Review: Chronicle of ESPN Secrets a Page Turner

Ever thought of trafficking in the notoriety of an exclusive group of ESPN employees whose reputations precede them?

ESPN Montage

Me neither.

Though I’m pleased to report that all the dirty little, page-turning secrets about that uncommon club of sports commentators has been unbound for you and me to discover. Read more…

PTI’s Underlying Sign Of Online Video Revolution

You may have noticed I’ve been posting a lot more video pieces in the past six months or so. Friday’s PTI highlighted why.


Wednesday afternoon the Paris-based sports outlet L’EQUIPE posted a video account of Tony Parker characterizing the Spurs’ future pursuit of an NBA Title as futile. (With the club’s roster as presently constituted.) The San Antonio guard was seen making the remarks on-camera in french but translated subtitles were not added.

Early Thursday morning international basketball website FIBA.com provided an english translation of some of Parker’s remarks. That post was then picked up by eagle-eyed sports bloggers Jorge Sierra of Hoopshype.com, Tom Ziller @ SBNation, Matt Moore @ CBSSports.com and Kurt Hellin @ NBCSports.com.

Struck by Parker’s remarkably candid comments, I sought out the original report on the L’Equipe.fr site. I then obtained the video of Parker making his comments in french from the post, added translated subtitles to the clip, and re-posted the video so it could be disseminated across the United States and Canada. (With full credit and web link to L’Equipe.)

I posted the translated video around midday Thursday. Soon after, venerable SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS sports reporter Tim Griffin posted a blog entry that linked my Parker post and the subtitled video that originated from L’Equipe.

San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT-TV then re-posted my translated L’Equipe video on its Facebook page, along with this question to its Facebook friends: “We’re interested in your thoughts on Tony Parker saying the Spurs are no longer championship contenders as presently constructed.

After that social networking entry - based solely on the translated video - received hundreds of responses, KSAT-TV sports anchor Greg Simmons led his evening San Antonio sportscast with the story, which included the airing of my translated version of the L’Equipe video of Parker.

During his report, anchor Simmons pitched to the subtitled clip with this:

“The reaction is strong right back here in San Antonio.

“Appearing before reporters in Paris, T.P. 9 (Parker) said he felt the window of opportunity for another NBA Championship for the Spurs, with the big three and current support group, has closed. You can listen and read for yourself.”

KSAT then aired the subtitled L’Equipe video of Parker.

Coming out of the clip, Simmons then pitched to fan reaction of Parker’s statements, which obviously had already made the rounds within the city:

“Those statements may have been made in France but they are being heard loud and clear right here in San Antonio by Spurs fans.”

Simmons then featured on-camera comments from Spurs fans and responses from the aforementioned KSAT Facebook entry.

If you know anything about television news you understand that without video of Parker’s comments, KSAT would not have played up the story as it did, which included fanning out around town for fan reaction and reaching out to its thousands of followers on Facebook. That’s not to say that Parker’s comments wouldn’t have been mentioned on the same S.A. sportscast, but it would not have been presented in such dramatic fashion.

Without chasing down the french connection to the story - and providing a subsequent translation of the Parker video - what’s the odds it ends up in the living rooms of tens of thousands of San Antonians?

Or is featured the next day on sports TV’s most-watched, and influential daily show: ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption with Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.

Friday afternoon I was alerted by SbB readers - via my well-trafficked Twitter and Facebook accounts - that I’d gotten a mention from Wilbon on PTI.

The subject of the plug was the translated L’Equipe video of Parker.

[]
Wilbon from the show:

“Tony Parker spending time back home in France and perhaps that’s why he felt comfortable enough to say what he said about the Spurs in a recent interview unearthed by Sports by Brooks.

“Quote, ‘I don’t think this current team will play for the title in the future. We are aging, we must be realistic. It was sort of our last chance this season.’ Close quote.”

After affirming Parker’s dim view of San Antonio’s future, Kornheiser said that the Spurs guard wouldn’t have said such negative things about his NBA team had he not been speaking in his native tongue - while  across the pond:

“What interests me though is I suspect that not only did he say this in France, he said it in French. I suspect that he did not think, because he’s in a foreign country, that it would be unearthed back in the United States.

“I don’t think he’d have told a San Antonio reporter this exact thing.”

That exchange followed SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS reporter Mike Monroe noting that Parker’s indelicate assessment had reached Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford.

“Who knows what the motivation is to say something like that,” Buford said. “I’m not going to get caught up in comments. All I can say is that we’re going to continue to build our team and try to be as good as we can be in the future.”

Buford probably would’ve been asked about Parker’s comments had the translated video of the guard’s remarks not gone viral. But with anglo-enabled video, millions more were made aware of the story.

For too long we’ve heard the people who ultimately control big media web operations, the same suits with no clue how to mine online’s tangible, financial value, tell us about how valuable video will be to the web.

When will that be?

If you’re talking online viewership of major league and major college sports, we’re very close, with ESPN3 leading the way.

If you’re talking online viewership of anything besides the above, welcome to 1983.

If you don’t believe me, checkout the ‘view’ statistics of videos posted to the the official Youtube accounts of all the big sports media players.

Gone organic, most original TV bits are reduced to double-to-triple-digits when consigned to online.

Those paltry numbers tell you that, like the circulation of the monopoly-enabled (and later, addled) newspapers the past century, viewership of original online sports programming is solely based on the venue. If ESPN provides a video top-front placement on ESPN.com, or directs a prime-time SportsCenter audience to the web, you will see huge online views.

But there’s no middle ground.

The reason I detailed the process by which the Tony Parker video eventually ended up on ESPN’s highest-profile daily show was to illustrate what will drive people to watch online-only videos. With or without plugs from shows like PTI. (Which I did appreciate by the way.)

For an online sports video to grab the attention of more than blood relatives, it must have something a web user can’t get anywhere else that is relevant to the viewer. (See proprietary.) Why would any right-thinking sports fan seek out video of a sports reporter and/or columnist and/or talk show host doing anything other than breaking a story or dishing privileged information?

What made the Parker video so valuable was that it contained content that - though not altogether proprietary - was a revelation to english-speaking NBA fans and national and local (S.A.) electronic media.

If I’m ever going to appear on an SbB-produced video, I’m only going to do so if I can provide viewers new and relevant information that that they consider valuable.

That’s precisely what KSAT-TV in San Antonio did in providing the Parker video to its audience. Not only was it new information, but it was highly valuable to the audience and a critical component of that particular type of journalistic enterprise.

To this point, web-centric video that is proprietary has never been made a priority by big media. The reliance remains, to this day, on distribution to fuel usage.

The Parker video, along with dozens of other original video pieces I’ve posted to Youtube.com, Dailymotion.com and Facebook that have garnered millions of views, prove that with strategic ingredients, the value of web video can be measured by more than institutional distribution.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.

Thy Heathen Wilbon: WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?

Today ESPN announced Jon Miller and Joe Morgan were being let go from their duties as Sunday Night Baseball announcers on the network after 20 years of service.

Mike Wilbon: Joe Morgan is a god.

No one was hit harder by the news than ESPN PTI co-host Michael Wilbon. Wilbon in the WASHINGTON POST on Morgan: Let me just say that Joe Morgan is God.

To each his ecunemical own.

Mike Wilbon

Myself? I prefer to worship at the altar of the above late-’90s Wilbon publicity glossy.
I don’t have much to say about the passing of Miller & Morgan, as in 20 years I probably didn’t watch enough of their games - check that - as in 20 years I probably didn’t watch enough of their games with the sound on to account for a single game’s worth of work.

So instead, I defer to this poignant tribute to Miller from the SAN DIEGO READER: Read more…

What Will Tony K. Say Of This ‘Sausage Casing’?

Love Michelle Beadle of the highly-rated ESPN SportsNation television show.

Now that we know she has a healthy appetite, love her even more. Could you ever imagine the razor-thin Erin Andrews actually eating a hot dog?

Erin Andrews on Dancing With The Stars

Oh, you have? My bad.

Lance Armstrong On Kornheiser: ‘Punkass Chump’

UPDATE: Audio of Kornheiser’s rant has now been posted on Youtube:


Lance Armstrong unleashed a stunning stream of vitriol to his 2,457,806 Twitter.com followers today directed at ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption host Tony Kornheiser in reference to comments the ESPN personality recently made on his daily ESPN radio show in D.C.:

Lance Armstrong rips Tony Kornheiser on Twitter

So what did Kornheiser say to make Armstrong so upset? The cyclist referenced the ESPN host’s March 11, 2009, show on ESPN 980 in DC. A show in which Kornheiser said this about cyclists: Read more…

ESPN’s Celebrity Journos: Proficiency, Interrupted

If you asked NBA observers about Michael Jordan’s legacy as a league executive, most would first chuckle and then say it’s a good thing he’s now an owner.

Michael Wilbon, Rick Reilly, Tony Kornheiser

Apparently not Jordan friend Michael Wilbon though. On ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption yesterday, he responded to co-Host Dan Le Batard calling Jordan a “pretty terrible executive” thusly:

I know Michael wanted to be an owner. Not a GM. A GM is not what he’s signing up for.”

When one broaches Jordan’s front office aptitude the past decade, the conversation cannot avoid his astonishingly incompetent performance. In disregarding that, Wilbon did a disservice to his credibility as an NBA analyst. But the PTI host is far from the first media member to allow a personal relationship with a subject color his on-air conduct.

Though the irony of ESPN’s highest profile, old school journalists is that the more famous they become, the less reliable their resulting work. Work that also largely pales next to their pre-ESPN resume. Read more…

Update On What Linda Cohn Didn’t Say About me

UPDATE: I’ve been told that Cohn actually said “time” and the interview was incorrectly transcribed. Much ado about nothing. My apologies to Linda, who has always been a cool lady. Should’ve known.

Jimmy Shapiro of SportsRadioInterviews.com tipped me off to an interview by ESPN’s Linda Cohn on 790 The Zone in Atlanta this morning that contained a comment I’m trying to decipher.

Linda Cohn ESPN SportsCenter

Cohn was asked if Tony Kornheiser’s comment about Hannah Storm would’ve been cause for an ESPN reprimand if blogs weren’t around to report it. Cohn:

“Well in Tony’s case he said it on his own radio program, so you can’t blame the internet or blogs or anything like that for what Tony did, which was wrong. I’m glad you brought it up - about that slime - there was an incident that happened to me that was kind of brushed under the rug for something that was said by someone that I worked with. And if there was internet maybe 7 or 8 years ago, it would have maybe been a bigger deal.

So I totally get what you are saying. The other thing is the wardrobe thing which I can speak to. I wrote about it in my book Cohn Head. This was about 6 years ago or something like that. I wore something on the air, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I wore black boots on the air, they were black. I wore a skirt that wasn’t flat, but apparently it was a little too short, and I wore a turtle neck top.

And it would have been a fine outfit anywhere else, but my boss called me into his office and said it’s a little too distracting; lose the boots. And that was handled with me, whether I liked it or not, it was handled in the right way by a boss calling me into his office.

The comment is just past the halfway mark of the interview. I’m guessing she was referring to me as “slime”, as I can’t imagine she’d call Tony that - especially in the wake of what just happened with Hannah.

But in the context of the conversation, it isn’t entirely clear.

Though if she did call me slime, it would be rather ironic.

Read more…

Why Is Kornheiser Still Doing ESPN Radio Show?

In my post this morning about Michael Wilbon’s reaction to Tony Kornheiser’s PTI suspension, I noted an interesting question posed Wilbon by former ESPNer Dan Patrick on his radio show. Patrick wondered why Kornheiser was suspended from the ESPN PTI show for two weeks but still allowed to do his ESPN-branded radio show in DC. The same show that is still being streamed live by ESPN corporate and where Kornheiser made the comments about Hannah Storm that got him suspended.

ESPN.com still hosting Tony Kornheiser's radio show despite suspension

(Kornheiser still doing “ESPN 980″ show on ESPN.com)

From what I learned from sources this morning, ESPN has no contractual or legal right to remove Kornheiser from his ESPN Radio show in DC. That particular radio station is owned by NFL Redskins Owner Dan Snyder, not ESPN.

I’ve also been told that ESPN never requested to ESPN 980 that Kornheiser be removed from the show during his PTI suspension, though ESPN corporate has told Kornheiser directly that he is no longer allowed to criticize any ESPN employee for any reason on any outlet, including his DC radio show.

There’s been plenty of chatter that ESPN’s severe suspension of Kornheiser wasn’t merely about his comments regarding Storm’s wardrobe. That there were other reasons involved that ESPN didn’t make public. Read more…

Wilbon Reax To Tony K. Suspension, “Bristol Culture”

Michael Wilbon guested this morning on the Dan Patrick Radio Show and gave his first on-the-record remarks about the two week-suspension of his PTI co-host Tony Kornheiser. (Kornheiser was suspended yesterday by ESPN for two weeks for comments he made about Hannah Storm’s clothes.)

Hannah Storm Boots Photo

On the show, Wilbon was asked why Kornheiser was suspended from PTI but not the ESPN radio show in D.C. where he made the comments that got him punished. (I have an email in to ESPN asking the same question.)

Read more…

ESPN Removes Kornheiser From PTI For 2 Weeks

*UPDATE*: ESPN announced that Tony Kornheiser has been suspended from PTI for two weeks. The statement from ESPN Executive Vice President of Content John Skipper:

“Tony Kornheiser’s comments about Hannah Storm were entirely inappropriate. Hurtful and personal comments such as these are not acceptable and have significant consequences. Tony has been suspended from PTI for two weeks. Hannah is a respected colleague who has been an integral part of the success of our morning SportsCenter.”

Kornheiser’s suspension is in effect for this week and next week.

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ESPN this morning announced that Tony Kornheiser has been suspended from PTI for comments he made last week about Hannah Storm.

Hannah Storm Tony Kornheiser

Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com reports that Kornheiser talked about the suspension on his ESPN Radio show in D.C. today (via Dan Levy):

“As a result of this, I have been sent to sidelines from PTI for a while and when I’m allowed back on PTI, I will happily go back because I love the PTI show and love all the people on the PTI show.

“I’ve said about 1,000 times, while doing radio in my life, the following sentence: if you put a live microphone in front of somebody, eventually, that person will say something wrong. This was one of the times I said something wrong. Beyond that, you can call me and ask me for comment. I’m not going to do it. It seems to me that, without any question, I broke the rules and this is the punishment that’s come.”

Last Friday Kornheiser apologized to Storm for remarks he made about the morning SportsCenter anchor’s clothes. At the time, ESPN Executive VP Norby Williamson said that he was “reviewing” the matter.

Read more…