IN an excitable piece yesterday, The Herald accused me of bullying STV.

Over a breathless half page, Tom Gordon and Daniel Sanderson reported that I had set out – with the help of Pete Wishart MP – to “intimidate” the company.

Our mission? To make sure that STV’s Stephen Daisley was silenced. We had, according to The Herald succeeded in our dastardly aim.

Who is Stephen Daisley you might be asking? I should state at the outset that I’ve never met him and have nothing against him.

I hear he’s a lovely fellow. But soon after I was elected last year, he started popping up on my Twitter feed with the by-line “STV digital politics and comment editor”.

Now I’m a journalist by profession. It’s long been accepted that there’s a big difference between opinionated columnists in the press, and “editors” who work for TV companies.

You know what a mouthy Mail, Record or National columnist thinks about every issue under the sun. They’re paid to tell you. But you don’t know what BBC and STV editors like Sarah Smith, Brian Taylor, or Bernard Ponsonby’s private political views are on anything. If you do, they’re not being professional.

Stephen Daisley tweeted his views on everything. They tended to be right of centre, and very anti-SNP. But was he a columnist or an editor? And if he was an editor, did he speak on behalf of STV? We were never told.

I love great writing. And I enjoy political debate. I’ve good friends who are columnists – Torcuil Crichton, Jane Moore, and David Aaronovitch to name but three. I disagree with each of them, amicably, about many things.

However, one of the problems about the print press in Scotland at the moment, it seems to me, is the blurring of the line between news and commentary. I want opinion from named columnists. I want unvarnished reportage on the news pages. And I certainly don’t think TV stations should join the print medium in confusing these roles.

I don’t want to know whether Laura Kuenssberg likes or dislikes Kezia Dugdale. Down that route lies Fox News.

So what were STV trying to do with Stephen Daisley? I suspect they were chasing a younger, Buzzfeed-influenced demographic. They wanted Stephen to be a provocative gadfly whose waspish wit would sting politicians from all parties. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to his pieces left many readers feeling that they were stuck in a bar trying to escape as the resident polemicist droned on about his very predictable views of the world.

Political journalist ‘wasn’t gagged’, says NUJ chief

Let’s get back to that Herald piece and its shrill claims. No Herald journalist phoned me to ask me for comment – even though I’m pretty easy to find. Had they done so, I’d have been happy to debunk said claims. I don’t think Stephen’s writing is especially good, but I have no leverage over the company, and fully recognise that who they employ is a matter for them.

I suspect STV pulled the plug on Stephen Daisley because of his endorsement of the Twitter troll Brian Spanner. For those of you lucky enough not to have come across the “Spanner” name, it’s the nom de plume for a writer (or more probably a small group of writers) who spew out a poisonous stream of misogynistic tweets of a grotesquely sexual nature, often targeting Scottish female politicians across the political spectrum. Astonishingly, and on more than one occasion, Daisley has tweeted approvingly about “Spanner”. Indeed last month, he went as far as to write that if his readers weren’t following Brian Spanner “you’re doing it wrong.” STV bosses, I suspect, decided enough was enough.

No-one likes seeing someone get the sack, and readers will be relieved to know that Stephen Daisley is still working for STV, and is still its digital editor. If that role is too restrictive, assuming any of Scotland’s newspapers like his style enough, he’ll be offered a columnist job I’m sure.

But I’m left wondering about The Herald. Its story was wafer thin. It attributed a ludicrous amount of influence to me. Its claims have been debunked by all the players cited, including STV itself. And a key ingredient of the story was omitted – the Spanner tweets – as they were too offensive to publish. However, it allowed Gordon to write about Daisley, and Alex Massie then to knock off a Spectator piece about Gordon’s Herald piece. And as I write this, I notice that Gordon has tweeted his compliments about Massie’s piece about his own piece about Daisley.

So here, it seems, is a key motive in contemporary Scottish journalism. In a world of plummeting print sales, a new newspaper tactic is emerging; shout something furious, if unsubstantiated, draw in your fellow commentators, and then sit back and allow the angry political tribes to engage online. Click click click bait. Advertising revenue anyone?