ESPN issued a statement to me today about Tony Kornheiser’s recent comments about Hannah Storm’s wardrobe on ESPN Radio in D.C.. From Norby Williamson, ESPN Executive Vice President, Production:
“Hannah is a consummate professional and one of ESPN’s most respected voices. The comments were totally inappropriate, which Tony recognized. He apologized to Hannah and addressed it on his radio show. We are in the process of reviewing the entire situation. “
On his ESPN Radio show in D.C. today, Kornheiser noted that he called Storm yesterday and apologized for his comments.
Kornheiser on what he said to Storm:
“I apologize unequivocally. … I was wrong. This is sort of what I do, and I’m sorry for it. … Not the first time and won’t be the last time but I apology for it this time.“
After relating what he said to Storm, Kornheiser said she was “cordial” in her response to his apology. He also noted that Storm was sending a pair of boots that she wore on SportsCenter to the P.T.I. show to auction of for charity. (Great idea, actually.)
While admirable to apologize to Storm directly first, it was also a very deft move by Kornheiser to lead off his show today with his story of his apology to her. (Storm did tell Kornheiser it was okay to do so.) Clearly it was a move by Kornheiser to induce sympathy from his audience.
Later in the segment Kornheiser continued to make hollow excuses for what he said, which was inappropriate. He needed to apologize to Storm and move on. I know he was just launching into his “vulnerable, insecure Tony,” schtick, but that wasn’t the proper context for it.
I talked to several on and off-air ESPN employees yesterday about Kornheiser. Two said that had Kornheiser said what he said about Storm off-air in the ESPN offices, he would’ve been legitimately punished. But he essentially got a pass because he could couch his comments as his on-air act.
Williamson noted in his statement to me that ESPN is continuing to “review” the situation. Multiple sources told me yesterday that Kornheiser’s contract is up for renewal, so we’ll see if this incident has an impact on those negotiations.
Thanks to his role on P.T.I., somehow I doubt it.