Whether Cavs owner / Quicken loans CEO Dan Gilbert is a comic sans enthusiast with a trigger temper or a predator lender whose vaunted endeavors in Detroit and Cleveland aren’t entirely altruistic, it cannot be an easy situation for Cleveland reporters who wish to speak freely about Gilbert’s history. Cleveland Scene’s Vince Grzegorek and Ryan Felton profiled Gilbert on Wednesday and found a businessman fond of cultish sloganeering (“there is no they”, “we eat our own dog food”), abiet one with a serious case of rabbit ears :
Back in early September, Plain Dealer sports columnist Bill Livingston was a guest on Tony Kornheiser’s radio show in Washington D.C. on ESPN 980. In the midst of a wide-ranging conversation on Cleveland sports — Johnny Manziel! LeBron’s coming back! — the topic of Dan Gilbert came up and Livingston didn’t hold back his feelings while touching on Gilbert’s infamous letter and more.
“I could understand playing to his base,” Livingston said. “But this is not the first time that he had released statements like this that weren’t pretty… They were sent out late at night, and draw some connotations from that if you will.”
He continued, leaving the vagaries behind.
“He can have a bit of a hair trigger,” he said. “He can become influenced by all the things that a late night would engender. I think probably alcohol probably played a part of it, just to come out with it. It’s just suppositional on my part, but he’s sent out messages like this before, to Plain Dealer people on the casino issue, that were over the top.”
Livingston was speaking the truth, as three media sources have told Scene over the years, describing similar interactions with Gilbert and worse. The billionaire can unleash torrents of spite when reporters question his decisions, and this time he went straight to Livingston’s bosses at the Plain Dealer with his complaints. They, in turn, would tell Livingston to write a letter of apology to Gilbert, a sanctioned snipping of one of the few who dare call Gilbert to the carpet.