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Journalist exposes embarrassing handling of Steve Bruce press conferences after reaction

4 months ago
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Steve Bruce is a man after Mike Ashley’s own heart (yes, apparently he has got one!).

As was the case with many of those (Pardew, McClaren, Carver, JFK) before him, Steve Bruce always willing and eager to do what it takes to deflect criticism away from Mike Ashley, always happy to follow the club PR script no matter how ridiculous it makes him (Bruce).

Steve Bruce has repeatedly shown over the past 20 months that he is happy to share the NUFC owner’s contempt for Newcastle fans, as well as the journalists who cover Newcastle United.

It is ironic that Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley have increasingly found the journalists a problem in recent months, when at the same time Newcastle fans overwhelmingly have seen it as a case of these same journalists being far too soft on Mike Ashley and his lackeys such as Lee Charnley and Steve Bruce.

Steve Bruce of course is the only one who the media have any kind of substantial access to…but is even that true now?

Chris Waugh of The Athletic responding via Twitter to Newcastle fans asking why journalists aren’t putting more pressure on Steve Bruce and indeed the whole club / Mike Ashley with questions at press conferences:

“I put my hand up in every press conference, before and after matches and have had one question permitted across the past half-a-dozen or so press conferences.

“It’s the same with the majority of written journalists.

“It [who gets to ask the questions] tends to rotate [in normal circumstances].

“They tend to allow different journalists – usually three – to ask questions on a (sort of) rotational basis, but also dependent on who raises their hand, which not every journalist does all the time (and not every journalist is in every press conference either).”

Chris Waugh here giving a bit more detail as to what normally happens in press conferences and what is now the reality with Steve Bruce and Newcastle United.

Other journalists have revealed that in recent times at Steve Bruce press conferences, the written journalists (newspapers etc as opposed to TV and Radio etc) have been stopped from asking any questions at all, or only one or two on other occasions, with then minimal, if any, chance to follow up their question(s) if Steve Bruce dodges the question or doesn’t give a satisfactory answer.

It is quite disgraceful, especially when Steve Bruce is the only point of contact for the media and indeed the Newcastle fans, via the journalists. Totally embarrassing behaviour from the likes of Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley and Steve Bruce but no surprise to the club’s supporters how this trio behave.

It is important for Newcastle fans to understand that the media covering NUFC is actually very much split into two camps and this is why we DO still see questions asked in the Steve Bruce press conferences.

The likes of Sky Sports and the BBC are ‘rights holders’ and therefore have the ‘right’ to still ask questions due to contractual arrangements. However, this doesn’t balance things up in any way.

You may be sceptical but it is the written / newspaper journalists who almost always have asked the difficult questions, the ones that Steve Bruce and the likes of Pardew, Carver, McClaren etc before him, would rather avoid. Which is exactly of course what Steve Bruce is doing now with Mike Ashley’s blessing, as well as taking advantage of it being extra difficult for journalists to press the Head Coach when press conferences happen via Zoom instead of in person.

The rights holders, BBC and Sky Sports etc, in comparison have been very embarrassing, with rare exceptions, in terms of holding Steve Bruce and the club to account. Their questions are invariably presented like PR opportunities for Steve Bruce to escape responsibility for the absolute mess there is at NUFC.

For example, before and after the recent shocking performance and result against a woeful West Brom where Steve Bruce clearly went for a goalless draw. The questions were generally prefaced with all the usual excuses that Bruce comes out with, along the lines of…’So Steve, with all the problems you have, the injuries, covid, your wife burning the bacon this morning…you must be happy with a point.’ Whereas of course Newcastle fans are screaming at their TVs saying this is now two wins in eighteen games and West Brom away was against a useless opposition and the easiest of Newcastle’s remaining games, a must win match in the eyes of supporters.

No doubt when speaking to Steve Bruce ahead of this crunch Brighton match at the weekend, the rights holders will be saying to Bruce how happy he must be to be unbeaten in three, rather than two wins in nineteen! Especially when Steve Bruce had for some time gone on about looking forward to these winnable games against Wolves, West Brom, Villa and Brighton…

It is a very cosy relationship between many of the rights holders and Newcastle United, nowhere more so than Sky Sports, where we have seen so often over the years the two working so closely together and truly shocking examples such as the ‘interviews’ Sky Sports have broadcast with the likes of Mike Ashley and his minions such as Dennis Wise, allowing them free rein to say whatever they want unchallenged.

They say the first casualty of war is the truth and in this situation at Newcastle United now, truth is a rare commodity, you only have to look at the promises from Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley 19 months ago, when ahead of Steve Bruce’s first match (Arsenal home – August 2019) they apologised for the way they had handled the media and by association the fans. They promised that going forward there would be far more openness and access for the media, to the likes of Lee Charnley, the club accepting that it was totally unacceptable to leave everything to the manager or head coach to be the sole point of contact for the club.

Now 19 months later, not only have those promises from Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley been shown to be embarrassing lies, we now have the usual sole point of contact, the head coach / manager, refusing to allow proper access and questioning by journalists.

Of course, Mike Ashley is no stranger to banning journalists during his almost 14 years owning Newcastle United.

Indeed, the NUFC owner has banned certain newspapers altogether for months on end.

The club’s fractious style relationship with the media in recent times had been building again to a point where it was inevitable a total ban for somebody was imminent, a couple of weeks we did indeed get that.

Craig Hope of The Mail banned by Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce, with his (Hope’s) journalist colleagues (from various other publications) commenting (see below) on both that AND the overall shambles that has become how Newcastle United and Steve Bruce in particular is treating the press.

Craig Hope of course the one that had the scoop this on conflict between Matt Ritchie and Steve Bruce, Ritchie calling Bruce a ‘coward’ and in response the 60 year old NUFC Head Coach claimed to have ‘shoulder-charged’ the winger. The man from The Mail following this up with other revelations about what has been happening behind the scenes with Steve Bruce and the Newcastle United playing squad.

The reaction two weeks ago after the pre-West Brom press conference and following the ban for Craig Hope:

Darren Lewis – Assistant Editor Daily Mirror:

“Newcastle moles are leaking stuff on Steve Bruce.

“Instead of banning Craig Hope for his fine work on it, Bruce should be looking at why the problem exists.

“The level of his players’ desire this weekend will be interesting.”

Scott Wilson – Chief Sports Writer Northern Echo:

“As an aside, it’s ironic Newcastle United have been arguing for openness, transparency and press access to an arbitration hearing on the same day they’ve banned a journalist for a story he wrote this week and are taking only minimal questions from written press at press conferences….”

Simon Bird – Football Reporter Daily and Sunday Mirror:

“Steve Bruce during his Zoom press conference this morning [ahead of West Brom].

“1 question called from national newspaper reporters in 23mins.”

Luke Edwards – Northern Football Reporter Daily and Sunday Telegraph:

“I stuck up for a colleague who has been banned and things cranked up a notch.

“Fascinating from start to finish…”

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