Lost in the media coverage of MPs on the take &, more understandably, the human cost of the recession, the campaign for justice over Hillsborough continues (www.contrast.org/hillsborough/ ). However, an ominous silence has descended from government circles in recent weeks over the question of whether all the unedited & re-written documents will be made available to the families.
The vacuum of uncertainty & evasion has been conducive for those who wish to peddle the same old lies about the disaster; any semi-literate no-mark with access to a keyboard & a web connection has been able to throw the darts of denigration into cyberspace. I could provide links to them but why give them the web credibility of a reference?
There is, however, one such cretin who should be identified for what he is. He isn't a blogger, columnist or mere poster. He is actually the main presenter of a US soccer radio show, broadcasting out of LA on the Sirius channel.
Steven Cohen hosts "World Soccer Daily". He is, though, no mere presenter. He is, instead, a shock-jock, the sort of individual whose ego is in inverse proportion to his IQ. Not content with trotting out his, erm, thoughts on the beautiful game, Cohen has also had a few things to say on the Hillsborough disaster over the past few years. It's the sort of stuff which the Sun peddled 20 years back & which Kelvin MacKenzie continues to spout.
I read about Cohen's sub-bar room utterances at the time of the memorial service last month. I decided not to blog about the specimen, reckoning that it would only serve to publicise both his programme & opinion. However, yesterday's Oldham Echo carried a slight & superficial piece [how unusual] to the effect that Cohen had apologised for his comments (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2009/05/20/us-radio-dj-apologises-to-liverpool-fc-fans-for-hillsborough-comments-100252-23670155/ ).
On first reading, the "apology" can be easily seen in the context of hard-headed commerce; the Echo reports:
"Four high-profile sponsors [of Cohen's programme] have already pulled out and it is understood satellite station Setanta are considering not renewing their contract when it expires."
However, the comments left in response to the Echo's article put the record straight. One, atcartlidge, declares, "This was simply an attempt to save his show from yet more sponsors pulling out. After the so-called apology, he continued to mock the sponsorship boycott and those who led it."
Another, Conor 40, writes, "a short and not very comprehensive piece by the Echo, was the Echo aware of Cohen before his so-called retraction?"
Clearly, the Echo wasn't; when Cohen's quotes were first reported during the anniversary, it failed to cover the story.
Another poster, based in the US, has added a YouTube link which neatly & succinctly presents the facts about the tragedy: http://www.youtube.com/user/96friend .
LFC TV departed from its normal format of public relations & nostalgia to feature Cohen's remarks. Margaret Aspinall, mother of one of the fans to perish 20 years' ago, spoke with quiet dignity & commendable restraint in expressing her views on the matter. Brian Reade, Daily Mirror columnist & life-long Liverpool fan, added his own thoughts in the studio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKiHHI0b2WQ .
As to the "apology" itself, it is prefaced by Cohen commenting that he has had enough of the "crap" surrounding his comments. He goes on to deliver a clearly-scripted statement which expresses regret for the hurt & distress his remarks caused to the families. However, he does not retract the offensive allegations & downright lies he has continually broadcast on his programme. The statement then takes a bizarre turn with Cohen declaring his love of America & invoking the First Amendment of the US Constitution (the right to free speech). Presumably this is Cohen's spurious justification for his actions; the Founding Fathers would be delighted to know that the constitution they devised is now used as a fig-leaf for a cretin's bigotry & ignorance.
Cohen concludes his apologia for an apology by audibly screwing up the paper on which it was written: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd28-tQgZTc .
I emailed my good mate, fellow Liverpool fan & senior editor at Time magazine in New York, Tony Karon (http://tonykaron.com/ ) with the LFC TV clip attached. Tony soon got back to me, saying, "Yeah, he's a total pillock, appears on Fox sometimes in his Chelsea shirt, ignorant, more than anything else, knows nothing about the game. Got the job, I think, because of his accent, in England he'd be laughed off TV."
Cohen has been exposed for what he is. His sponsors are deserting him & the station bosses must be wondering whether this liability is worth retaining.