By James Owens
FIRST of all, a bit of relevant background. I was 16 days short of my fourth birthday on the 15th of April 1989. I live near the town of Stafford, where I was born to a Welsh father who prefers rugby and has no allegiance to any football club, and an Anglo-German mother who is a lapsed Stoke City fan.
I was a late comer to football. As I’ve long shared the Scouse indifference towards the national side, the admission that it took the jingoistic fervour of England’s 1998 World Cup campaign to make a football fan of me is slightly embarrassing. The fact that an 18 year-old Michael Owen’s emergence as a national hero had a part in determining my club allegiance (along with a Liverpool supporting best mate and a soft spot for the Scouse dialect and wit gained through family friends in West Derby) is a bit of a cringer all these years later as well.
Anyway, there you go. I’m a Red, but I have no real ties to the city, and even if I did I’d have been too young to have any meaningful recollection of Hillsborough.
Consequently, my anger at ESPN’s rumoured decision to employ Steven Cohen probably pales in comparison with that of those affected in any way by the disaster or old enough to recall it. But every matchgoing Red has got a selfish reason to be disgusted at the thought of one of the most outspoken peddlers of mistruths about Hillsborough being granted a platform by one of the biggest sports broadcasting networks in the world.
Imagine for a minute, however unpalatable a thought it may be, that there’s a crowd control issue at a Liverpool fixture at some point in the future. Let’s assume that once again, the blame lies principally with the policing and/or the stadium conditions rather than the supporters.
Because of the lies told in the aftermath of Hillsborough, I would be one of the thousands immediately assumed by many to be the principal cause of the trouble simply by virtue of having been there. We’d be widely suspected of being a load of misbehaving, ticketless drunks. Who wouldn’t bristle at the thought of that kind of ignorant condemnation? I know I do.
We all know that the residue of the wilful mistruths about ticketless fans steaming gates, pissing on police officers and pickpocketing the dead is stubborn enough to ensure that many peoples’ response in the event of any incident at a Liverpool match in the future would be to assume that we were the ones to blame. Social networking sites and message boards would be clogged with misinformed tosh to the effect of “it’s the Scousers, it’s not like they haven’t got form for this sort of thing, look at Hillsborough.” Mud sticks. Being subjected to taunts of “The Sun was right” and “you killed our own fans” at certain away games is enough to remind anyone of that.
All of which goes back to the lies told by people with power, responsibility and a trusting audience in the wake of the disaster. Some lied in a desperate bid to keep attention away from a trail leading to their own culpability (David Duckenfield et al, that’s you). Others were simply influential people with an axe to grind. People like Kelvin MacKenzie. People like former Tory MP for Sheffield Hallam Irvine Patnick.
And two decades later, people like Steven Cohen.
It emerged last Friday that ESPN would be employing Cohen, a Chelsea supporter and former host of the popular US radio shows World Soccer Daily and Fox Football Fone-In, as a football pundit. Between 2006 and 2009, Cohen claimed on several occasions that fans were to blame at Hillsborough on World Soccer Daily. That he also boasted about having chanted “murderers” at Liverpool fans in reference to the Heysel disaster and bizarrely described the Hillsborough Justice Campaign group as “corrupt” is evidence enough that he’s an antagonist with an intense dislike of our club.
Cohen’s most infamous and inflammatory comments came on the 13th of April 2009, two days before the 20th anniversary of the disaster, when he insisted that the 96 who lost their lives did so only because “six to eight thousand” ticketless Liverpool fans were “hell bent” on forcing their way into the Leppings Lane end. Since this claim of six to eight thousand fans without tickets has not been made by anyone else before or since, and as Cohen made no effort to substantiate it (never his strong suit), it was presumably plucked from the ether.
In the same broadcast, Cohen also claimed that the Hillsborough stadium had played host to matches “without incident” prior to the disaster. This comment was a remarkable display of ignorance from a man with the confidence to speak so unequivocally on the subject, as 38 Spurs fans had been injured at the Leppings Lane end on the day of Tottenham’s FA Cup semi-final against Wolves in 1981. The circumstances that day were disconcertingly similar to those which resulted in tragedy eight years later, the only significant difference being the absence of steel fenced pens on the terrace in 1981. Presumably Cohen was also unaware that the stadium’s safety certificate had not been renewed since 1979.
Predictably, Liverpool fans were outraged. The club issued a condemnation of Cohen’s lies, and the New York City Liverpool Supporters Club began a campaign warning the sponsors of World Soccer Daily of their intention to boycott their products and services. Cohen was even rebuked in a statement issued by the club he supports, with Chelsea at pains to stress that “giving Mr. Cohen oxygen is the last thing we would do.”
World Soccer Daily ended on the 21st of August 2009 after a number of sponsors, including Four Four Two magazine withdrew their support for the show. Cohen was adamant that the campaign against him had also cost him his job hosting the Fox Football Fone-In, and admitted during the show that the “very well organised” campaign led by the New York Supporters Club had fulfilled its objective.
Cohen’s persistent antagonism and disregard for the truth (notably the findings of the Interim Taylor Report) demonstrate his total and utter lack of integrity and credibility as a broadcaster, but the campaign prompted him to reveal an even more unpleasant side to his character. During the final World Soccer Daily broadcast, Cohen made reference to threats and anti-Semitic abuse from “the Liverpool contingent”, this despite having himself given the name and location of Antony Ananins, the founder of a Facebook group called ‘Putting Steven Cohen Straight’ on World Soccer Daily on the 28th of May and the 17th of July 2009.
If ESPN, assuming the rumours are true, were unaware of Cohen’s history, they’d be wise to reconsider the decision to hire him now, and do a bit more homework when recruiting in future. If they choose not to act, it’s time for them to start considering the possible impact of a boycott among fans of one of the best supported football clubs in the world.
Asking Cohen about the fate of World Soccer Daily would be a good start. They might also want to ask the people at News International what sales of The Sun have been like on Merseyside these past 22 years.
Also note that Cohen has now stopped supporting Chelsea as a result of them condeming his comments and the fact that they want no ties to him…a true football supporter he is not!!!
Yes I saw that said by somebody on Twitter last night arguing that he should be allowed to move on now. Reckoned the club had treated Cohen “horribly”. I’d be interested to know exactly how, but you can hardly blame Chelsea for going out of their way to distance themselves from the inaccurate and inflammatory comments of a serial antagonist on a very sensitive issue.
I read this article with interest.
I did not know about this Cohen fellow but now I know and understand how he ticks. He is nothing but a sensationalist who, by their very nature will say something controversial just to get a reaction.
I am not a Liverpool supporter, far from it but I believe the first-hand accounts of the survivors and not vermin like Cohen. He is obviously a hateful person and deserves all the adverse publicity he gets. Being of the Jewish faith he should know better than to deny the truth about tragedy.
ESPN should not disregard the feelings of the Hillsborough Disaster survivors or the rest of the city of Liverpool. If they ignore that, then more fool them.
Finally, I congratulate Chelsea on having the balls to disassociate themselves from this idiot.
So called “opinions” like Cohen’s that snub established facts and cite “freedom of speech” as their vindication are still lies and lies which must be denounced and countered by those who believe in truth, justice and respect, not least for those who are tragically no longer with us to defend themselves.
One would hope that any broadcasting company would promote truth, justice and respect as fundamental values at all levels of their organisation.
Justice for the 96.
Never heard of that Cohen, and I don´t think I´ll miss a lot when that continues to be so.
In 1989 I was 12, not even a Liverpool fan, and I might have seen the desaster in the news,though I can´t remember. My mum does, and we are not even from England.
Couple of weeks ago, when the online petition was announced for the full disclosure of all related gov. documents,my Mum asked why the people continue their fight?
As far as I see it, it´s mainly and above all about that media,politics, police, whoever responsible on that day, tells the truth. I don´t think it´s about getting money from the gouvernement or whoever would be in charge ;
They are expected to simply tell the truth, once;
to say-Yes,the police has made mistakes. The security was not granted. People made terrible mistakes when they had to make the right decisions without having time.
And, most of all-the Liverpool fans where not drunken,rioting bastards causing the death of 96.
Cohen´s statements are those of officials back in 1989, where football fans, as it seems, where mainly seen as not part of the good-behaving society.
I´d recommend that Mr. to read , at least ,”Hillsborough,The Truth” by Phil Scraton, and only to comment again on that Desaster when he´s deepened his knowledge with facts, not rumours and stupid comments.
Very well written article.
Is this ESPN US we are talking about? Don’t think ESPN UK would go around employing US pundits. No seems to mention what region it is!
You don’t know Cohen’s current views on the matter and it would do you well to ask. I made you well aware of this. You claim to have contacted Cohen in August but why would you have? He had not been a public figure in the game for almost a year. The truth about his current views will become known I hope at some point. Rather than accept it as the reflections of a person who lost his livelihood and a lot more and stepped off the stage to reflect, you will dismiss it. This has always been about destroying someone because you could, not about justice. Even at the end of the last boycott Cohen’s views had changed. This was ignored because of his claims about the boycott itself and threats made to him and his step children. At the end of the boycott it was no longer about Cohen’s views on Hillsborough, those had changed, but about the boycott itself. The question is when will it end. Given he has already recanted apologized etc., that was ignored, given he has changes his views, also ignore, given he suffered horribly from the last campaign, when will it end? Will you folk sit behind your keyboards and hound Cohen for the rest of his life? At some point, it just becomes sick. It has nothing to do with “Justice for the 96” at this point.
1.) Who are you to tell any of us that this campaign has nothing to do with justice for the 96 (and why put that in quote marks? I’m sure you’re not, but anyone who didn’t know better could be forgiven for thinking you were trying to express contempt).
Putting pressure on the government and authorities to admit what really happened, who was really responsible and to release the documents is one part of it.
Ensuring that people know that Cohen and his like are antagonistic liars is another. Anyone who didn’t know better and heard the things Cohen repeatedly said could easily conclude that those who lose their lives did so because of irresponsible behaviour among themselves, and the same applies for those injured and those present who were affected psychologically.
Doing everything to discredit a liar like Cohen also might just prevent wilful harm to our reputation as a whole here and now and in the future. Enough was damage done in the hours and days after the disaster, and you’ve only got to go to the wrong away game to be reminded of that or read the comments on just about any article on the disaster on the internet to know that.
As I said in the article, because of lies told not just in the immediate aftermath, but repeated by axe grinders like Cohen since, if there were any kind of crowd control incident, however minor or severe, at a future Liverpool game where supporters were again blameless, an awful lot of people would just assume it was our fault, just as they were told it was by the police, the politicians and the newspapers in the immediate aftermath of Hillsborough. And Cohen and anyone else who might want to lie (or at the very least in the first instance, spread mistruth) have no defence for doing so in the first place, and certainly none for continuing to do so when the Interim Taylor Report is out there along with plenty of better informed people eager to send them in the direction of it. Which brings me to my next point.
2.) You claimed last night on Twitter that Cohen “made a mistake”. Now I don’t know about you, but to me a mistake happens once, and when it comes to light, you retract what you said and apologise for any misunderstanding or offence caused. This didn’t happen just once though, did it Mark? This happened on several occasions between 2006 and 2009, including an inflammatory rant two days before the 20th anniversary, claims that the Hillsborough Justice Campaign group were “corrupt” and that Liverpool fans had “done brilliantly” out of Heysel and Hillsborough (pitch that to anyone who has ever been called a “murderer”, told that they “killed their own fans”, or better yet, to the relatives of any of the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough and see what they reckon).
Now, are you seriously telling me that the first time Cohen claimed that ticketless fans were the cause of the disaster, there weren’t people contacting him to say that he was wrong and should read the Taylor Report? I find that almost impossible to imagine.
As I explained to you last night on Twitter, other broadcasters and media outlets have made genuine mistakes in relation to Hillsborough before now. To give a recent example, a Swedish television programme mistakenly attributed the disaster to hooliganism in May of this year. Word of this mistake quickly got out on Twitter, and I was one of probably at least hundreds of people to politely point out that they had made a mistake, explain what actually happened and the offence and misunderstanding they could cause with what they said, and ask that they retract the initial report and apologise. On the following night’s broadcast, they did just that. Liverpool fans were appreciative of that and applauded it. Honest mistake quickly rectified.
Whatever correspondence Cohen received from people keen to point out that he’d got his facts wrong, he either ignored or dismissed, because he carried on. That is not a mistake, that’s wilful ignorance and wilful antagonism.
Has Cohen, at any point, ever sought to back his claim about “6-8,000 ticketless fans”? In the recordings I’ve listened to and the transcriptions I’ve read, both from World Soccer Daily and subsequent interviews, I’ve not seen or heard him make any attempt to do so.
Add that persistence and failure to actually support the claims together with the deeply offensive remarks about having “done brilliantly” out of Heysel and Hillsborough, his admission on World Soccer Daily that he chanted “murderers” at Liverpool fans in reference to Heysel, and you ought to be able to see why this was never taken simply as a case of someone having their facts wrong, but as someone with an axe to grind against Liverpool and Liverpool supporters telling lies (either knowingly or because it was what they preferred to believe to satiate their own pathetic prejudices, not that there’s much difference) going out of his way to misinform people and to cause hurt and anger in relation to an incredibly sensitive subject.
It’s very difficult to see Cohen’s despicable campaign of lies as anything other that: a deliberate and concerted effort to damage the reputation of Liverpool supporters unjustly, and to cause anger and offence among us out of little if anything more than dislike. If you don’t like the prospect of people holding a grudge and doing what they reasonably can (and let me emphasise, reasonably, because I’m obviously not going to condone or defend people making threats as some are alleged to have) to deny you a platform in the future (and one with a big audience at that), don’t go out of your way to tell deeply offensive lies which are quite obviously going to make you a lot of enemies.
Oh, and if Cohen’s views had changed so dramatically at the end of the last boycott, how do you explain his comments during this interview, in the wake of World Soccer Daily coming to an end?
Go to 01:27. You’ll hear him say “my view stands” and talking about “shared responsibility.” If there’s any change there, it’s negligible, and Cohen doesn’t appear to recognise it himself, insisting as he does that his view “stands”.
Then, if you go to 01:50, you’ll hear him question the veracity of the Taylor Report as though it were the sort of cover up some believe to have taken place in the wake of the Kennedy assassination and the 9/11 attacks (despite trying to cite it later on in the same interview as saying that “some” fans turned up without tickets, conveniently ignoring how it concluded that any that did weren’t part of the cause).
Cohen also denies ever using the word “blame” in relation to Liverpool fans, and insisted he only ever talked about “shared responsibility.” This despite talking about Liverpool fans as the “perpetrators” of Heysel and Hillsborough on World Soccer Daily earlier in 2009.
3.) And frankly, if his views have changed so dramatically between that interview and now and he regrets slinging mud and peddling mistruths repeatedly on what was, as I understand it, a pretty popular radio show among US football fans, why should we care if he has made no effort to tell us and to apologise? We’re none the wiser are we? At no point in the article do I personally claim to have made any attempt to contact him, but I know that people more involved in this site have, and that they haven’t had much joy.
4.) And even if he did apologise and accept the credible evidence, should we even have to care? It’s a bit late now. Should anyone be entitled to expect forgiveness when, in the face of all that credible evidence and, no doubt, people trying to point out their mistakes from the outset, that they’ve persistently lied about a tragedy to a large and probably quite impressionable audience, quite possibly for no better reason than personal prejudice against the group affected?
If I’d gone out of my way to cause offence to a group of people and tell lies with the intention of damaging their reputation – or at the very least, knowing that I could, I wouldn’t blame those people if they weren’t interested in my apologies and insistence that I’d changed my views two years down the line. Not that we’ve had any, and not that Cohen didn’t have plenty of time and opportunity to educate himself before and as the controversy surrounding his comments reached its peak.
Get back to us when Cohen comes out and apologies unreservedly, confirms his acceptance of every credible account of what happened at Hillsborough and makes it clear that regrets his campaign of offensive mistruths. Until then you’re wasting your time insisting that his views might have changed, because whether they have or not is neither here nor there if he doesn’t come out and tell us. And even if he does all that, don’t bank on too much sympathy for him. Even if he made honest mistakes at first (and looking at his record of comments about Liverpool, it’s hard not to suspect it was simply a case of choosing from the word ‘go’ to believe a version of events which best matched some pathetic prejudices), they clearly weren’t by the time people were boycotting the sponsors of World Soccer Daily.
Who’s throwing stones now?
Firstly, we did try to contact Cohen twice this year about another matter that he had a hand in but not directly related to what he did or didn’t say about Hillsborough, I know this because it was myself who tried to contact him.
Secondly, the apology that he drafted after his sponsors deserted him isn’t worth the paper its written on, as shortly after he was recorded stating he never meant it and he only said it to try and save his career.
Thirdly, you are in absolutely no position to act as thought police on this matter, if Cohen is such an upstanding guy, tell him to get in touch and we’ll have a chat, I imagine he’s quite keen now that he’s been exposed yet again.
I seem to recall that his last “apology” fell well short of actually apologizing for his comments and was more of a lament that people would not leave him alone to slander them in peace.
I moved to the US in 2005 and quickly turned to the Fox Football Fone-In as, at that time, one of the only footy shows in the US. I almost quickly turned it off. He spent an inordinate amount of each broadcast slandering LFC, it’s supporters, manager, and even tried to stir a ‘race hate’ debate around the “Yanks Out’ chants directed at Hicks & Gillett, claiming to be offended as a converted US citizen.
The one thing he would never do, however, was allow genuine LFC fans airtime on the show to refute his claims, lies, or slander. The man is, was, and always will be a coward.
If, as you say, his views about Hillsborough have changed, I suspect that change is born out of economic expediency and a thirst to be back in the limelight, rather than any genuine contrition for the wrongs he so regularly, willingly, and gleefully perpetuated against our club.
Now, all that besides, ESPN need their heads testing anyway to seriously consider employing him as a football pundit. All of his football “knowledge” is gleaned off the back pages of the previous days tabloid newspapers, and to (mis)quote our greatest ever player “my wee baby talks more sense than he does.”
It is ESPN US.
You might want to add in your article that he then went on to start a successful subscription podcast after World Soccer Daily ended its run. You should also note that many of the major journalists in the UK and around the world continued to appear in interviews on his show.
You’re also kidding yourselves if you don’t think ESPN knows about this. That company does their research.
I’m aware that it relaunched as World Football Daily a couple of months later, but from what I could gather (not having listened to it), Cohen wasn’t involved as much as he had been with World Soccer Daily. Presumably then he was quite strongly involved.
Nevertheless, the point stands as World Soccer Daily disappeared and had to be relaunched because of the pressure put on its sponsors after the response Cohen provoked.
Regarding what ESPN know (assuming they have hired him, as it’s all gone very quiet since last Friday when Cohen was talking to people about it on his Twitter account which then disappeared over the weekend), I made reference to the possibility that they don’t know about Cohen’s past not so much because I believe that that’s likely, but in case they do (negligent as that would be).
Excellent article. In Andy Maddox comment he talks about Mr Cohen’s faith and that he should know all about exposing the truth. I whole heartedly agree. JFT96
Uhm, ESPN is an AMERICAN company. The heads of ESPN UK ultimately have to answer to their American bosses. But yes, it does sound like it was a venture designed for American broadcast.
Mark Sawyer, please tell me where we can find evidence of Cohen changing his thoughts of Hillsborough. I used to listen to WSD and his ‘apology’ was nearly as disgusting as his previous comments. I have heard nothing since from him, but if you can show where we can find evidence of a changing of his belies, I would be interested in seeing it.
At the end of the day, an employer (and it’s customers) deserve to know if they’re hiring someone that has the credibility to produce the goods that the customers sought for.
The customers here are the viewers, obviously.
The question is, has Cohen demonstrated any credibility whatsoever to provide a balanced view backed by documented facts (not views or thoughts, but genuine acceptable facts) for his ‘livelihood’. It only takes his comments over Hillsborough, over a period of considerable duration, as late as 2009, to equivocally answer this question with a resounding NO.
He has no credibility.
Now couple the lack of credibility with his antagonist attitude.
This is not about a set of fans moaning over some lost game.
This is about the deaths of people. Family members, loved ones. Doesn’t matter if it’s 96 or 1. It will strike a raw nerve, anywhere, anytime.
Instead of questioning whether he deserves to continue his livelihood, (water under the bridge, etc.) why not question what the new employers and the employers’ customers deserve for spending a part of their livelihoods and their emotions to listen to Cohen.
Now, had he apologized, not attempt, but genuinely apologized and demonstrated that he’s willing to build his credibility by doing more homework….
Fantastic article, James.
I do have contempt for the boycott. At a point, they were aware that people of substance that Cohen could not ignore came to him because 1. We thought he was wrong and had done real harm to people. 2. Things were getting out of hand and 3. It was just the right thing to do.
Experts were consulted and Cohen was given a full seminar by people he trusts on the issue. Including he was shown how if there was any bias in the Taylor report it was to go too easy on the authorities and focus on structural problems that could be fixed via reforms. I am well aware of this because I was that person. I consulted Professor Phil Scraton. We discussed the situation. I have subsequently congratulated him on his role on a board that was successful in winning the release of additional documents.
The people in charge of the boycott were well aware of all of this. They wanted Cohen to recant that he had been threatened. Cohen would not do so because it was not true. He had been threatened. They wanted Cohen to claim he had fabricated all violent or racist contact by Liverpool fans. That was simply not true.
Cohen also came to believe that has this current attack proves, no matter what he said it would never matter. By demonizing a person, there would also be enough Liverpool fans giving how little effort it takes to whip up a frenzy on this issue, it would never go away. He ended the WSD show.
Subsequently Kenny Hassan convinced him to start a new venture WFD. Cohen stayed on full time for over a year daily, but the episode had sapped his love of the game etc. away. He need time away to reflect and deal with personal issues some of them part of the fall out of the boycott. He voluntarily stepped away but in the meantime he had been on the air and while bitter about the boycott never discussed the issue.
Days before WSD was taken off the air Cohen had published the following. It is notable I edited two versions of this, one in the form of a “press release.” Both were posted. I used the “way back” machine on the net to try to find the link. It exists on the old site but the link does not work. The text is posted below.
In recent months there has been a cloud surrounding the show. That cloud was generated first by comments by me and later by the response largely by supporters of Liverpool FC. I apologized for those comments but I recognize that my anger at the time due to attacks on my family and I, may have made others think my apology was insincere. I want to say that I am concerned about the cloud around the WSD community and the broader football community in the US.
In an attempt to lift that cloud and also stop some of the hate speech directed toward me, I asked some supporters of the show to reach out to the boycotters in an attempt to see what if anything they wanted in order to end the boycott. On our own we presented a proposal from me that would help end this boycott and the nastiness circulating on the internet. Folks worked tirelessly and made a good faith offer.
The door was slammed in our faces. The anger and personal vendetta against me were too big of mountain to climb in ending this dispute. Most of all I worry about how some of the things said, have harmed innocents: the victim’s families at Hillsborough, the Jewish community, the staff at WSD, and sponsors who have become pawns in this dispute. Unfortunately, they have suffered, and while I am partially to blame the boycotters have proceeded without regard to this and have not been willing to work in good faith to bring the dispute to an end.
So, I am going to take action that I hope will reach out to elements in the club and the victims who may have been hurt. But most of all those who have open hearts and minds. I am taking the actions I proposed to offer in order to end the boycott on my own without any assurance this will end the boycott, because it is the right thing to do. That begins with this statement and the need for a more complete apology that helps heal this rift in the WSD community.
First, I must put my words about Hillsborough in context. I have frequently criticized negative elements among the fans of Liverpool FC. I wind up the members of many clubs around the world, and it is part of the show, but I want to be clear about something in particular. At times, my jokes etc. about Liverpool FC have crossed a line and been inappropriate. The best example of this is when I connected those critiques to the events that occurred at Hillsborough where 96 innocent football fans died in an incident.
For that I most of all apologize to the families of the victims Their grief is unimaginable to me. If my comments opened a wound for them in any way I am deeply sorry. I also feel it is my responsibility to clarify my stance on the issue.
I made some statements I honestly felt were consistent with the best available accounts of what happened that terrible day. I thought my statements were consistent with the Taylor report. On further examination I made a series of claims that were incorrect. I claimed on air there were 6 to 8 thousand ticketless fans and I also claimed those fans were the cause of the tragedy. I did not see my statement that there was “shared responsibility” for the incident as in contradiction with the basic claims of the Taylor Report (link) . I was wrong.
Those claims were incorrect and obviously hurtful to the victims of the tragedy. There is no direct evidence of how many ticketless fans were there that fateful day, and even if there were ticketless fans, the Taylor report definitively confirms that the incident could have occurred regardless of their presence. Thus, my claim that Liverpool fans share responsibility was on one hand misunderstood as hatred of the victims, but was also both incorrect and in contradiction to the best available evidence. I repeat the tragedy could have occurred with or without ticketless fans as the central problem was the issue of stadium design, crowd control procedures and the tragic actions of authorities responsible for public safety that day.
As I said, the events “I am referring to could have happened to any club, in any sport, in any country at any public gathering. This is proved by events in the Ivory Coast recently as well as in South America, Ghana, the old Soviet Union etc…”
The central issue is the question of crowd control and systems in place that protect fans who show up to support their club or national team and we all agree should return home to their loved ones. Authorities and not fans are responsible for crowd control as our friend Tim Vickery has suggested, and they should be held responsible when they fail.
I apologize if my incorrect statements have caused pain for the families and friends of those who lost their lives. I struggle to understand your grief. And deeply believe as a football community we must strive for a day when no fan who attends a match anywhere in the world risks death or bodily harm.
Thus, I apologize to families of the victims, sponsors of the show, and listeners for opening old wounds and doing it in a completely inappropriate way and time. In response to this I am taking the following actions:
I will post this apology on my website where it will remain. I will not mention the issue of blame for Hillsborough again on the show. Though callers may bring up the incident, I do not want to censor speech.
I will donate 5% of the funds donated to sustain WSD to the HJC campaign. If they refuse to accept it as is their right and they are more than likely to do, then that amount is donated to soccer related charities in Africa.
I am asking that Liverpool FC and their fans club cleanse public message boards of hate speech and threats directed at me. I also ask they assist authorities investigating the manner in any way possible.
I ask that supporters of WSD not boycott former sponsors of the show but remind them of how much you support the show and urge them back. I also urge supporters of the show to refrain writing the organizers of the boycott. These actions can perpetuate the antagonism and continue the cycle of hate. It needs to stop today, once and for all.
Other than to call on listeners to support sponsors etc. I will not refer to the boycott or the boycotters. They are free to continue to pursue the boycott. But I hope they will not as innocents are harmed one way or the other. I am willing to talk to the organizers off air, but I my hope is it might not be necessary as I sincerely believe I have taken steps to heal the antagonism. For some it may never be enough but again, I pray there are those out there with open hearts and minds.
WSD is a central hub of the football community in America. That community must be free of hate and must represent the best values we have to offer. That stands for me and that stands for fans of Liverpool FC. Hate has no place in that community. We also must all work to insure the safety of supporters. I hope that we can all work together from here and put these issue behind us. I want to hear from sober minded Liverpool fans who enjoy the show and support our sponsors and who reject hate. I myself will work to be more temperate in my assessments, though the show will always be a space for free speech and argument in our hopefully growing community here in America and for the world audience.
With that I say I am sorry, and hope we can move on together from here.
My understanding is the above reflects his beliefs as of August or so 2009. Haven’t discussed it with him, but honestly have only seen him in passing. My guess is if ESPN allows him to, they are a big company, he will put something similar out.
You will of course claim he does not mean it. It’s up to you. The guy suffered a lot for being really stupid and mean spirited in his comments. However, there was a point where the boycott itself went well beyond “justice” and toward just ruining an individual. It also turned into hatred for the guy that obviously continues.
Cohen will state his beliefs on the topic as evidenced above. Liverpool fans will say Cohen doesn’t mean it and the band will play on.
You guys also continue to tell Cohen to “get in touch” at this point is Cohen supposed to personally discuss this matter with every Liverpool fan on the face of the earth? Is he supposed to correspond with every liverpool fan website? What difference will it make? If there is a statement it will be released via ESPN and if it reflects Cohen’s views, it will restate the above in some form.
He could just correspond with the club couldn’t he? Anything he wished to say to them or via them could be brought to everyone’s attention pretty quickly.
I’ll address your other posts later.
I would in no way condone the threatening of a person’s family, of anti-Semetism or any other hate speech.
To treat all who boycott Corden as perpetrators of the aforementioned actions is, however, ridiculous. Unless you have evidence that the organizers of the boycott made those threats themselves, which Corden has implied by association in the past.
I highly doubt it.
Perhaps his apology, which is the first time I’ve seen it, would be more easy to accept if it wasn’t one single, written and prepared example of his regret in comparison to the bile he spewed from his mouth across a few years.
It also might be welcomed with the open hearts and minds that Corden wants (and that he has struggled greatly to exemplify) that he is is truly sorry if he didn’t spend so much of his time blaming the Liverpool fans he offended so egregiously for the current state of affairs.
“In an attempt to lift that cloud and also stop some of the hate speech directed toward me,” doesn’t strike me as the motivation of the contrite. Apparently this “cloud” started with Corden but was then the responsibility of Liverpool fans.
If I were to do something so heinous as to besmirch the memories of 96 innocent victims I would accept that their anger would be my fault.
Yet Corden spends time throwing as much blame as he accepts. Again it doesn’t feel like the response of a contrite individual.
Corden has tried to equate the reprehensible threats of a few with the utterly reasonable distaste felt by the vast majority of those who have heard his previous ignorant diatribes.
In regards to feeling sorry for him that he is having his livelihood threatened, could you think of a broadcaster on any respectable television or radio station who would not lose their career over claiming that the victims of Hillsborough were to blame for their own demise? That the families of those victims who grieve their loss, caused their horrific deaths?
Any news or sports person making such claims today would need to find a new career avenue.
Just as I would expect any television mouthpiece spouting any other ignorant bigotry to lose their career.
Yet somehow Corden is to be forgiven and let back on the airwaves. The same person who indignantly stated in 2009 that the death of those people can not be considered to be “in the same league” as 9/11 and other atrocities.
Ask the families of the 96 and see how they respond to that.
We are meant to think it is ok that someone who spent a few years stating that a report he never read wasn’t true, had a revelation that he was wrong when someone sat down and explained it to him. As if people weren’t justified in being angry with him. Even if he felt he was right surely he would understand why people wold be angry if he was wrong? After such rage and thousands of protestations from fans that he had got his facts wrong, did he across those years go and read the report to find out for himself? No he didn’t. He had to wait for people of “significance” to explain it to him. Apparently the people he offended just weren’t significant enough for him at the time.
This same bastion of integrity is someone we should say bygones to now so he can get back to broadcasting his opinions.
Should we respond with hate-speech? Of course not.
Should those who despise Corden due to the things that he said exercise their right to make their opinion heard and remind broadcasters of what he has claimed in the past?
That is completely up to them.
But to blame the indignation of many thousands instead of the reprehensible actions of Corden is insulting.
Instead of asking Liverpool fans why they should continue hounding Corden, perhaps you should ask why any media outlet would touch him with a barge-pole?
That’s what Liverpool fans are asking, and they’ve got every right to.
Scott- this is exactly the point. In the grand scheme of things. Whatever Cohen says never satisfies. Yes, in August or so of 2009 he was quite angry. You would be too. His family was threatened etc.
I do lots of social justice campaigning and when I do I take responsibility for what I say and how people respond. The campaign sought to demonize him as an individual. It got real personal and people who lack self control naturally lost sight of the issues and took it too far. As someone who does campaigns if you demonize someone in that fashion such a response is not unexpected, it is fairly predictable.
At the end that was the bind. Not amount of change of heart etc. could ever chip away at the hatred that was built up.
Further, what ESPN and others in the US know that you won’t hear is that Cohen did a lot to bring the game and the BPL to a much wider audience in the US.
At the time boycotters suggested, that the daily format on major accessible outlet in the US would be replaced, it has not been. We missed such an outlet for the 2010 World Cup a huge setback for the game.
The daily talk show format in the US is a key way especially fans so far from the action can immerse themselves in the game. Cohen has a following in the US, not because of his views about Hillsborough because he’s a good broadcaster with a vision for how to promote the game.
World Soccer Daily was never about Hillsborough. It comprised about 3-4 minutes of thousands of hours of broadcasts. I don’t know of anyone who tuned in to hear Cohen’s opinions about crowd control tactics.
World Football Daily a show with a much smaller audience due to a limited platform and no ability to recruit advertisers was actually much better. Cohen had learned that wind ups, and anger and hatred were not productive.
In the end my guess is he’s said nothing because he feels the cycle will just continue. Sadly he’s probably right.
“World Soccer Daily was never about Hillsborough. It comprised about 3-4 minutes of thousands of hours of broadcasts.”
– And after decades as a successful manager and a fairly popular co-commentator/panellist it took Ron Atkinson all of five seconds in 2004 to use just about the most offensive racist slur of the lot to describe Marcel Desailly (along with describing him as “fucking lazy” and “thick”) when he thought he was off air as a co-commentator. That didn’t mean he didn’t deserve the sack and almighty condemnation from all quarters. Saying what he said did irreparable damage to his broadcasting career and that was exactly what he deserved. I don’t see how Cohen is any different after the lies he repeated time and again, generally a very inflammatory tone.
There is an awful lot amiss with that apology above, particularly given what Cohen had to say to Newstalk within a matter of day. I’ll address that later when I have time as it will take a fair bit of writing again.
As far as I know you folk don’t show up everytime Atkinson gets a job and demand he be fired no?
Well individually some of us might, although Atkinson screwed his career up so badly that any work he gets now is of such a low profile that it scarcely registers.
But I do apologise Mark. I forgot that because there are wrongs relating to Hillsborough that Liverpool fans want to set right, we’re obliged to chip in with every other battle against injustice or wrongdoing across the world, otherwise we’re hypocrites.
By that rationale, the Hillsborough Justice Campaign group should feel entitled to active involvement and operational support from the people behind the ‘Kick It Out’ campaign against racism. Does that make sense?
You used the example not me. My point is this kind of attack is unprecedented and gratuitous. You also talk to me like I don’t do social justice work. All kinds of organizations work in solidarity on campaigns. It is bridge building that you do when you are a social justice organization. I know you don’t speak for the justice campaign, my guess is they probably do this kind of work. Most social justice organizations do.
In that case then, how well placed are you to cast doubt on what else they do or on what those of us who support the campaign for justice in relation to Hillsborough also support?
The reason I made the comparison Mark, was to answer your defence of Cohen on the basis that his offensive claims about Hillsborough amounted to only a few minutes of the thousands of hours of broadcast time of World Soccer Daily. I was trying to show, by way of another example, why that is absolutely no defence. Atkinson ruined his own career in a matter of seconds, I’ve no sympathy if Cohen has ruined his over minutes spread across multiple broadcasts, between which he could have listened to people’s pleas for him to acquaint himself with the credible accounts of what happened at Hillsborough.
In the United States there are broadcasters who daily say things like the victims of hurricane Katrina were at fault. Or that disasters hit localities like New Orleans because of “Gays”. There is a lot more tolerance for daft and ridiculous opinions on this side of the pond. In all reality what Cohen says doesn’t even get people that wound up in the United States. It is only the fact that American Liverpool fans were showing off for their friend across the pond that they acted all outraged. Any American can turn on their television or radio dial on a daily basis and here things thousands of times more outrageous than Cohen’s statements.
Some talk show hosts make light of the history of lynching in America or slavery. If profiling is the issue about 60% of the American public thinks pofiling is okay. Many talk show hosts justify profiling, torture, slavery, segregation etc. A Presidential candidate for a major party just suggested that slavery was not so bad and to the degree it was the founding fathers were against it.
Governors of states deny that the civil war in the United States had anything to do with slavery and that it was about “Northern Aggression”. A major talk show host and political pundit put out a pledge that was signed by major candidates for President that included that statement to the effect that black families were better off under slavery in contemporary America.
Cohen lived in the US when he made the comments. He was in the US army when Hillsborough occurred. I might understand why folks from the UK might find his statements outrageous. But any American feigning outrage to impress folks in the UK is really selling bullshit. More outrageous stuff is routinely said every day and I don’t hear a peep from these folks.
Only one recent campaign was successful. That was CNN a legitimate News Outlet had a host Lou Dobbs who daily would attack immigrants in the most racist fashion possible. Dobbs continually reported fake crime numbers, fake disease scares things that were not true.
Dobbs was on CNN for 10 years doing this stuff. The show was “about” immigration. He did the topic everyday. It wasn’t just a 3-4 minute rant in thousands of hours of broadcasting.
Dobbs is now on Fox and has a show. Not to mention he still has a radio show. If people are really concerns about “hate” radio Cohen hardly registers.
Start with people who spew hate and lies about people daily who reach millions and work your way down. It will be a lifetime in the US before you got to Cohen. A guy who went on a rant apologized for it.
But of course the people subjected to daily hate and insults are not Liverpool fans. And that makes all the difference.
Wrong is wrong Mark. And I pity people having to put up with shock jock culture in the US.
I see you’re returning to the argument that because Liverpool fans were victims of an injustice, we’re somehow hypocrites for not pitching into every other battle against any injustice in the world. Because that’s practical.
Cohen peddled mistruths, was pressured to apologise, then started them again. I find it hard to believe that he didn’t have every opportunity to educate himself. Maybe America would be a better place if the people you talk about were pressured to do the same.
“In the United States there are broadcasters who daily say things like the victims of hurricane Katrina were at fault. Or that disasters hit localities like New Orleans because of “Gays”. There is a lot more tolerance for daft and ridiculous opinions on this side of the pond. In all reality what Cohen says doesn’t even get people that wound up in the United States. It is only the fact that American Liverpool fans were showing off for their friend across the pond that they acted all outraged. Any American can turn on their television or radio dial on a daily basis and here things thousands of times more outrageous than Cohen’s statements. ”
That’s a terrible analogy, because soccer in America is a niche sport followed by a tiny minority of people, in which WSD was the most influential podcast. It isn’t like having the option of turning off Fox news and reading the Huffington Post instead. Cohen played on the advantage of having an impressionable audience and zero competition. That’s why he thought he could get away with saying whatever he liked with impunity. It’s obvious to anyone who cares to think about it for more than two seconds.
“But of course the people subjected to daily hate and insults are not Liverpool fans. And that makes all the difference.”
Sorry, but that’s just fucking nuts. Any social work you do, or causes you support, are by your logic immoral since they by definition don’t include every fucking person on the planet.
“Start with people who spew hate and lies about people daily who reach millions and work your way down. It will be a lifetime in the US before you got to Cohen. A guy who went on a rant apologized for it. ”
That’s downright immoral. So because in your opinion some people say worse stuff than Cohen, the protest is wrong? If it’s ok with you, I’ll be the judge of what I want to fucking protest about. How would you like it people said you only campaigned on race issues because you were black? And before you blow a fuse – that is an analogy about the logic you are applying to this situation, it is not equating the two.
You imply that in the US Cohen is but a drop in the ocean. Well what is the ocean if not a multitude of drops?
Bravo lad, bravo
“It is only the fact that American Liverpool fans were showing off for their friend across the pond that they acted all outraged.”
So Cohen lies about Liverpool fans on a show in the US and when fans from the US call him out on it, they’re just showing off their friends across the pond? You want to educate US fans, but accuse those that do know the truth of simply wanting to prove a point to their UK counterparts.
Also, since worse things are supposedly said daily in America, that makes it alright then for Cohen to repeatedly slander Liverpool fans?
Lastly, we all pick our causes to fight. Much as some of us would like to, we cannot pick up cudgels on behalf of them all. So, by your definition, even Mother Teresa isn’t good enough, because she merely helped the poor in Calcutta and not all over the world
Very good points.
You seem to be under the impression that I’m unaware of the media in the United States, I’ve been living here since 2006.
You are right, there are media outlets who tolerate some intensely bigoted idiots over here, hence my assertion that reputable outfits wouldn’t stand for it.
I am disgusted by some of the vile rhetoric broadcast here, frankly I avoid most television for that reason.
You believe that because there are more widely known raging idiots in this country that Liverpool fans don’t have the right to be offended by Cohen. That is almost as ridiculous as your following statement:
“It is only the fact that American Liverpool fans were showing off for their friend across the pond that they acted all outraged”
And you wonder why people are angry.
From that line alone, you apparently have absolutely no understanding about the impact that Hillsborough had on the club and its identity.
The idea that you can dismiss with a generalization any anger held by thousands of people as being an act is just offensive.
If you wish to be taken seriously, show some respect to those you are addressing.
Incidentally Mark, has it ever occured to you that US based Liverpool fans might actually have wanted to prevent an antagonistic mudslinger like Cohen from giving an audience who might know relatively little about Hillsborough the mistaken impression that it was caused by “6-8,000” ticketless Liverpool fans “hell bent” on getting in?
Note- what’s posted above indicates a change in opinion on that very issue a result of hard work by others. James simply ignores it.
There are *a* few issues with the apology, that should have read. I’ll address them shortly.
I’m about to address that when I have the time Mark. There are few issues with the substance of that apology given what Cohen said in the subsequent interview with Newstalk in Ireland.
Okay I believe it was posted post Newstalk in part prompted by that. He sounded stupid. When did he do newstalk. Note I had an newborn infant at the time and spent lots of time trying to forget these issues. I don’t have a precise calendar, which is why I tried to find the stuff on the web.
You won’t believe anything. Jesus Christ himself could come tell you Cohen changed his mind and you still demand he be punished.
I am certain if Cohen is allowed, something will come out shortly.
If it does, I’m sure a lot of people will have a number of questions as to why it took him nearly two years (if the claims in the apology you wrote are correct) to do what God knows how many people must have urged him to do and look at the credible evidence, questions about what on earth made him feel it was quite alright to make jokes about Hillsborough, and to describe a group set up to campaign for justice as “corrupt”. For a start.
So first of all you accuse the guys here at the site of never trying to find out what Cohen thought.
They tell you they have, you initially don’t believe them.
Then you assert that he has no good reason to speak to sites like TAW, which doesn’t exactly sound like a man who feels awful about how offensive his remarks have been.
I haven’t seen any examples of him offering apologies anywhere out of his comfort zone, he put his apology on his own website and that’s the only example of him accepting that his views were wrong.
Now no one will believe anything he says so it isn’t worth him trying.
You really do want the moral high ground in every way don’t you?
James Owens– there were ways to deal with that. In fact at the end of the day the tactic that a forum like WSD had to disappear polarized people around Liverpool fans but also around Hillsborough itself. This was extremely counter productive for American fans. Those of us who got involved actually got involved to preserve WSD as a forum but also to make sure that people did not conflate support for WSD that played a vital role in US fan culture with callous views towards the victims. There were a myriad of opportunities to work productively to do something like that and mediate the situation. All were rejected. Destory the show and Cohen was seen as the “only” solution. That did nothing to educate US fans about the issues. In fact, it was myself and others in forums and elsewhere who really fought to make sure the truth got out.
You will never hear an argument that it isn’t important truth be told, that people should hold authorities accountable and where false information is offered it needs to be rebutted.
The actual tactics of the campaign worked against that. Efforts to do just that were rejected in favor of “punishing” Cohen.
You guys don’t build bridges, you don’t educate, you don’t reach out. All you do is attack and bully and in the context of the US that is what you appear to be. That’s because worse stuff goes on everyday.
James, I know more about this than you do. Critical attempts to educate US fans using the forum of WSD were rejected because Cohen must never work again was the demand.
So all these bigger issues were subordinate to “punishing Cohen.”
You were involved Mark, fair play. However, it doesn’t take being involved to know what Cohen said, it’s out there for anyone to hear or to read. Not once, not twice, but on several occasions. If you fail to understand the enduring anger at that, when the man had plenty of opportunity to figure out why he’d caused such offence and retract his views (but took nearly two years to get anywhere near to doing it… if he did at all, and I’ll get to that in reply to the apology posted above), then I’m afraid we’re stuck at odds.
And petulant arguments about the relative triviality of Hillsborough compared to other injustices do not wash. It’s like saying that because the banks and lenders did so much to plunge the world into an economic crisis by being irresponsible with people’s money, a man who lends another man £1000, has to chase the debt for nearly two years and then gets only a fraction of his money back is wrong to warn other people not to lend to the guy or trust him. Wrong is wrong. Cohen had every opportunity to get his facts straight early on. He failed to do that, and persisted with his antagonism and crass mud slinging over nearly two years. By doing so, he made enemies. He’s every right to complain about personal threats but no business whatsoever objecting when people don’t want him given a public platform again. You only have to look at his track record.
I was one of many that emailed the sponsers at the time. Always respectfully.
LFC fans are not to blame in any way for ruining this mans life. For blame, he only has to look in the mirror.
As has been said earlier in the comments section, This wasn’t one isolated incident, this was a continued attack on the fans of Liverpool FC.
If he honestly thought he could say anything he wanted on air, without consequences, then I pity his lack of intellect in this decision.
He knew he would cause offence, each time he spoke of the disaster. Yet he carried on, again and again and again.
The boycot didn’t go to far, he did. He was the one and only reason for his own fall from grace.
Hear hear. Any kind of personal threats or intimidation tactics are a long way too far (though there’s evidence and allegations to the effect that Cohen was guilty of some of this himself) whichever side you’re on, but Cohen persisted.
Morale of the story Mark…
Don’t lie about Liverpool or it’s fans, don’t try to fuck us over because we won’t take it lying down like most folk.
We’ll fuck you over a million times more and we’ll never forget.
Ask The S*n, ask Hicks and Gillett
ohh common mark… Cohen sent threats himself to a lad who was at the forefront of the boycott..
He’s not the saint you’re trying to make him out to be…
What ever he’s getting he deserves it..
“Scott- this is exactly the point. In the grand scheme of things. Whatever Cohen says never satisfies.”
For the love of Jehovah. He’s never said anything.
How hard is this to understand? Why is it so difficult to comprehend? He. Has. Never. Apologized.
He. Has. Never. Apologized.
Except for the time he said “let’s put this crap to bed…there was shared responsibility…the boycotters are anti-semitic…I have freedom of speech..this is America” etc – before audibly screwing up the paper the apology was written on and throwing it in the bin.
Here’s the problem I have with the apology you have posted above.
a) You wrote it.
b) That’s it.
Does that make sense?
That apology you posted above was written by you. Not only did he not write it, he hasn’t endorsed it, signed it, or made any public declaration of support of it whatsoever. As James said above – we are none the wiser. By virtue of the fact that I am an LFC fan living in America I have followed this tawdry episode closely, and this is the first time to my knowledge that the above statement has ever been made public. The fact that it has not been released until now suggests that Cohen did not endorse it. In fact, it explicitly demonstrates it.
“Yes, in August or so of 2009 he was quite angry. You would be too. His family was threatened etc.”
Bullshit. He was angry before the boycott even started. Post the email addresses of any threatening emails you or he received on this page and we’ll send them to the authorities and circulate to all LFC fans that the people in question are not welcome. If you’re not prepared to do that, there’s not much else we can do.
Also, I genuinely believe you are incapable of reasonable discussion on this topic, for the simple reason that you cannot comprehend the difference between action of individuals vs actions of a group. You claim that organizers of the boycott were not interested in a resolution. Therefore, you assert, repeatedly for the last few years, several hundred times over and over and over, that by extension this applies to every single one of the millions of Liverpool fans all over the globe. You take the supposed actions of certain individuals, in this case those who sent threats (seriously, post them on here so we can expose those people please), find a common attribute they share (LFC fan) and use that as grounds to claim that anyone else who shares that label loses any moral grounding. There’s a word for that, and it isn’t very nice.
Worst of all, you repeatedly claim moral superiority and cite the trivial nature of the boycott as evidence that LFC fans are hateful. You call us “keyboard warriors”, people who want to be “stars”, and state ad hominem that it has nothing to do with “justice” (your quotation marks).
To that, I say
1)The individual who has written the most about this subject on the internet is you. For such a trivial issue, you spend an enormous proportion of your life discussing it.
2) I presume you’re using some kind of keyboard to write all this stuff. Who’s the warrior?
3) Don’t accuse people who stand up for what they believe in or being “wannabe stars” when you make a living giving your opinion on television. Do the twenty thousand people at the Hillsborough memorial service all want to be superstars?
4) The logical conclusion of your claims about triviality are the following. You think that a large audience of Americans believing that LFC fans were the cause of Hillsborough (check any message board, swathes of idiots believe what Cohen said, and still do), is less important than that a man gets to be a low rent pundit on ESPN. That is more important to you. If Cohen was a scientist making progress on a cancer cure, you would still be wrong. If he was an aid worker, saving lives in Somalia, he would still be wrong. As it is, he’s a shock-jock with a hate fetish. Or at least he was the last time I heard anything from his mouth.
Your claim that because a man cannot be a pundit on cable television that therefore his “life is ruined”, speaks for itself as hysterical nonsense. It would be hysterical nonsense even if Cohen had not behaved in the way he did over such a long period of time. But he did.
The claim that a man’s life is ruined because he doesn’t get to be a tv shock jock is borderline insane, notwithstanding Cohen’s behaviour (I found hiding behind the anti-semitic stuff even more offensive if you must know).
There are billions of people all over the world who’d love to be on tv, but instead just do regular jobs and get on with it. Of those billions of people, it’s a tough call for who should have the extremely privileged position of sharing their opinions with millions of viewers. Call me old fashioned, but I think that someone who makes jokes about tragedies, rants about the HJC group as being corrupt, and brags about chanting “murderers” live on air, probably shouldn’t make the cut. In fact they should probably be discounted in the first round.
“The actual tactics of the campaign worked against that. Efforts to do just that were rejected in favor of “punishing” Cohen.
You guys don’t build bridges, you don’t educate, you don’t reach out. All you do is attack and bully and in the context of the US that is what you appear to be. That’s because worse stuff goes on everyday.
James, I know more about this than you do. Critical attempts to educate US fans using the forum of WSD were rejected because Cohen must never work again was the demand. ”
This is very simple. Any reasonable person would conclude that WSD is not an objective forum suitable for discussing what happened at Hillsborough. When lots of people went to great lengths to expose the fact that Cohen was wrong, he didn’t recant what he said, he spun it into the phrase “shared responsibility” – in spite of the Taylor report. His orchestrating of a disgustingly one sided NPR piece on the matter reaked of a smear campaign. As such, any reasonable person would deem that he lacked any ability to intellectually honest about the subject, and therefore that since WSD was his show, neither it’s on air broadcast nor it’s website would be suitable fora to discuss Hillsborough.
I was involved in this from the start.
Cohen was the lead man in a two man televised talked show on a dedicated football channel every week. It was pretty much the first of its kind and by its very uniqueness was a platform for Cohen to put his views out there pretty much unchallenged.
When his first Hillsborough slurs hit the screen there was response to it. Via a couple of forums I took the initiate and called Cohen and on a couple of occasions spoke to him about what had happened. He felt the jist of what he said was accurate and the upshot of our conversations was that I’d appear on the show and represent the Liverpool fans side of things. For that I would also have been representing the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. However a couple of problems cropped up. Firstly he want me to appear on his radio show – not the tv show that he’d made the accusations on. I can only presume that was because he was trying to boost the ratings of the show that he owned – anything like this boosting the FSC ratings didn’t help him so much.
Secondly – he let the subject drop and the invite. Nothing was ever followed up on. He’d made an apology but a genuine discussion on the subject was never a priority for him. I did not follow up any further as I felt the conversation should have been on the medium that the allegations were made.
This all happened prior to 2009.
The only thing that put me to the front of the people upset with him then was that I’d spent a lot of time (with the unstinting support of others) dealing with BBC, BBC Worldwide and TLC in regards to the use of Hillsborough footage for TV in the USA.
What happened after that he pretty much brought on himself. The laughing at the “murderers” chant , more Hillsborough insult – all after he knew the feelings of Liverpool fans and had been advised to read up on the matter (by me – and others I’m sure).
When he continued to do this then it was clear that no talking directly to him was going to help. At that point the only thing that would stop him using the unique position that he had to spread lies and insults was to approach the people in charge of those media outlets and their sponsors.
Even then he had to go down fighting. There was never any attempt at direct discussion by him – he didn’t want it. Everything was a one way street to him. If it wasn’t on his terms then he wasn’t interested. That’s what lead to his demise.
Even now the so called apology was written by someone else. No trace of it on any website. No proof that he actually gave a damn. No evidence of the contribution to The HJC (much like the one he claimed he was going to make a few years earlier). Nothing.
Does he feel differently? No idea. If he’d come out and apologized then fine – take it from there.
Instead we have silence then gloating about joining ESPN. Given the history of the lies that this man has spread and his lack of integrity, honesty and apology then LFC fans have every right to assume that he will carry on with his hate filled agenda. They also have every right to contact ESPN to let that company know what sort of person they are getting.
And that’s what they have done.
The ball is in Mr. Cohen’s court now. Next move is up to him.
Is Mark Sawyer Steven Cohen’s publicist? Or just his apologist?
People in the sportsworld, in the United States, have, in the past, made ignorant, hurtful statements about sensitive issues, usually involving race (our national hot button) and then NEVER WORKED IN SPORTS MEDIA AGAIN.
Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder
It happens, and it’s good that it does. It is cleansing to the body politic.
Steven Cohen said things that disqualify him from gracing the airwaves of the general sporting public. ESPN will recognize that, eventually, if they haven’t already. I will do my part.
You can help Steven in his new career, Mark, whatever that is. It’s not going to be soccer/footy talk shows on USA national TV.
YNWA and JFT96
Let me address the background to all of this, and to this supposed apology.
Firstly, allow me to clarify that in researching the article above (and you can scoff at the word ‘article’ or my “ethics” as much as you want, at the end of the day, I’m not the one defending an antagonist with a grudge against a group who refused to accept the truth and stop grinding the axe, despite having every opportunity to do so), I searched the internet repeatedly for “Steven Cohen Hillsborough apology.” The apology you posted did not appear in the results of any search, nor is its existence well documented in the slightest. What can I do about that? How could I have known who you were or that it existed, let alone to contact you to obtain it?
Now. If I’m not mistaken, Cohen’s first comments on the subject of Hillsborough came on the 5th of December 2006 edition of World Soccer Daily. The following quotes were among the comments:
“Liverpool supporters are directly responsible for causing the two worst disasters in English football history, Heysel and Hillsborough … there is a disgusting side of Liverpool’s history that he would be happy to talk about.”
– An observation: If a man goes on record on radio as saying he is “happy” to talk about a subject, does he not have a duty to be correctly informed?
On the 12th of December Cohen issued an apology:
“Last week here on Fox Football Fone-in, in the heat of the moment, I made some very disparaging remarks about Liverpool Football Club and their supporters. I know that I’m a passionate Chelsea fan …. I also know that when I’m wound up over comments against Chelsea, like many fans, I resort to insults that can be very hurtful. As a broadcast professional I should know better and not let it get to this stage. I’ve apologised on my radio show World Soccer Daily and I’ve also apologized to the management here at Fox Soccer Channel. But most importantly I wish to apologize to all our viewers.”
– Three observations:
1.) Cohen makes no apology whatsoever for the inaccuracy and offence of claiming that Liverpool fans were “directly responsible” for the Hillsborough disaster.
2.) Crucially, to all intents and purposes Cohen admits that, quite pathetically, he had let his biases as a Chelsea fan get the better of him when talking about Liverpool and Hillsborough. That is pretty damming to my mind. What kind of self-respecting adult, let alone an adult broadcasting to a large and impressionable audience, is so consumed by hatred for a sports team which is a rival to one they support that they start levelling reckless, unfounded, inflammatory and incredibly hurtful allegations against its supporters in relation to a tragedy which cost 96 lives and scarred thousands more for as long as they live?
3.) If he acknowledges at this point that he should know better, why did he fail to act upon that over the subsequent two-and-a-half years?
– Are you really going to make any attempt to defend that Mark? All the best if you are.
Despite this ‘apology’, Cohen repeated his accusations that Liverpool fans caused the “trouble” at Hillsborough on April 16th 2007, just one day after the 18th anniversary of the disaster.
Note that in the period between this false claim and his next on air comments, he repeated his accusations in a typically inflammatory way in emails to listeners who objected to his unfounded claims.
October 27th 2008. We hear Cohen bragging and joking about singing “murderers” at Liverpool fans in relation to the Heysel disaster. Heysel will forever be a stain on the reputation of Liverpool supporters and is one of the darkest and most gut wrenching episodes in football history. However, in the interests of accuracy, no “murders” were committed at Heysel, and the most severe charges resulting in convictions were for involuntary manslaughter. 14 Liverpool fans were convicted, along with a number of people involved with the organisation and policing of the fixture in question. It’s estimated that there were at least 25,000 Liverpool fans present at Heysel. The 14 actually convicted for their part in the disaster represent less than 0.005% of the total number present, let alone the hundreds of thousands not present, and hundreds of thousands who were not born or have passed since who have put up with the mudslinging.
– And in conclusion, this is further evidence of Cohen’s deep rooted hatred of Liverpool and the club’s supporters, and hardly does anything for his credibility when commenting on anything relating to the club (as if that needed reiterating).
February 20th 2009,
“I want to say, and I want to get this correct, what is the difference between a cow and a tragedy? Liverpool fans can only milk the cow for so long”
“Not only is (Hillsborough) a tragedy, it’s a tragedy of their own doing! They’ve done brilliantly with this, with the Heysels and the Hillsboroughs, they done brilliantly, they have taken events that they were solely responsible for or largely responsible for and have somehow turned the world on its head and made themselves the victims. The victims!”
On the possibility on a Champions League fixture involving Liverpool being moved to avoid a clash with the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough:
“The world does not stop for Liverpool, and the events that they have created, they are not the victims, they are the perpetrators! … They are the perpetrators. You are not going to change my opinion on this … They are the most despicable people. And you know who’s behind this… the Hillsborough bleeding Justice group who couldn’t be more corrupt and more blatantly ridiculous when they get to something like this. Play the bloody game, UEFA, don’t fall for this, at the end of the day, they are just as guilty for what happened there as the police, the stadium and everything else, don’t let them off the hook, they don’t deserve it, and it’s not a question of not respecting the 96, its not respecting the 8,000 who showed up at Hillsborough without having tickets hell-bent on getting in.”
“They are not the victims, they are the perpetrators!”
“They are the most despicable people.”
“The Hillsborough bleeding Justice group who couldn’t be more corrupt and more blatantly ridiculous.”
“The 8000 who showed up at Hillsborough without having tickets hell-bent on getting in.”
– Strong words and serious allegations in the direction of the Hillsborough Justice group. None of which Cohen made any effort whatsoever to substantiate, then or subsequently.
April 13th 2009, two days before the 20th anniversary of the disaster:
“Reading a lot of stuff, commemorations in the English media, and I’m still reading the same old stuff about who’s responsible, and it’s the police, it’s the stadium, it’s whatever.”
“At the end of the day, people showing up without tickets hell bent in getting into somewhere where they shouldn’t be going because they don’t have tickets is the root cause of it in my opinion.”
“in my opinion.”
– Which was based on?…..
“I am saying, that I am yet to read anybody write in this weekend’s Sunday papers in England, where they are all doing big commemorations about the 96 and why we should never forget and how it’s changed the game, nobody discusses the 6-8,000 who showed up without tickets, and my argument has always been, and I’ll leave it at this: if those people don’t show up, this never happens.”
– Maybe they didn’t write about those 6-8,000 ticketless fans because they didn’t exist and were a figment of Cohen’s sick, malicious imagination. Maybe they didn’t write about ticketless fans full stop because, unlike Cohen, they read and accepted the most credible evidence and account of events.
“(Hillsborough) is a stadium that week-in, week-out, Sheffield Wednesday used, without incident.”
– Tell that to the 38 Spurs fans injured at the Leppings Lane End of the Hillsborough stadium in 1981 in very similar circumstances to those which cost 96 Liverpool fans their lives eight years later. Or in other words Steven, do some fucking research and stop peddling lies because it satiates your pathetic, juvenile hatred of Liverpool.
May 18th 2009: The second ‘apology’.
“First of all I would like to apologise for comments made on World Soccer Daily on Monday April 13th that referred back to an event from April 1989. My apology is directed at any and all people whose feelings have been hurt and people who have had awful memories and scars re-opened. The apology is heartfelt, genuine and sincere … Let me continue by saying that I came to this country 27 years ago. I believe in this country and what it stands for and most importantly I believe in the freedom of speech, opinion and expression and hold these values and freedoms as being amongst the most treasured of all freedoms … I also recognise that with my position as one of the hosts of a popular radio show I have a responsibility to my audience and perhaps the radio is not the ideal place to express every opinion and every belief I have if the net result is many people being hurt and upset.”
– Yes, perhaps not. Although realising that before mouthing off two and-a-half years earlier would have prevented a lot of hurt, anger, and allegedly, threats and intimidation from both sides. Or better yet, acquainting himself with the credible account of events. But I’ll come to that later.
Oh, and on the matter of freedom of speech and opinion, a recent quote from the Guardian’s Spanish football correspondent Sid Lowe which I liked:
“’But I’ve got a right to an opinion too’ too often used as a justification to (sometimes knowingly) spout complete bollocks.”
And finally. No apology for the joke about cows and disasters and outrageous allegations against the Hillsborough Justice Campaign group in February?
Now, returning to your post Mark:
“Cohen also came to believe that has this current attack proves, no matter what he said it would never matter”
– And whose fault is that? The fault of the people who were offended by persistent mistruths? Or the fault of the person who perpetuated them several times over a period of two-and-a-half years?
“Subsequently Kenny Hassan convinced him to start a new venture WFD. Cohen stayed on full time for over a year daily, but the episode had sapped his love of the game etc. away. He need time away to reflect and deal with personal issues some of them part of the fall out of the boycott. He voluntarily stepped away but in the meantime he had been on the air and while bitter about the boycott never discussed the issue. “
– I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that our hearts bleed. Poor Steven. Of course, he could have just had a look at the Taylor Report as he was no doubt urged to after first perpetuating the hurtful lies two-and-a-half years earlier (you’ll be hearing a lot more of this two and-a-half years earlier stuff in the final post) .
Now, onto the apology itself.
“Days before WSD was taken off the air Cohen had published the following.”
– This is significant, as this ‘apology’ predates Cohen’s interview with Newstalk in Ireland which followed the final the broadcast World Soccer Daily.
“In recent months there has been a cloud surrounding the show. That cloud was generated first by comments by me and later by the response largely by supporters of Liverpool FC.”
– How dare they be outraged about deeply hurtful lies like those told in the aftermath of the Hillsborough which have done so much enduring damage to the reputation of Liverpool fans?
“I asked some supporters of the show to reach out to the boycotters in an attempt to see what if anything they wanted in order to end the boycott … The door was slammed in our faces.”
– Maybe two and-a-half years of repeated mudslinging and steadfast commitment to ignorance at the expense of simply taking a look at the Taylor Report, and the failure to apologise swiftly, comprehensively and sincerely, and to recant the offensive comments upon learning of the intended boycott expended their patience.
“Most of all I worry about how some of the things said, have harmed innocents: the victim’s families at Hillsborough, the Jewish community, the staff at WSD, and sponsors who have become pawns in this dispute.”
– Perhaps the time to think of that was when making jokes about cows and tragedies, and plucking 6-8,000 ticketless fans from thin air. In other words, this came a bit late.
“and while I am partially to blame the boycotters have proceeded without regard to this and have not been willing to work in good faith to bring the dispute to an end.”
– Partially? That’s almost as inflammatory as the lies that caused the problem in the first place.
“So, I am going to take action that I hope will reach out to elements in the club and the victims who may have been hurt. But most of all those who have open hearts and minds.”
– “Open hearts and minds.” Priceless. How open was Cohen’s mind when he was surely inundated with appeals to read the Taylor Report at regular intervals over a period of two-and-half years?
“I am taking the actions I proposed to offer in order to end the boycott on my own without any assurance this will end the boycott, because it is the right thing to do”
– The “right thing to do” would have been to respond to the furore caused by his comments back on the 5th of December 2006, try to understand why, and educate himself. Then issue a retraction and an apology. No threats, no boycotts, no end of World Soccer Daily. He failed to do that.
“First, I must put my words about Hillsborough in context. I have frequently criticized negative elements among the fans of Liverpool FC. I wind up the members of many clubs around the world, and it is part of the show, but I want to be clear about something in particular.”
– Equating mocking a tragedy with “winding up” supporters of clubs other than Chelsea is downright offensive. But then Cohen’s a dab hand at that.
“At times, my jokes etc. about Liverpool FC have crossed a line and been inappropriate.”
– Yes. Much as it’s often said that Mussolini appreciated good timekeeping.
“For that I most of all apologize to the families of the victims Their grief is unimaginable to me. If my comments opened a wound for them in any way I am deeply sorry. I also feel it is my responsibility to clarify my stance on the issue.”
– In the minds of the victims’ relatives – and I’m only guessing here – I would imagine this apology came two-and-a-half years and several repetitions of the lies too late.
“I made some statements I honestly felt were consistent with the best available accounts of what happened that terrible day. I thought my statements were consistent with the Taylor report.”
– What complete and utter rubbish. How could Cohen possibly feel that his “statements” were “consistent with the best available accounts” after the outrage his comments caused? And as for the Taylor Report, well, he obviously never took the time to read it, before or after his initial comments of December the 5th 2006. What kind of a broadcaster is that? Does someone who is unwilling to acquaint themselves with an official report into a disaster they commented incorrectly and offensively upon have the right to expect to be able to continue earning a living as a broadcaster?
“On further examination I made a series of claims that were incorrect. I claimed on air there were 6 to 8 thousand ticketless fans and I also claimed those fans were the cause of the tragedy.”
– Innocent? Despite the fact that they appear nowhere else, and certainly not in the Taylor Report Cohen claimed he felt his comments were “consistent with” No light shed on where the figure claim came from? Utter spinelessness.
“I did not see my statement that there was “shared responsibility” for the incident as in contradiction with the basic claims of the Taylor Report. I was wrong.”
– Now this is really significant, and this is what underlines what utter rubbish this ‘apology’, which Cohen didn’t even draft, is, because in the subsequent interview with Newstalk, Cohen couldn’t shut up about “shared responsibility” and the problems caused by ticketless fans. He clearly didn’t feel he was wrong a few days later when speaking to Newstalk.
“There is no direct evidence of how many ticketless fans were there that fateful day, and even if there were ticketless fans, the Taylor report definitively confirms that the incident could have occurred regardless of their presence.”
– Once again Cohen could very easily have been established this and everything addressed in the subsequent backtracking of this ‘apology’ in December 2006. He failed to. Two-and-a-half years and all those repetitions and sick jokes later, he has to bring his radio show to an end. Nobody’s fault but his.
“I will post this apology on my website where it will remain.”
– It didn’t.
“I also urge supporters of the show to refrain writing the organizers of the boycott. These actions can perpetuate the antagonism and continue the cycle of hate.”
– Yet again, Cohen’s initial (and then repeated) failure to heed the calls to educate himself were the principal factor in “perpetuating antagonism” and “continuing the cycle of hate.”
Now, addressing some of your own commentary on the apology and the circumstances Mark:
“The guy suffered a lot for being really stupid and mean spirited in his comments.”
1. ) He deserved to suffer, certainly not threats, but most definitely harm to his career, for his repeated resistance to familiarise himself with the truth, which shows an absolutely staggering lack of professionalism.
2.) “Really stupid and mean spirited”. Mocking a player from a rival club who sustained an injury in a game would be stupid and mean spirited. Cracking jokes about the response to a tragedy and plucking figures of ticketless fans from thin air to cite as culprits on more than one occasion to a large audience is both inexcusable and reprehensible.
“However, there was a point where the boycott itself went well beyond “justice” and toward just ruining an individual.”
– Cohen ruined himself by taking over two and-a-half years and several reputations of deeply offensive and inflammatory mistruths, sick jokes and invective before even consenting to any *claim* (issued by yourself on his behalf) to accept the findings of the Taylor Report and issue a proper apology, by which time the damage had been done on both sides. He then went on air on Newstalk and dismissed the Taylor Report, insisted that he “stood by” his original view and talked of “shared responsibility” (contrary to the findings of the Taylor Report). So your apology isn’t even consistent with his subsequent comments. It’s a sham.
“It also turned into hatred for the guy that obviously continues.”
– If you seriously blame or judge us for that, you really need to get real. The man has no excuse. None whatsoever. Want persuading of that? Then let me remind of you the case of the Swedish television programme in May of this year, for what think is now the fourth time.
In May, a Swedish television programme mistakenly suggested that hooliganism was a cause of the Hillsborough disaster. People quickly spread the word on Twitter, and many people, probably hundreds at least, myself included, emailed the producers of the programme to (politely in all cases I would hope) explain their mistake, explain what really happened and the damage and offence their mistake could cause, and urge them to issue a retraction and an apology. On the following evening’s broadcast, they did exactly that, and, from what I saw, were widely commended by Liverpool fans who appreciated that it was an honest mistake which was quickly rectified.
In light of that, what excuse does Cohen have for the two-and-a-half years in which he failed to enlighten himself as people must have urged in their hundreds, if not thousands, and for the three unequivocal, impassioned repetitions, the crass jokes and the fabricated numbers?
Now take your moralising, your ever shifting arguments, and your outrageous contention that the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and boycott organisers are self-centred hypocrites for not branching out to fight every other injustice in the world, and above all, your pathetic apologies for a crass, hateful, antagonistic odious peddler of deeply offensive mistruths, and go away.
I don’t know if you could actually call than an apology. Most of it seems to be Cohen rationalising his opinions and claiming his right to free speech has been denied to him. Taken in context, I cannot regard his apology as either genuine or sincere.
So its clear that Cohen has a pattern and practice established of spreading the lies, being forced to apologize and then repeated the lies and/or retracting the apology.
Previous issues over Hillsborough have happened with Barnes and Noble, BBC Worldwide, The Learning Channel, Maxim and FHM magazine. All of them used Hillsborough footage, photos or have refer to it in a context that implied that it was the fans fault. Every single one of these drew the ire of Liverpool fans and each were contacted (many time it was the “American” fans that did it – obviously only to show off to the UK based Liverpool fans as Mark Sawyer has indicated!).
The big difference between these cases was that each of those organization corrected the errors and apologized. Nor did they repeat the errors after apologized. None of those organizations’ are under any pressure from Liverpool fans and nor are there boycotts against them.
The difference between the actions of those organizations and Cohen are quite clear – Cohens apologies were followed up with more lies. That’s why he was boycotted and that’s why when he persisted in lying the sponsors of his show were contacted regarding their affiliation with Cohen.
Was Cohen forced off the air? Yes. Deliberately so as he refused to take responsibility for the his own actions and lies that he persisted in spreading.
As for the claims From Mr. Sawyer that Mr. Cohen was a huge influence on the game in North America and it was a disaster that he is off the airwaves – well Mr. Sawyer is living in fantasy land. Fox Soccer channel shows more football than ever, so does ESPN and his radio show continues without him. Doesn’t seem to have missed Cohen. The only influence Cohen had was to lead to sponsors abandoning him and the club he supported issuing a statement disassociating itself from him. Not the kind of legacy that I’d want to bring to the table.
Since we last heard publically from Cohen has anything changed? Not to the knowledge of Liverpool fans. Maybe Cohen is finally contrite about what happened. Problem is that being contrite doesn’t absolve you from the actions you have undertaken. Cohen, from what we can see from the past, apologizes when he sees that the anger that he created is affecting him – and then when everything goes quiet just repeats the same lies.
There is nothing to suggest that the situation has changed and if Cohen wants to let people know that he has finally woken up and smelt the roses then it’s about time that he did so instead of letting his apologists infer that he has changed his mind. He could go about that by contacting one of the websites and take it from there.
No good battering on about the boycott organizers – that’s long gone – and to say he can’t get hold of them is nothing more than another excuse to avoid the subject.
Given Cohens repetitive past there is no reason right now to suspect he has changed. Too many platitudes have fallen from his lips for Liverpool fans to accept a third parties words that he has had a change of heart. Right now fans of the game have every reason to suspect that as soon as he gets a platform to air his views that he will revert to type and we’ll be back to square one. Until we have FACTS that he has changed then we should continue to prevent him obtaining the platform he craves to propagate his hate filled agenda.
Before he stuck his head out and bragged about his upcoming “Dream job”, I had totally forgotten about this guy. Now, reading everything that comes on this site, I read this piece and thought it appropriate.
Then the weirdest thing happened. A guy started commenting and defended Cohen, using what seemed like good arguments and seemed to have some insight to the situation. What followed can best be described as a joust, I feel.
Now, proud is maybe the wrong word here, but I really appreciate the way James “Seth” Owens dismantled the Proffesor’s arguments and the outrageous non-apology by Cohen. Just wanted to say Nice job and thank you for crystalizing why this simply isn’t something he can manuveur himself out of using PR-speak.
From: LaPlaca, Chris
Subject: Steven Cohen
Thank you for your inquiry.
Contrary to earlier reports, Steven Cohen will not be contributing to ESPN.
Mark “Q: Will you folk sit behind your keyboards and hound Cohen for the rest of his life?”
Cohen has not stopped he has more venom in him than ever. He is on twitter and using it as a platform to spread and add to his slurs upon the fans and the city in general. In fact it’s very rare he goes a day without mentioning LFC.
Yep, Emma’s right. His twitter address, incidentally, is @EveNewtonJobs. He was in spectacularly vile form in the build-up to last night’s Champions League final, and was still spouting his usual lies about Hillsborough. No credible broadcaster should be giving this man a platform.