HBO On Daulerio, Denton – Getting Paid, Ruining Lives

Posted in Blogged Down, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 12:50 pm by

Were sports more fun before “the world went viral”? That was the question posed by “Real Sports”‘ host Bryant Gumbel at the conclusion of last night’s broadcast —and who brings to the pure joy of fandom more than the effervescent, not grumpy-in-the-slightest Gumbel? — the middle portion of which concerned the rise of Deadspin in the post-WIll Leitch era. Andrea Kremer grilled editor A.J. Daulerio and Gawker Media publisher NIck Denton, with the dynamic duo’s recent (commercial) success stories about Rex Ryan and Brett Favre receiving prominent notice.

Alas, not every cock pic enthusiast has an 8-figure salary (and the protection of the NFL) to fall back on. Serial creep Sean Salisbury — shown looking extremely haggard — claimed Deadspin had essentially destroyed his career with a “3 1/2 year” campaign of bullying. Such was Deadspin’s heartless pursuit of the former ESPN analyst, one of his kids was reduced to begging Daulerio to lay off.

Daulerio and Denton were portrayed as a smug, sleazy couple, nearly oblivious to the “collateral damage” Kremer claimed they were inflicting on REAL HUMANS W/ FAMILIES & PUPPIES. “I couldn’t help but notice,” mused a disapproving Gumbel, “that all of the Deadspin guys were young. Do you think they’ll change as they have families?” Presumably, Deadspin’s envelope-pushing tactics would be curtailed if, say, A.J. had to return to his 3 bedroom home in Greenwich, CT and explain to his children over the dinner table that he is the monstrous person who made Sean Salisbury cry on television. You know, the same Sean Salisbury whose routine abuse of John Clayton was all in good, wholesome fun.

That Nick Denton’s lust for traffic is considered unseemly is a bit rich coming from “Real Sports” ; TMZ.com is wholly owned by the same company that pays Gumbel and Kremer. Efforts to launch a TMZ Sports site have yet to take over the internet and at the very least, should have been mentioned during Kremer’s piece. Denton didn’t invent this style of reportage, he’s merely surrounded himself with people who are very good at it and/or have a better understanding of the readership’s tastes & prejudices.

It was also telling that Deadspin’s squash-jobs on sports celebs a-list and otherwise weren’t thought to have any legit news value (sole exception being former Deadspin-baiter Buzz Bissenger, who defended the Favre story before admitting he didn’t approve of off the record correspondence being used). For anyone with half a brain, the Favre and Salisbury stories weren’t simply about naming and shaming the horny, they also had something or other to do with workplace harassment and the sort of indignities routinely foisted upon women in the sports industry. Salisbury’s case in particular came on the heels of other zipper-related horror stores emanating from ESPN — and other have followed. Full credit then, to Steve Phillips for not going on HBO, holding up a family snapshot and sobbing, “see what you’ve cost me, A.J.? WAS IT WORTH IT?”

That said, if you’re waiting for “Real Sports” to do a story on the modern day Peyton Place otherwise known as Bristol, CT, don’t hold your breath. For all their recent notoriety, Daulerio and Denton are much safer targets. Air time that could’ve been used to ask Roger Goodell how he in good conscience could allow Favre to escape meaningful discipline was instead devoted to making sports journalists far less decorated than Kremer and Gumbel look like weasels.

And then, they segued into a cuddly profile of a convicted rapist.

3 responses to “HBO On Daulerio, Denton – Getting Paid, Ruining Lives”

  1. Rog says:

    Eh, I think the profile is valid. For that matter, maybe the very subject of sports should be eschewed in favor of more important journalistic subjects; that’s part me being devil’s advocate but, really, when you look at the quality of American media and of the topics that they *choose* to cover, it’s a valid complaint.

    Stodgy old media has it in for bloggers but they wouldn’t do a profile on Deadspin and their ilk if they had no readership and since their stories have generated more than just water cooler talk, I don’t think that they should be exempt from scrutiny, however granular and ultimately unimportant in a world where real journalist are being beaten and sexually assaulted while reporting a much more important story. I just think that no matter which subject you choose to cover, there will always be someone unsatisfied because they didn’t cover it they way they want to see it covered or to the extent that they feel it should or shouldn’t be covered. I have a lot of political blowhard friends who wear out my eardrums with this type of whining.

    As far as the TMZ reference, I would think it’d be worst if they ‘didn’t go there’ because they have a corporate tie with a site/tv show which does almost the exact same thing. Divisions within a corporation don’t choose which companies are on the M&A short list of the parent company. Having worked for the same corporation in the past, I know that there is almost no synergy between most of these brands.

  2. GC says:

    I’m not suggesting there’s actually synergy between TMZ and HBO, more that it seems a tad hypocritical to hold Denton and Daulerio’s feet to the fire for the coarsening of the culture when another Time Warner property is at least as guilty. TMZ is a profitable venture — Andrea Kremer’s investigative reporting, far less so. One might argue that her salary is paid by sleaze just as much as A.J.’s.

    I’m also not suggesting Deadspin should be immune from scrutiny — I think I’ve established a few times that I’m more than willing to take them to task for matters trivial and otherwise. HBO’s particular angle on this was Deadspin is the new frontier of smearing sports celebs and making up your own rules as you go along. Yes, that’s a real story, but it’s not so simple that Favre and Salisbury were picked on just because they were famous. Whether by accident or design, Deadspin has shown a very bright light on levels of institutionalized sexism. When it comes to stories the traditional media are “afraid to touch”, that might be one of the more obvious, especially in light of how many Real Sports staffers have friends & colleagues at ESPN…or might hope to work in Bristol themselves someday.

  3. Rog says:

    The last point I agree with completely. Perhaps they could’ve found a way to incorporate that much into this very story and expanded the focus. I can say that when you work for a conglomerate, it’s hard to not be hypocritical in your coverage because you can’t throw very many stones. If they have enough principle to only cover subjects that won’t implicate another unit within the corporation then most network news shows would be about 28 seconds long (maybe that’d be for the best, I dunno).

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