Of his ill-advised attempt to force a shutdown of The Big Lead in 2007, a tearful Colin Cowherd tells TBL’s Jason MacIntyre, ” It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done to another person. It was a horrible thing to do … it ate me up.” And with that Oprah moment out of the way, we’re treated to a mostly fluffy portrait of the
flaming douchebag highly motivated broadcaster. Though Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch offers qualified praise for McIntyre’s effort (“the conceit of staring down the person who took down your fledgling web site is an interesting dynamic to explore,”), he’s not entirely satisfied with the results.
First, I’m not a fan of single source profiles, which this basically was, and the fact that an ESPN PR rep shadowed the writer during the entire interview experience would have been a non-starter for me. (I’ll use this moment to note that of all the sports television networks I deal with, ESPN is the only one that consistency insists on its PR staff sitting in on interviews (phone or otherwise) with talent and executives. You can judge for yourself whether that’s sound handling, paranoia, or both. Sometimes I’ve played ball with them and other times I’ve contacted subjects independent of the Ministry of Magic. I will say that ESPN PR staffers have never interfered during an interview I’ve conducted, and that their conduct when they have sat in has been professional. But a third party, and a PR person at that, shadowing an interviewer shapes the dynamic of a profile, and makes you question things as the reader.)
I don’t know how the editorial process went down here but I wish McIntyre, if he had not, ran a draft by an experienced editor or a trusted profile writer who would have prompted a discussion about what’s not in here, from an attempt to speak with Cowherd’s ex-wife to the reaction of those he’s insulted on the radio to a firm discussion with his bosses.
Though Cowherd was allowed to call his assault on The Big Lead, “the worst thing I’ve ever done”, was it really any worse than this act of plagiarism? Or how does it compare to his contrition fading fast enough to have bragged to Deitsch in 2008, that sports bloggers were begging him to be knocked offline? Where does Cowherd’s commentary following the shooting death of Sean Taylor fit into the pretty picture of a workaholic radio host who claims a TV network told him Will Arnett was “too m” to play him in a sitcom?