The ESPN Ombudsman sure did put Colin Cowherd into his place today. What wrath! What rage! What a dressing-down he received!
Oh, wait, that was the stuff I read over at thebiglead.com. The ombudsman herself couldn’t even summon the intestinal fortitude to put a link to the site that ESPN grievously wronged, and seemed far more piqued at having to write an “extra” column than at the actual act itself. Her statement of condemnation doubtless sent the radio host cowering:
Some of the politer terms my correspondents used to describe Cowherd's behavior were immature, irresponsible, arrogant, malicious, destructive and dumb. I agree.
You know, if her correspondents are so much more lucid than her, and they fill her inbox so capaciously, perhaps they should write the column.
Even worse is the “official” response of ESPN’s senior vice president Traug Keller (wasn’t that the name of the evil wizard in ‘Beastmaster’?):
"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."
Whew! I’m sure glad that they explained that criminal mischief perpetrated against those critical of the network won’t be tolerated in the future! And since they italicized cannot, you can be absolutely sure that the talking-to he gave Cowherd was severe in the extreme! I imagine there were disapproving tongue clicks to go along with it.
Let me tell you something: what Colin Cowherd did is far worse than what Don Imus did. When Don Imus made his ignorant, racist joke he revealed himself for what he was: a bigot and a fool. Imus damaged himself most of all, and only himself financially.
Colin Cowherd purposefully destroyed the business of a website because he did not agree with their criticism. He did no damage at all to himself, beyond what his employer imposes, and instead damaged another party. And every single person that helped him should be ashamed of themselves, because Cowherd didn’t do it by himself. He was the demagogue, but his legions of fans were the foot soldiers that carried out his will.
For this, ESPN waggles its fingers and writes a policy doubtless full of loopholes. Let us not forget that this is Cowherd’s second offense! He steals material from M Zone, then arrogantly dismisses critics until he has to issue a one-sentence admission that he plagiarized it. Now he knocks thebiglead.com offline for 48 hours, issues a fingers-crossed apology, and ESPN looks the other way.
If nothing else, his colleagues should be ashamed. Where are the calls from ESPN.com for Cowherd’s termination, to match the high dudgeon we read about Don Imus? Will Cowherd find himself banned from ESPN shows? The SportsGuy, riding tall in the saddle at ESPN, will say nothing, even though a maggot like Cowherd could have done the same to Simmons years ago before he hit it big. Simmons didn’t sign that contract extension to bite the hand that feeds him.
It’s this institutional hubris that will eventually doom ESPN, ombudsman or no. Speaking of which, her last point is a classic:
This is not the planned second posting I mentioned at the end of Thursday's introductory column. That will come later this week.
Sorry to wake you up, Ms. Schreiber! You can go back to sleep on Golden Pond now!