Another misspeak this week has landed a respected former football manager in hot water.
Strachan’s Confused Misspeak
If you watch TV sport, you are probably aware that Gordon Strachan, a former Scotland and Celtic manager, has been dropped as a pundit on Sky Sports after drawing a comparison that has infuriated many. He has apologised but the story is still running after several days.
What actually happened? Well early in the Thursday night programme, The Debate, panellists had been discussing the problem of racism in football, prompted by Spurs and England defender Danny Rose, considered to be one of the most talented players of his generation. He said he couldn’t wait to see the back of football because of the racist abuse he suffers – and because of the lack of action taken against offenders.
Later in the same programme, the discussion turned to whether Adam Johnson, a footballer who has been released from prison after serving 3 years of a sentence for child sex offences, should be allowed to play again. He was found guilty of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old fan.
Strachan, who has said he would be happy to sign Johnson given that he had served his time, appeared to draw a comparison between the racist chants and the potential for abusive chants if Johnson appeared back on the pitch. He posed the question:
“If he (Johnson) goes on to the pitch and people start calling him names, have we got to do the same as it is to the racist situation?” Strachan said. “Is it all right to call him names now after doing his three years – have we got to allow that to happen?”
Misspeak trouble can come from nonsense
It’s a fairly non-sensical sentence and certainly not a thought out position. The nub of the argument is that many believe Johnson deserves abuse while (clearly) black players do not.
Whilst Strachan’s comments were ill-advised, and clearly not well thought out – the sentence barely makes sense – it is clear to me that it is extremely difficult to pick wise words all the time. It is extremely easy to say something stupid, or non-pc or just plain wrong in a longish conversation, in which you are being treated as an expert. We see it time and time again. It is not easy to be a professional pundit and in the age of Twitter, it is easy for anyone to misspeak in public or in the media, and kick up a hornet’s nest of fury.
Misspeaks: a Long List
So next time someone tells you that they do not have time to ‘work on their messages’ ahead of a media interview, and they do not need Media Training, remind them of this long list of people who misspoke in an unguarded moment. Some just had an uncomfortable few days, others lost their jobs or ended up in court.
- April 2019 Gordon Strachan.
- February 2019 Angela Smith ‘people of a funny tinge…’
- Jan 2019 US weatherman Jeremy Kappell fired after referring to Martin Luther Coon King.
- July 2016 Andrea Leadsom pulls out of Tory leadership race after ill-advised ‘motherhood’ comments.
- August 2016 Kevin Roberts resigns after saying ‘women in advertising lack ambition’.
- April 2018 Sainsbury CEO caught on mic singing ‘we’re in the money’.
- October 2019 Michael Gove caused widespread offence by joking about the allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
- June 2015 Professor Tim Hunt’s bad joke: ‘the trouble with girls in science …’ cost him his job.
- February 2012 Jean-Paul Guerlain ‘working like a negro’ comments landed him in court.
- September 2009 Lloyd Blankfein Goldman Sachs CEO says ‘we do God’s work here…’
- May 1999 Glen Hoddle sacked for comments about disabled people paying for the crimes of their previous lifetimes.
If you can remember some I can’t, please do share.
- A Minute With The Media Coach: Presentation Training - August 12, 2019
- A Minute With The Media Coach: Avoiding Jargon - August 5, 2019
- Public Speaking: Getting The Tone Right - July 30, 2019
- Media Training Basics: On-Air Presence - July 9, 2019
- 10 Top Tips for Trade Press Interviews - July 3, 2019
- 8 Things Every Press Officer Should Have To Hand - June 25, 2019
- Our Advice to the Tory Leadership Candidates - June 11, 2019
- Media Interviews You Just Can’t Win - June 3, 2019
- Another Misspeak: Strachan Reminds us that Stream of Consciousness is Dangerous in a Media Interview - April 8, 2019
- Is your Message Boring but Important? Important but Complicated? - April 2, 2019