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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

ESPN Says "Zero Tolerance" for Cowherd Antics...Next Time

The new ESPN ombudsman responded yesterday to radio host Schrutebag (previously known as Colin Cowherd) using the airwaves to incite his listeners to launch a crude Denial of Service attack on the sports blog The Big Lead last week.

In only her second column on the job, Le Anne Schreiber said the ombudsman's mailbag was "jammed with dozens of messages of outraged complaint" and that "some of the politer terms my correspondents used to describe Cowherd's behavior were immature, irresponsible, arrogant, malicious, destructive and dumb. I agree."

Hats off to Schreiber for responding so quickly and unambiguously. We agree with her agreement.

However, she goes on to say the initial official ESPN response wasn't quite as strong. How not strong? Well...

"Our airwaves should not be used for this purpose. We apologize."
Yep, that was it. A whopping 11 words. And Schreiber didn't think it was enough either....

"It is the kind of bland public statement that does little to assuage the anger and distrust of ESPN's audience over an episode like this. I could not tell from that statement how seriously ESPN regarded the offense, so I contacted Traug Keller, senior vice president, ESPN Radio, to get a clearer idea of ESPN's reaction.

Keller responded immediately to my request for an on-the-record statement. "We talked to Colin Cowherd, and we talked to all our radio talent, making it clear that you cannot do this," Keller said Friday. "Our airwaves are a trust, and not to be used to hurt anyone's business. Such attacks are off limits. Zero tolerance. I can't say it any stronger."

Keller said that he had not formulated a policy about such attacks on Internet sites until now because he had never imagined the possibility of them.

I appreciated Keller's quick, forthright response.

Now that ESPN Radio has such a policy, I presume such attacks will be treated as an offense that warrants suspension.

In other words, watch out...because next time we're going to be really serious about this. Which as King Kaufman states in his excellent Salon.com column on the incident means basically, "Cowherd escapes punishment because he managed to find a way to viciously attack someone that his boss hadn't thought of" and adding later, "Imagine if you killed someone by drowning him in a giant vat of cinnamon pudding and you got off, the district attorney saying, 'There's no law against drowning someone in a giant vat of cinnamon pudding because it never occurred to anybody that someone would make cinnamon pudding. But make no mistake! The next guy who kills someone with a giant vat of cinnamon pudding ...'"

So true.

And how does The Big Lead feel about everything that's happened? Click here to see what they said about last week's events and click here to read their thoughts on Schrutebag's seemingly less-than-sincere on-air apology at the end of his show yesterday.

Finally, I say props to our MZone readers and others across the blogosphere whose comments to Ms. Schreiber are what "jammed" her mailbag with the above-mentioned "messages of outraged complaint." You deserve credit for bringing this matter to her attention and keeping folks like Schrutebag from using their position to silence those they don't agree with.

Even if it takes another incident for the consequences of such actions to finally kick in.


Zach Landres-Schnur said...

is it three strikes for this fuckup?! he shoulda been canned after what he did to you guys. now this and he still has a job?! man, slap on the wrist is a light slap these days.

Jason said...

hats off to Colin for actually having an opinion and not sucking off any of the conglomerates that rule the media industry. I may not agree but he has the right to say what he wants.

Dezzi13 said...

I'm confused... how is telling listeners to go to a website to shut it down an opinion??

Crabapple Buck said...

What passes for "talent" at the wwl is what needs addressed also. I haven't watched/listened to the wwl except for live events for years. It started out so promising and now it just sucks. I'm glad Tom Mees isn't around to have seen what happened to his beloved network.

Out of Conference said...

Jason - I respectfully ask you how does CC have the right to say what he wants on a show that he does not own and does not pay for? Sure, there is a thing such as free speech, but the 1st Amend. doesn't keep me my job if I say over my company PA system something that the boss doesn't like.

Devil said...

Cowherd has the right to "say what he wants," and I encourage ESPN to let him exercise it in any public park in Bristol. ESPN is under no obligation to provide a public forum for no-talent ass-clowns . . . though I'd admit that it's difficult to discern that point after you look at their line-up.

Rob said...

You know, Dwight Schrute is an upstanding citizen. He just maced Pam's boyfriend when he tried to attack Jim: good guy.

It's just not fair to Schrute to associate him with a clown like Cowherd.

surrounded in columbus said...

there's a huge difference between voicing your own opinion and coordinating an attempt to stop someone else's. sure, he's entitled to his opinion, and espn pays him to express it. i don't like him. i don't listen to him. good for both of us.

however, he doesn't have a right to try to stop someone else's opinion. what he did here was attempt to close someone else's forum solely for the purpose of silencing a critic. that's wrong.

cowherd doesn't have to read blogs he doesn't like, just like i don't listen to him. free speech isn't just about talking yourself. it's allowing others to talk, too. you don't have to listen, but you have to let them have their say.