it to it’s former glory. That goal has not changed.
Clearly another thing hasn’t changed. The unreflective ability of journalists to selectively forgo the truth and embrace hypocrisy.
The vast majority of the AFL press should be condemning their own lack of integrity. Their duplicity is on the public record for all to see, it is regularly pointed out to them, yet they maintain unsupported arguments and defiantly refuse to utter those three little words befitting most of their content, ‘I was wrong’.
Those poor carbon nanotubes never stood a chance, but that is often the way with modern technology, superseded before reaching market.
To end on a positive note, going forward science may be able to develop a use for our alleged journalists.