When the Media Really Gets It Wrong
When the media really gets it wrong, it’s usually when reporting on our own selves.
The latest example is the Tony Kornheiser fiasco at ESPN. He criticized Hannah storms choice of outfits. The network suspended him from its PTI show.
Two pauses here:
•1) What, the show about old guys arguing over sports is still on?
•2) Hannah doesn’t even use her real last name (Storen). Name me another job where an alias is not only accepted, it’s not even mentioned. Hannah has trouble with the truth, not her Barbie wardrobe.
OK. Back to regular programming
When I was much younger, I used to watch the local ABC affiliate in Chicago for my news. Me and the majority of area viewers tuned in every night.
There was a commentator, a former newscast leader, who appeared nightly and blathered on about whatever came to mind and it was accepted because he had been on the air a long time when there were only three networks that mattered, pre-Internet and even pre-cable TV.
Not exactly Walter Cronkite, but good enough for Chicagoland. Spiffy bow tie every night.
He died, as we all will. I expected, even at age 29, they would mention it on the air and everyone would have a moment of silence and then onto the news.
The whole half-hour was a mind-numbing tribute. As if nothing else mattered.
They got it wrong. My immediate thought then was other people had died that day and they had family and friends too and no one death should be more important than the other. They instead eulogized their pal because they could. “We don’t care, we don’t have to, we’re the deciders.”
Wrong then, wrong now.
With Kornheiser, the opposite tactic was used.
ESPN didn’t tell anyone why he was off the air (I am a big fan of this silly show and expected more honesty).
ESPN does not have to tell us, of course.
But I challenge them to say any other daily host on another network would have gotten the same courtesy.
I think not.
Forget the relative merits of the suspension. It weakens their search for the truth in every other story they present.
They don’t care, they don’t have to, they’re ESPN.
Like newspapers have found out through arrogance, as network television is finding out through arrogance, so too will ESPN find out. There are alternatives.
All we have is our best honest effort.
Forfeit that and you forfeit your right to be believed.