But enough about Phil Mushnick, how do you think Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock feels? Sen. John Kerry invited some of journalism’s leading lights to Washington to testify about the sorry state of their profession last week, and Big Sexy declares “I wish that I had the necessary profile to be called before Congress to share my opinion.” You might want to write this date down somewhere Ladies and Gentleman, as that might be the closest we get to seeing Whitlock express anything approaching humility.
Some of my critics are troubled by my focus on ESPN. They wrongly believe I’m hostile toward ESPN because I split with/was fired by the network. I chose to liberate my mouth from ESPN because the network’s business relationships with all of the major sports leagues stand in the way of free, creative speech. I’m occasionally hostile toward ESPN because it’s an arrogant, reckless, destructive monopoly, and I still enjoy being a journalist from time to time. American journalists, last I checked, should be occasionally offended by arrogant, reckless, destructive monopolies. They’re generally seen as threats to democracy and our way of life.
Despite its obvious power, the mainstream media virtually ignores ESPN. We leave the coverage of the most powerful institution in sports to basement bloggers and a handful of harmless, press-release-rewriting embedded sports writers.
Our neglect reminds me of the newspaper arrogance that allowed “kids” to cover high school football and basketball recruiting. We ignored the clear public demand for recruiting news and let a group of sports fans create Rivals.com, which sold for $100 million.
Now we have Deadspin, The Big Lead and an army of citizen journalists building followings and eroding our credibility by attempting to police the people who conceitedly refuse to police themselves.
For the most part, bloggers can’t do it. They just don’t know enough. Their instincts are horrible. They’d never think to wonder whether a writer would leak a coaches name as a job candidate as a favor for information down the line so the coach could leverage his current school into a fat raise. And if a blogger did think of it, he/she would be unlikely to have the wherewithal to do the necessary reporting.
Having appeared on Oprah and “Mike & Mike”, I see no reason why Whitlock couldn’t school Congress on this issue (after all, I’ve already declared him to be “such a big deal that when he masturbates, it’s black on black crime”). But during the same week Jason chose to compare the NY TImes-trained Selena Roberts to the Rev. Al Sharpton it’s rather curious he’d cite blogs as lacking the “wherewithal” to do any investigative reporting. Is repeatedly decrying ESPN’s pervasive influence really a matter of compiling facts, or isn’t really a matter of Whitlock’s opinion — one that not-so-ironically is echoed throughout the sports blogosphere. Is there really a world of difference between Big Sexy and a self-obsessed blogger? Other than most examples of the latter having more readers, that is.