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HBO's Costas segment on the state of the sports "media" last night

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  • HBO's Costas segment on the state of the sports "media" last night

    I've read numerous reactions to Buzz Bissinger's ranting at Deadspin's Will Leitch last night, so if anyone caught it (I did not, only the second-hand stuff), feel free to chime in...or not...

    A nice summary from The Big Lead...

    Back in March when we reported that Bob Costas was putting together this “State of the Sports Media” panel, our initial reaction in the comments section contained these phrases: “Lion’s den” and “recipe for disaster.” And this was before we had ever seen author Buzz Bissinger speak in a public setting. As blogs gain traction among sports fans, and newspapers continue to bleed circulation, the mainstream media has felt like it needed to take a lamb (in this case, a blogger) out on national television and attempt a slaughter. We can imagine Bob Costas getting on a conference call with his mainstream media cohorts, Mitch Albom and Mike Lupica, clasping his hands like Gargamel and frothing: “Yeah, let’s get Deadspin’s Will Leitch out there. If we cut off the head, blogs will die! Bwwwaaaahhhhhh!”

    How else should we react when Costas’ first line to Leitch last night was - paraphrasing here, but we’re sure there will be video, eventually - “I find you much more palatable in person,” which is a nasty backhanded compliment. Bissinger, a popular author who wrote the book Friday Night Lights, decided to be more blunt, cutting Leitch off a few sentences in to blurt out, “I’m sorry, but you’re full of shit.” Ambush? You bet.

    Reaction today will be all about perception. If you’re in the radio industry - which was crushed harder than the blogosphere - you will be outraged. We look forward to reading about blogger reaction - we’re certain there will be anger. Anyone who has yet to bail from the sinking ship also known as a newspaper industry (though USA Today and the Wall Street Journal get free passes) must have been severely depressed to hear Selena Roberts’ thoughts on access and Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber’s musings on the media in general.

    Some of last night’s Townhall Meeting made for riveting television - Strahan hurling verbal knives at radio guy Chris Russo throughout his segment; Wilbon and Whitlock discussing race and the media; Fire Joe Morgan’s great line: You don’t have to go to school to say I think the Indians should have pulled Carmona in the 8th; Dan Patrick lobbying heavily for a TV job - but the blog segment left something to be desired because Braylon Edwards was over-dressed and Bissinger’s shouting drowned out all of Leitch’s salient points.

    Here’s our quick breakdown of the highlights from each segment:

    RADIO

    First question, for our Chicago readers: Who is Mike North? The man looked downright foolish in some taped footage that was shown. You know how everyone wants to ask what credentials bloggers bring to the table? Well what the fuck has Mike North ever done? His wikipedia says that he was a hot dog vendor and in the military. Hmmm. No mention of college, studying journalism, or anything of the sort. Interesting. Hey mainstream media: If you’re going to call bloggers uninformed, basement-dwelling louts (in our underwear, of course; ACTUALLY, Mitch Albom had the only basement/underwear comment of the night, and it happened at 10:14 pm) who haven’t “studied” anything resembling journalism, will you make those same arguments against some of these radio hacks, who are also devoid of “training?” Or do you give this North clown a pass because he’s been on the radio for 15 years, and bloggers have only been pecking away at their keyboards for a few years?

    Same goes for Chris Russo. We enjoy his work on WFAN in New York, but it must be said - he’s no more informed than bloggers. He watches sports. He talks about them. The man is on Letterman because of his antic-filled entertainment value, which largely relies upon him attempting to be funny by waving his hands around like a school crossing guard. Which is why, when Michael Strahan ripped into him last night - really, the video will do monster numbers - it was priceless. As Strahan tells it, he went on their radio show as a fill-in for the head coach about eight years ago. Russo and Mike Francesa were nice to him, but the second Strahan hung up, they trashed him for an hour. He called it cowardice and vowed never to do the show again. Later, he had a great line: “I don’t need you to do my job, but you need me to do yours.” Later, this gem: “The last time you had a uniform on was when your mom took you trick or treating when you were five.”

    Mitch Albom: “There needs to be a minimum standard to report. Joe Fan shouldn’t be on the level as Joe Reporter, who is trained for the job.” Mitch - we went to college, had two newspaper internships, was on staff for and freelanced for plenty of newspapers, and freelanced for ESPN.com and the Magazine. Does this pass your “test?” And if our brother starts a blog tomorrow, but he studied marketing in college, will you say he can’t blog? Just wanted to run that by you.

    Costas got huffy that some sports radio hosts were playing “who would you do” and the females in question were all TV sports reporters/studio hosts. He quickly made note that HBO also televises G-string Divas and Cathouse.

    INTERNET

    Bissinger, for reasons we still cannot fathom, invoked the name WC Heinz. Huh? His argument is that people would rather read WC Heinz than some blogger. “Who has a better ability to evoke a game or a moment” - his voice raising with each word, like your dad shouting at you - “WC Heinz or a blogger?” Then, he decided to not take the words of Leitch, but rather AJ Daulerio’s and commenters at Deadspin, and scream them on TV to make Deadspin look bad. (We should add that we have never met Daulerio, but if pressed, we’d have to say he is the funniest blogger on the web, narrowly edging out Fire Joe Morgan. And yes, it’s probably because of the dirty banter.) Bissinger kept mentioning the phrase “Balls Deep” (later, Joe Buck did, too). Other Bissinger phrases: “[Blogging] really pisses the shit out of me. It is the dumbing down of our society.” Newsflash, Buzz: Skip Bayless debating anyone about anything on ESPN or reading another FIRE HIM! TRADE HIM! column from Jay Mariotti is doing much worse damage to society. We are certain of this. Bissinger, it should be noted, didn’t make note of one thing Leitch actually wrote.

    Bissinger: You posted the photos of Matt Leinart “to humiliate him!” He did say there were some ‘good blogs’ but said they were “few and far between” and that the “quality of writing was despicable. I think the future in the hands of guys like you is going to dumb us down from a degree we won’t recover from.”

    Braylon Edwards, dapper as hell, made a few comments that aren’t worth noting here.

    TV

    Probably the weakest segment, only because a) Joe Buck kept trying to be funny, b) Dan Patrick kept trying to be funny and c) Mike Tirico, perhaps the most milquetoast voice at ESPN, has never taken a strong stand on anything, and he wasn’t going to do so last night.
    Dan Patrick: “I’m not on TV anymore Bob, why am I on this panel? …”
    Mike Tirico on ESPN’s annoying debate format: “I think there’s enthusiasm and energy to those shows. Sometimes, when we put these two together, there’s excess. Sometimes, I change the channel.”
    Joe Buck’s only good line: “How do the guys get points on these shows? Woody Paige or whatever his name is … how can any group of supposed grown-ups have strong opinions on 15-16 topics a day?” Zing! Later, he told Dan Patrick that Dan “had a great voice.”

    Highlight: Al Michaels, who spoke in a taped segment, presumably from his house, looked as if the questions were giving him agita. He kept rubbing his temple and putting his hand on his head. Perhaps he was ill. On ESPN’s “debate” shows: “Gasbags on parade.”

    ATHLETES/MEDIA

    John McEnroe spoke first, and he’s so awful at public speaking, that it nearly crushed the entire segment. Selena Roberts was solid: “Money builds a higher wall around the athletes.” She told a tale of a recent attempt to get an interview with LeBron James, and having to go through many layers before ultimately emailing questions to someone who emailed them to LeBron, who recorded his voice on an audio tape and emailed it to her. “Access to athletes has been lost [for many reasons] … TV has gotten huge, and there are more of us than ever before. What’s lost is that human connection. Nobody’s having dinner with Ali. I don’t know anything about Tiger Woods. He’s got news to break and he’s going to his website. He’s going to make me totally unnecessary.”

    Tiki Barber was good, too, and spoke about how athletes distrust the media. He made it seem like the media had ulterior motives: “[Some reporters] think they can make a name for themselves by having inside access to an athlete. Writers have become ambitious outside of their job.” He made it seem like members of the media latch (our word) onto some athletes to become ‘their guy’ (our words). It seemed like a thinly-veiled shot at a New York writer. Or perhaps writers.

    Don’t kill us for this: Curt Schilling made a few good points about the media in a taped segment.

    RACE

    It stinks this segment was cut short due to time, because it elicited some of the strongest opinions. Cris Carter was terrific. So were Wilbon and Whitlock (his calling out of Kellen Winslow’s dad was great). Perhaps the best story came from Wilbon in a taped segment: He told of the time he was in the media room after a college basketball game when George Michael (Sports Machine, not the singer) walked in and shouted, ‘where are all the black people?’

    Costas was at his best in this segment, because he feels race is an issue that needs to be discussed, but he laments the fact that he, as a white guy, cannot start them. Wilbon dropped the n-bomb twice. Whitlock’s last line was something to the effect of, (paraphrasing here) “I got run off of ESPN for talking about the mistreatment of Barry Bonds.”

    "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
    Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
    -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

  • #2
    I watched part of the show and plan on seeing the rest when it replays.

    Whoever that New York radio guy was is a huge douche bag. The discussion about talk radio hit the nail square on the head. It is terrible. I hear people call in and I have to question why they even watch sports. If the games upset you so much then maybe you need a new hobby.

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's the intro with the guy from FireJoeMorgan/The Office as part of it...


      "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
      Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
      -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

      Comment


      • #4
        I can't believe blogs vs. newspaper journalism is even a debate. who fuckin cares? I read both sometimes.
        Sometimes elections have positive consequences!

        Comment


        • #5
          The local paper down here has done an excellent job of moving forward.

          Just about every one one of the sports writers has their own radio show and blog.

          If one of the local guys does something stupid or some other big sports stoires breaks Richard Justice will post his take within minutes. Plus every sports story they write that finds its way in the paper is also posted online.

          I used to be a big sports section guy. Now I only read when in the shitter at work to pass the time.

          Comment


          • #6
            ShortHop will be along shortly to give Mike North's life story.

            Comment


            • #7
              What's so wrong with the American Dream, I ask?
              Of course you do.

              Comment


              • #8
                i could only watch a few moments cause it seemed like it was just a bunch of bitching.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Bissinger: You posted the photos of Matt Leinart “to humiliate him!”
                  This is true.

                  I love Deadspin in general, but the posting of "hey, look at the drunk athlete at a party" photos is weird and creepy and meanspirited.
                  Official sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals

                  "This is a heavyweight bout indeed."--John Rooney, Oct. 27, 2011

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by backstop View Post
                    ShortHop will be along shortly to give Mike North's life story.
                    I'm realizing a sad reality this week - that there are two topics and two topics only that I'm considered to have insight on by the loungers:

                    1) Cougarpumamountainlions

                    2) Mike North

                    Chancellor Illiniwek would be so proud.
                    Of course you do.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kah View Post
                      This is true.

                      I love Deadspin in general, but the posting of "hey, look at the drunk athlete at a party" photos is weird and creepy and meanspirited.
                      No shit??-Former Iowa State Basketball Coach

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Very interesting show last night. I started watching during the blogging debate. Bissinger looked like a lunatic with an agenda. I somewhat agreed with a few of his points, but the way he was presenting them and attacking all of bloggers, was a little over the top for a Bob Costas hosted show.
                        I got nothin....
                        I made a website, STLsportspulse.com. Yippeee!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kah View Post
                          This is true.

                          I love Deadspin in general, but the posting of "hey, look at the drunk athlete at a party" photos is weird and creepy and meanspirited.
                          Didn't they offer a link from the original site that posted them, TheDirty.com?

                          "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
                          Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
                          -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 007 View Post
                            Didn't they offer a link from the original site that posted them, TheDirty.com?
                            Couldn't tell you.

                            But when we see some NFL dude at a party looking well-oiled, and Deadspin posts it, and there is no angle to the story--no "hey, he's only 19", or "hey, that girl he's shotgunning beers with is only 16", or "hey, look at this picture of Josh Hancock 45 minutes before he plowed his car into a truck"--they are posting those pictures to mock and ridicule athletes. I am not sure why, other than Will Leitch and co. envy athletes for doing stuff that they can't.

                            It is what it is. Otherwise, Bissinger embarassed himself, it seems. But that charge is absolutely true.
                            Official sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals

                            "This is a heavyweight bout indeed."--John Rooney, Oct. 27, 2011

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              i think the leinart pics were made into a big deal cause people were wondering when that guy was going to grow up.

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