Berman: Critics ‘Angry’, Don’t Speak For ‘People’

Ben Grossman of the television industry publication BROADCASTING & CABLE has a brief Q&A with ESPN’s Chris Berman in which Berman addresses criticism of his on-air performance.

Chris Berman is very angry, circa 2000

(Are they?)

My commentary on the interview is in bold and italics after each Q&A exchange.

Broadcasting & Cable: “Do you read your press clippings?”

Berman: “I’m aware of them. I don’t really understand them, because I don’t think they’re from the people.”

Brooks: Press clippings aren’t from the ‘people.’ That’s why they’re called ‘press.’

Note how Berman gets in a passive aggressive shot at the media by not acknowledging that he would actually take the time to “read” his press clippings. Only that he’s been made “aware” of them. As if he’s above the ink-stained wretches who write about him.

Broadcasting & Cable: “Do they piss you off?”

Berman: “I’d say ‘disappointed.’ But I mean, what do they say, that I don’t try hard? No. So then, it’s OK. I know what the people think, so it’s OK. I’m broadcasting for the people and I’m broadcasting for my place. I couldn’t tell you if jealousy sneaks in or not. It doesn’t matter. If you’ve been around a long time, they’re going to shoot at high targets. I probably did it, too, when I was younger. But not quite the same way.”

Brooks: For the record, it was Berman who suggested in the interview that his critics may be jealous of him.

Does Jim Gray “try hard”? Chip Caray? Yes and yes.

If “trying hard” was the prerequisite for on-air talent in the multi-billion dollar sports broadcasting business, your Uncle Louie from Yonkers would be hosting the U.S. Open.

As for ‘the people’, apparently that doesn’t apply to the thousands of Twitter users who were savaging Berman during his hosting of ESPN’s coverage of the home run derby last week. (I was watching the comments pour in via Tweetdeck - that’s what SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s Richard Deitsch was referencing.)

Truth is, guys like Berman and Rick Reilly have no interest in what “the people” really think because they want to avoid the truth at all cost.

Though if Berman were to ever get on Twitter, he would see just how reviled by “the people” he really is, so he wouldn’t have been able to use his tired “I only care about the people” defense during this interview.

So mark one for Boomer.

Broadcasting & Cable: “You’re probably one of the most polarizing people in sports.

Berman: “I’m not sure why. Because if you ask the players and the people in the game, I’m not.”

Brooks: Wait, what about ‘the people’? You forgot them!

Broadcasting & Cable: “So, is it just the media’s opinion?”

Berman: “I don’t know. I do the best I can; I enjoy what I do.”

Brooks: Checkmate.

Again, if the broadcasting business was only about doing “the best I can” and getting to “enjoy what I do”, your Uncle Louie in Yonkers would … you knew the rest.

Broadcasting & Cable: “A lot of people think that your personality and golf don’t go together.”

Berman:  “Except that the USGA, ESPN and the golfers love it. So, who am I broadcasting for? The viewers, the people in golf, at my place and the USGA. I ask every year what can I do to change it, and they say, ‘Just do it.’ The USGA put me on golf; it was their idea to make it more regular, to make it not just golf. But I’m not trying to be funny. I follow the golf tour pretty closely. I’ve done this since 1986, so now I’m no good at it? So, I don’t know anything about golf?

“For example, they said, ‘How could he say Dustin ‘The Wind’ Johnson?’ [Citing a Berman- esque nickname for a pro golfer.] I was on for 10 hours, not 10 seconds. I said it once. It’s OK, relax a little, would you please? It’s sports. Just relax. It is 10 hours.”

Brooks: Berman’s narcissism, albeit unintentionally, finally shines through. The problem with the nicknames schtick is ‘the people’ don’t watch for 10 hours! ‘The people’ don’t care how long Berman has been on the air that day, they only care about the 30 minutes that they’re watching.

But I thought it was all about ‘the people’?

As for USGA officials relenting and allowing Berman to make a mockery of the broadcast, what else are they going to say? ‘No, you can’t use the only tired device you’ve been flogging for thirty years to fill airtime?’ ESPN is the place where the USGA is going to get the most exposure for its event in the early rounds, and Berman is ESPN’s highest profile personality. You think they’re going to tell Berman what not to say?

It’s not up to the USGA to reign in Berman, it’s up to ESPN. And that’ll never happen.

Broadcasting & Cable: “Do you see a more rabid media today?

Berman: “I guess. People are angrier now than we were. It’s OK.

They are?