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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When facts get in the way of "annoyance journalism"

Like pretty much all Michigan fans, bloggers and anyone else who enjoys clever, insightful writing rather than repetitive, shrill diatribes, I can't stand Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp. And not because he criticizes Michigan (hell, we did that quite a bit ourselves here on the MZone after the start to the 2007 season). Rather, it's the spirit in which Sharp does it.

Sharp's attacks (one can't really call them columns) appear to be done in an intellectually dishonest manner, written not to critique, provide insight or even to entertain, but solely to annoy and agitate a fan base. He's the journalistic equivalent of that older sibling who, after being told by his father to "stop touching (his) brother" spends the rest of family trip in the backseat waving his fingers mere millimeters from his kid brother's nose whispering with sadistic glee, "I'm not touching you."

Now, I'm sure Sharp would deny that, probably claiming Michigan fans are simply too thin-skinned to hear "the truth," as he might call what he does. But as someone who runs a Michigan-centric college football blog, I can attest U-M fans not only can take it, they can dish it out with the best of them - if it comes from a genuine place.

In the twelve days surrounding Michigan's opening two defeats this season, Sharp wrote four "columns" blasting various aspects of the Michigan program. Interesting considering that during our "Drew Sharp Watch" last season, when we were trying to see how long it would take for him to write a positive piece on the Wolverines as they made a most unexpected run to 11-0 and a #2 ranking, he had only written 6 stories about Michigan by October 19th with five of them negative, one neutral (a seventh positive piece was about Bo personally, not the 2006 team).

So, how many Michigan stories - good, bad or otherwise - has Sharp written about Michigan since they won their last two games?

Not one. Because, God forbid, he might have actually write something positive. Thus, he has conveniently turned his college football attention to the Spartans (which will probably last until Michigan stumbles again).

But even with his focus up the road in East Lansing, Sharp can't resist his "I'm not touching you" brand of "annoyance journalism." For while he reserves an especially antagonistic relationship with Michigan fans, it's not limited to the maize and blue faithful.

Spartan Bob of cfb site Smash Mouth Football has a story up about Sharp's postgame article in the Free Press on the Michigan State-Notre Dame game in which, with a "South Bend" dateline, Sharp describes a fumbled snap by the MSU QB - which was picked up and thrown for a TD pass - this way:

"Quarterback Brian Hoyer fumbled the snap on a fourth down and short opportunity. It is moments like those in which the demons that have long haunted this program return, manifesting themselves in the most emotionally tortuous way imaginable."

Just one problem: Spartan coach Mark Dantanio revealed in the postgame press conference that the "fumble" was a designed play.

Oops. That's gotta suck when facts get in the way of a slam.

Now, maybe Sharp missed that part of press conference. Or maybe he submitted the piece before attending it, the Spartans preordained to get poked no matter what (he had to have gone to the press conference if he was in South Bend as a "journalist" at the game, didn't he?). Whatever the case, Sharp and the Free Press "updated" the original column and changed it to line up with what happened on the field. But thanks to "Google Ghosts" and the good folks at Smash Mouth Football, this factual faux pas is there for all to see.

And did Sharp mention his mistake in the new story? Ha! What do you think.

P.S. Didn't Mitch Albom catch hell for a factual error in a "feature" column he wrote about the MSU basketball team a few years back? Wonder if Sharp will face any consequences over this.


j said...

Who is Drew Sharp? Hey Drew, if you're reading this, then you have read more of me than I have read of you.

Matt said...

Pat Forde is the among the worst. He is another one in a line of smug, arrogant ESPN wannabe journalists. I know it's part of his schtick, but he's obnoxious. And he's not that smart either. He's another ass-kisser who just goes along with the same old, obvious trend in sports thinking i.e. USC is the best team, SEC is the best conference, etc. Not to take anything away from those two, but those are trite arguments.

When we lost to App State, sure, he had to write about what an upset it was, but he couldn't help but rip on Michigan. That's just bush. There are times when you don't rip on a team. He said he was pissed because many Michigan fans emailed him expressing their displeasure with him keeping Henne off his list of top 5 QBs. What a little bitch.

Also, was it Steve Greenberg who wrote that nasty little top 5 list of reasons why "Michigan will hit the canvas again (and soon)." I know he wrote the main article, but was that little blurb by him too?

Jessica said...

Sharp, face consequences? I wish we could get that lucky. You know it won't happen, though.

I really do wonder what made him decide to be a bitter asshat towards us, though.