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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Colin Cowherd's Revisionist History

Recently, Craig at HSR got in touch via Twitter to ask if I'd seen Tom Shales' new book about ESPN and Colin Cowherds' comments in it regarding the MZone (aka "that 'end zone' thing" if no fact checking is involved).

For those of you not familiar with it, in March, 2006 CowherdItSomewhereElseFirst "borrowed" one of our bits, read it on his radio show without attribution, then wouldn't give credit when he was called out on his act of douchebaggery.

At the time, the story actually became pretty big news in the sports blogosphere as bloggers rallied to our defense and some in journalism quarters noted it due to the ethical questions Cowherd's actions raised.

In any event, since I had not read the book, Craig was kind enough to send us the excerpt:

COLIN COWHERD: "That 'end zone' thing was really just nothing. That was more Internet babble. I read something that somebody sent to me anonymously. I’d never seen it before. I just said, 'This is funny,' and then we read it on the air. We didn’t know who it was. And then we got a bunch of people e-mailing us and killing us for it, and after a while I e-mailed back to somebody and said, 'Come on, dude. Get over it. We get it. We made a mistake.' And then I wanted to apologize, and the company said, hey, they wanted to review the situation. ESPN’s an aircraft carrier, not a sailboat. Our turning radius is pretty slow; when controversy happens, it takes twenty-four or thirty-six hours to get everybody huddled, listen to the tape, see what they think. So I would have apologized immediately but management said, 'Stay away from it for twenty-four hours, then we’ll address it.' And I did. But that was nothing."

Shales, Tom (2011). Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN (p. 620). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Oh, where to begin.

First off, I'm a fan of Tom Shales' writing.  I loved his book on Saturday Night Live.  But as a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, the guy apparently didn't do one iota of basic reporting or fact checking when it came to this "anecdote" in the book.  I mean, to not even get the name of the blog correct?  Hell, if that is wrong in the very first line, how can you trust the other facts? (As Craig said when he messaged me about this, it took him a minute to even realize what Cowherd was referring to due to the "end zone" error.)

Even more disappointing, to my knowledge (and inbox), no attempt was made to contact us here at the "end zone" to, you know, get the other side of the story.  Apparently Cowherd's word was gold as far as Shales was concerned.

Yikes.  

Because that's not exactly what happened.  

First off, Cowherd didn't say he was reading something that somebody had sent him anonymously, as stated in Mr. Shales' book.  Listen to the piece right here.  Cowherd launches into it like it's a pre-planned bit and flat out says, "We went on the Internet this morning and we found a Wonderlic test."

He didn't, as claimed, say "This is funny" like he just got a reader email and was reading it.  No.  He wanted it to sound like it was something they created.  But hey, don't take our word for it, listen to the link above.

And Cowherd neither "wanted" to apologize and he certainly didn't want to do it "immediately."  In fact, when Cowherd got called on the carpet about his hackery, he flat out said he would not apologize.

It was only after the story started to have legs and was getting picked up by more and more sites - and the ESPN ombudsman got involved after being contacted by multiple sources - did Cowherd apologize.  No, Cowherd didn't "want" to apologize, he was forced to.

Then again, none of this should come as any surprise.  We are talking about a guy who, a year after "that 'end zone' thing," urged his listeners to launch a DNS attack against another blog, The Big Lead.

So don't be fooled by CowherdItSomewhereElseFirst's attempt to rewrite history.  He may have a bigger microphone on his side, but thankfully we (and others) have the facts on ours.

8 comments:

phil said...

OK... for the hundredth time..........who is Colin Cowherd? I've never heard of him.

surrounded in columbus said...

phil beat me to it.

kudos.

Andy said...

I would rather listen to static than that ass clown.

Yost said...

Aren't they one and the same, Andy?

Ex said...

Sad that wikipedia gets the facts closer to right then this book did.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Cowherd

But you might want to update the part where they say you say he was "cool" about it.

Yost said...

Ex, Well...

In our postscript about the incident after he apologized, we (myself and Benny, who ran the site with me at the time), wanted to take the high road and put the episode behind us. So we said the following:

"Yesterday on his show, ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd gave the M Zone full credit for the Wonderlic bit he read on the air last Wednesday. He took responsibility for the episode and was very classy. As such, case closed."

However, since then, he has been a complete and total douchebag, even blaming us on air for being the reason he can no longer reply to listener emails (as opposed to accepting that it's b/c of his asshat thievery then dickish responses).

Dennis said...

He is pretty much everything wrong with national sports talk radio rolled up into one package. Not to get political, but he reminds me of Sarah Palin who will never admit that she was wrong about something.

I try hard not to listen, though I do fall off the wagon from time to time. Though it usually only takes me a few minutes for me to realize the error of my ways. The local guys from 3-6 on the same station that carries him from 10-1 rip him all the time.

He is like Stern in the sense that he says stuff just to aggreviate folks and his numbers are probably good because a) there are not a lot of other options and b) like Stern a lot of the people that hate him listen even more than those that like him so they can continue to justify why they think he is such an asshat.

TitleIX said...

Stupid is as stupid does.
Cowherd is aptly named imho.....