Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comSo far this week, the governor of New Jersey has publicly belittled a Jets columnist, Keith Olbermann returned to ESPN in a hail of gunfire and a Twitter war erupted between a national new-gatherer and a tabloid columnist …
What the $*&@ is going on in Jets-land this week?!?
Most fans would tell you that the Jets beat has become a one-way mission into the jungle. Better yet, a black hole from which no one can escape. All matter, all light, all knowledge, once crossing over that mathematically defined astral plane gets locked forever inside — never to return. No matter how many sensational stories with poor sourcing one writes, no matter how “clever” one’s Twitter comedy routine gets, no matter how cutting one can be at the expense of the organization, there’s no coming back. Running with that metaphor, Jenny Vrentas never crossed the event horizon and probably explains why she is now at SI.
In case you missed it (we know you didn’t), Chris Christie backed his man Rex Ryan by sharing his pointed opinions on Manish Mehta from the Daily News, calling Mehta an “idiot” among other things, via Bob’s Blitz.
“Idiot. The guy’s a complete idiot. Self-consumed, underpaid, reporter … the only way he’s empowered is because we’re spending all this time talking about Manish Mehta this morning … Who, by the way, I couldn’t pick out of a lineup and no Jets fan gives a damn about Manish Mehta … We shouldn’t be giving this dope, you know, the amount of airtime we’ve given him already.”
That of course came at the absolute perfect timing for the man who was returning from his exile on Elba, the man whose mix of sports and political background overlaid perfectly for this story in his first night back on air in front of the Bristolian Empire. It was like stealing Baden-Württemberg from under their own noses …
Like any good demagogue, Olbermann used the frenzy of the day [full video here] to his political advantage … not that this less-educated citizen necessarily minded.
[Olbermann] then performed a lengthy lobotomy on Manish Mehta’s New York Daily News story on Rex Ryan (headline: ‘Rex Ryan’s decision to play Mark Sanchez in fourth could cost him job’).
“Who decided this could cost him his job?” asked an incredulous Olbermann. “Who are his sources? Are we witnessing the end of journalism? He is just making stuff up!”
He lambasted the Daily News for creating a story out of thin air, and then reporting on their own non-story. It was a pointed, Daily Show-esque moment, possessing a level of insight and skill that the Worldwide Leader desperately needs.
Some, like Bart Hubbuch at the NY Post (more on him in a minute), will argue that Olbermann’s slam of the Daily News and its associated acts should be directed at his own network. The old “remove the plank from your own eye” argument … but that’s naive in a world where everyone’s bent. And as Deadspin points out, maybe was the veiled message Olbermann and guest Jason Whitlock delivered anyway.
… we read it differently; are we really to expect notorious curmudgeons like Olbermann and Whitlock to not notice the irony? The entire conversation, to us, seemed a commentary on ESPN journalism practices, even if they couldn’t actually say that.
And they don’t need to. Olbermann’s shows—including his previous ones on Current and MSNBC—have always expected viewers to read between the lines. They’re not for the uninformed or those who need to be spoonfed, and that’s what makes it so interesting he chose to return to Bristol (or that small part of Bristol that overlooks Times Square) in the first place. If you were expecting Olbermann to directly criticize his employer on the first show, you might have been asking a bit much. But if you’re willing to listen critically, we’re betting he has plenty to say about the WWL’s journalism practices.
Still, the skirmishing wasn’t over, as last night proved, when Bart Hubbuch got into a Twitter spat with Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports over an article in which LaCanfora bashed the local beat by implying that Idzik has neutered the sources that have leaked stuff to the local reporters.
Here’s a sampling:
… new general manager John Idzik has rid this building of many of its most willing off-the-record sources, and that Idzik has yet to endear himself to a media corps seemingly hostile to his very arrival, and you have a bona fide tabloid fight on your hands, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie now involved and chaos still the norm for Gang Green.
Rather than waste a bunch of real estate, read the Storify timeline of the slap fight.
/Twiddles thumbs, muses on “the gool ol’ days” …
OK, back with us?
Great! Yikes, that came within one tweet of one of them calling the other an instrument of the facist football industrial complex!
What gets lost in all of this intense navel-gazing and media on media violence is, of course what fans ACTUALLY WANT to read and learn about. Football.
So while all this is going on, on the other side of the event horizon many football fans are waiting with varying degrees of patience for discussion about the actual game.
I polled readers this morning whether they would prefer discussion about who’s calling shots & how they’re doing it, or breakdown/explanation/projection of football.
See responses for yourself, but the results favored football talk.
To the New York Jets’ credit, this is something that Rex Ryan and the staff have been trying to change the message on for a few weeks through their film breakdowns as we wrote about earlier this summer.
Apparently, the message seems to have fallen on some deaf ears, or at least, cynical ones in the media room:
That’s not an attempt to pick on anyone. Others might have thought or tweeted the same things, but they are clear examples of what was going on in the minds of some in media room. The highest levels of the Jets organization know that fans love actual football breakdown and are making an effort to provide it for eager fans, and yet it is immediately dismissed as unimportant or a stalling method. Sigh.
The most passionate person we know about film room breakdown and the Jets just so happens to write for this site, so we’ve asked Bent to share his thoughts on this particular facet:
There’s a reason I spend 16 hours a week breaking down film for TJB. It’s thirst for knowledge, one rarely satisfied by certain corners of the media.
So, what a treat it was to have Rex force the issue and tell us the information we crave, while highlighting areas that weren’t getting enough attention. This could have led to an interesting series of follow-up questions, but the media ignored it.
The third time they did it, the media openly mocked the process, calling it a time-wasting exercise to prevent them from asking the questions fans want the answers to and barely mentioning the issues Rex was to which drawing attention.
Ever been to a concert and not been able to hear the opening act because everyone ignored them and talked loudly the whole way though it?
That’s the level of disrespect we’re talking about here. They don’t want to hear it…even if we do.
So I’m back to spending 16 hours a week trying to figure out stuff for myself. Maybe I’m overly obsessive, but that’s what real fans are like. I’ve also been interacting with like-minded Jets fans on a daily basis for the better part of a decade. Therefore, it grinds my gears to have people in the media dictate to us “what we want”. It’s like WWE’s Vince McMahon screwing one of the most popular wrestlers out of the title and then telling the audience that he’s “giving the people what they want”. That’s a fictional character being purposely irrational to illicit hatred for the bad guys.
Unfortunately, in real life, the bad guys usually get their way.
Just as a comparison, let’s look at the murderers row of actual game analysts who cover the team in New England. Headlined by writers like Mike Reiss and Field Yates, it is backed up ably with a solid all-around group like Shalise Manza-Young and Karen Guregian.
Less than a decade ago, the Patriots were a beat that was belittled for their inability to get the coach talk, and yet those reporters took the reality of the situation and used it to their advantage. The work of guys like Greg Bedard, Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer among others have catapulted them into national jobs.
Using the trappings of The Fourth Estate to systematically dismantle the team won’t make anyone Woodward or Bernstein. For those covering the Jets and clawing for a way out? There’s no escape anymore in that direction. Maybe it would be better for some around the team to see where this thing takes them instead.