Sports Journalist Blames Fat, Cheeto-Eating Bloggers For The Decline Of His Trade

from the get-off-my-lawn dept

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was recently caught on video in an apparent state of inebriation using some pretty colorful language (via Barking Carnival) to describe former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells and NFL draft prospect Tim Tebow. The video, as you might imagine, became pretty popular, prompting Jones to clarify that he was having a “social moment”, and when he says somebody “isn’t worth a s**t”, it’s a “familiar, caring term of endearment”. Lots of old media news outlets ran with the story as well, prompting quite a reaction from longtime Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen, who pilloried his own station for running the story:

That story we had earlier tonight about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, if that’s what it is (and our news director thinks it is), is yet another example of the decline of journalism as we once knew it. Our business now, too many times, is a fat kid in a T-shirt in his mother’s basement, eating Cheetos and writing his blogs — and we make it news. Jerry Jones in a bar, being Jerry Jones, is not news to me. And the fact that some creep slides up to Jones, records the conversation without Jones knowing, then tries to sell that recording — and that becomes news — is an embarrassment to us all.”

Clearly Hansen is working on his entry for this year’s Buzz Bissinger Award For Achievement In Grouchy Sports Journalism. He characterizes the decision to run the story by his station’s news director as: “Public figures are fair game, and our game is reduced to following the lead of others.” Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock decries this as yet another horrible example of “gotcha journalism”, saying that it’s no wonder athletes don’t want to talk to the media when they run stories like this.

But isn’t that the real crux of the issue? Many sports journalists appear to be afraid to do anything that might jeopardize their access to athletes and their teams, so they’ve supported the PR efforts to carefully craft the outside appearances of sports figures, and are largely hesitant to do anything to upset these appearances. Hansen calls this sort of story evidence of the decline of journalism, but it’s really the result of sports journalism. Stories like this become popular and notable among the public because they’re so out of character for anybody within professional sports. Other pieces have called Jones’ behavior in the video “just Jerry being Jerry.” And you know what? That’s fine. The content of the video isn’t even really that objectionable — and perhaps has some interesting insight into the fact that Jones might have hired Parcell solely for PR value, something which seems to have gone unacknowledged among the mainstream media. But it’s only these reporters, who have been let inside the magic curtain, that know that. The public at large sees the staged media persona of somebody like Jones, and then this video differs significantly from it, making it interesting.

Whitlock says sportswriters “owe Jerry Jones an apology and all sports fans an honest explanation of why athletes/celebrities have every right to avoid us.” That makes it sound as if the goal of sports journalism is to be friends with athletes, to buy into, and to help build up, the carefully crafted, positive images of athletes — not to cover the world of sports. That’s what makes the downfall of somebody like Tiger Woods so sensational and so interesting to the public. But it seems reasonable to ask that given the intense media interest that follows someone like him around, why didn’t the story of his escapades break sooner? It wasn’t until the situation became irretrievably public — like the Jones video — that the mainstream media ran with it. These stories break in blogs because their writers aren’t beholden to the same model, and often don’t care about being so close to their subjects. Whitlock alleges that sports figures like Jones “can’t be human.” That’s not the case at all; rather the mainstream media often doesn’t make any effort to show them as human, making these rare moments where they’re seen without their protective PR cover so dramatic, and so compelling.

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Comments on “Sports Journalist Blames Fat, Cheeto-Eating Bloggers For The Decline Of His Trade”

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Tom Landry (profile) says:

Re: Re:

My own issue is the elitism displayed by so-called seasoned veterans. They show their insecurity by denigrating anyone who chooses to comment on issues that was once the sole domain of professional, salaried writers.

Yes, many bloggers ARE “idiots” but folks should be looking at the new medium as a Chinese Buffet…..take what you like and leave the rest. If you’re a so-called “professional”, take the high road and show us all how it’s done. Don’t run off at the mouth like a butthurt little girl.

dorp says:

Re: Re:

what passes for news now is nothing more than people being people.

Yep, because for decades news was only about the fake public persona of these people. You are just buying into the myth that these so called journalists were “reporting” on real people and real events. What they were doing, as mentioned above, is just providing another PR angle just so that they could keep their access to the VIP lounge.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

dorp would you like your worst moments spread all over? would you like to have people follow you everywhere and widely broadcast your every comment? almost everyone has told an off colored joke, said a coworker was incompetent, or said something else while a little drunk that most of us want to forget. it isnt about keeping access to a vip lounge its about giving people the space to be people without reporting every sound and smell they make. imagine it in your own life and picture what it must be like.

dorp says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

dorp would you like your worst moments spread all over?

It’s cute how you ignore the question at hand here. So lets go through it again. It’s okay to expose every single detail of a person’s life… if all of it is good, but once it is something negative, everyone needs to get together and hide it? You like your hypocrisy uncooked, don’t you? Pick a lane bud, you either want your privacy or get used to the fact that not only your “good” side gets exposed.

Niall (profile) says:

Compare this to the recent destruction in the British media of cheating footballers John Terry and Ashley Cole. No attempt was made to show them in any artificially favourable way when they were so blatantl in the wrong. Especially when John Terry had a ‘Streisand’ moment, tried to use a so-called ‘super-injunction’ to hide the news (one of those where even mention of the injunction is forbidden), only to get it struck down by the courts as a matter of public interest – he was captain of the England football team and so was considered to have a ‘public duty’ of setting an example.

Ashley Cole on the other hand was just a known spoilt brat who made the cardinal error of upsetting his more-popular wife, Cheryl Cole.

It’s good to see that neither of these overpaid, arrogant men could avoid getting their reputations trailed through the mud by the press.

fkaJames (profile) says:

I usually agree ...

but this time you’re way off base. Off the record is off the record, and Jerry Jones was clearly off the record in this conversation. He has a right to, and an expectation of, privacy in private conversations, and this crossed unequivocally over the line. I’m amazed that any legitimate news organization would not recognize this. And, quite frankly, I’m very surprised that the author of this post doesn’t see how this can so quickly lead to an Orwellian society in which neighbors turn on neighbors and people have no privacy at all. I do honestly hope his private conversations never become public.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: I usually agree ...

expectation of privacy? at a bar? while drunk? with cameras around?

uh, no… no, i dont think so there sparky.

as to your amazement of legit news sources not recognizing this as some kind of weird twisted violation of privacy (which it clearly is not) don henley has a few wise words for you.

personally im kind of surprised by the following:
1. he didnt just say “yeah, i said it, i got drunk and i said something stupid…like YOU havnt… sorry bout that”
and been done with it.

2. you are trying to say that anyone has the right to go out, get drunk, get on camera say a bunch of stupid stuff but the moment anyone says anything about it we are moving towards an orwellian society.
I have a better idea, dont say stupid stuff in public when drunk. especially if you are a public figure. and if you cant keep yourself from saying stupid stuff when drunk, dont get drunk in public.
those two things would have kept the entire thing from happening in the first place.

bah… what am i THINKING?!?!?!?! personal responsibility?

Anonymous Coward says:

The risk to the media is that all these “powerful” people, be it politicians or sports figures, rich people or whatever, are just people. They can be bigots, they can be stupid, they can do things just like everyone else. Why is that a risk? If the general public realizes that these folks are just like them, then why would they bother to consume more and more news about them? A poor kid dies in Texas is no big deal, a rich kid dies in Colorado, its big news. Does anyone care if some high school coach says something that might not be PC? Not much out of his area, but a pro coach says the same thing and its headline news.

It all feeds the beast. I still have never understood why anyone would care what Bono things about political issues, but they do. Is he any more qualified than anyone else? Is his opinion better?

Chucklebutte (profile) says:

Who cares?

Sports still matter? It’s 3rd grade again? Some fat douchebag team owner from texas calls’em as he see’s’em and some how that is news? When someone gets paid more money to catch a ball than one does doing brain surgey screams problem, These roid raging, testosterone pumping, very non hetero athletes need to stop being placed on a pedestal, they are just human beings, with very little brains and big muscles, that doesnt make the better than us, it actually moves athletes to the other end of the spectrum, the bad end. One of the biggest problems we face as a society is the emphasis on sports and not education. The more we dumb ourselves down, the more likely we are to be taken advantage of.

matt says:

Dale is right but you missed the point

He isn’t poking a stick at bloggers despite his tone and choice of language.

It’s an opinion piece basically calling the story gutter journalism a-la the Tiger Woods scandal.

He’s saying it isn’t news (if you know anything about Jerry you’d know it isn’t, and he thinks any press is good press and basks in it). And he’s right. The problem isn’t that the video ended up on a blog but that his producer felt obligated to post a story because others were already running it. That is what Dale took issue with and wrote an editorial about. Kudos to WFAA for printing it.

It also has nothing to do with protecting images of public figures to get access. “Jerry Jones went doo-doo this morning” isn’t news, and Thank You to Dale Hansen for publicly rebuking the producer.

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