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 ...'"
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.