Gary Lineker swept aside amid astonishing levels of online outrage
“Getting there,” tweeted Lee Anderson earlier today, referring to a story about the British economy. “You won’t see this in the MSM [Mainstream Media],” added the deputy chairman of the Conservative party, despite the fact that the headline to which he was drawing the attention of his followers had literally been screengrabbed from that little-known underground news-sheet, The Times. Oh, Lee.
Quite apart from confirming long-held suspicions that the MP for Ashfield is considerably thicker than a submarine door, his tweet did at least suggest that perhaps assorted Tories were beginning to move on from one of the more surreal self-owns in very recent British political history. An episode in which an opinion tweeted by a BBC sport presenter regarding a callous new illegal migration bill somehow became more newsworthy than the cruel, ill-conceived and almost certainly unworkable bill itself.
It’s been a weird week for Gary Lineker, a woke, leftie snowflake (translation: reasonably thoughtful and compassionate man) who generated astonishing levels of outrage when he quite reasonably described the government’s small boats policy as “immeasurably cruel” and “directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”. No sooner had Gary pressed send, than the usual suspects on the Tory front bench, GBeebies, The Telegraph, The Mail and other right-wing news outlets began clutching their pearls at this fairly banal but quite accurate observation, then started calling for the Match of the Day presenter’s head.
As someone who works for the BBC, they and their army of online useful idiots spluttered, Lineker was clearly in breach of Beeb impartiality rules and should therefore be forced into a grovelling apology before being summarily dismissed from his job. More worryingly, Lineker’s tweet, rather than the bill it criticised, was somehow deemed worthy enough to become the lead news item on ITV’s News At Ten, while no end of BBC current affairs shows also devoted plenty of airtime to the former’s England striker’s message, often completely misrepresenting what he had actually said.
It’s worth noting that sports presenters are not and never have been subject to the same BBC impartiality guidelines as the corporation’s proper Big Boy journalists. : heavyweights such as the Question Time presenter Fiona Bruce. She has been criticised by a Labour MP after last night appearing to trivialise the appalling behaviour of Boris Johnson’s father, the alleged wife-beater Stanley, on the grounds that he had only put his ex-wife in hospital with a broken nose once.
Despite his freelance status, it was announced that the former England striker would be “spoken to” about his duty to be impartial, although the identity of who would be doing the talking was unclear. The BBC chairman Richard Sharp, who is so famously politically neutral he has donated over £400,000 to the Conservative party? Or the Beeb’s politically unpartisan director general, Tim Davie, a card-carrying Conservative who has previously stood in local council elections and is rumoured to have scrapped the excellent satire The Mash Report because he believed it criticised his beloved Tory party too much.
As amused and/or bemused as he seemed by the palaver he had caused, Lineker has weathered the preposterous three-day media storm. Football Daily awaits his trademark wry Match of the Day intro and sign-off with interest, suspecting at least one or both will be extremely mischievous and provide more grist to the awful Tories’ mill. Wait, what’s that? Lineker stepping back from presenting? The absolute state of it.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“For the video to become so big, it was amazing because there was so much love, so many big names like ‘role model’, ‘inspiration’ – that I’d helped so many kids or adults who also have a stammer. I try to say everything I think, it doesn’t define me as a person” – Watford’s Ken Sema, who has a stammer, talks to BBC Breakfast after his post-match interview last month led to an online outpouring of admiration.
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