Connect with us

BSM Writers

NBC Can’t Fire Roenick and Condone Weir, Lipinski

“Media companies keep stumbling over double standards, allowing the ousted hockey analyst a fair chance to beat the network in a lawsuit despite his risque comments on a podcast.”

Published

on

Does a week pass without another media company deciding to play God, flouting hypocrisy in making major decisions about broadcast careers? The latest victim in the double-standard game is Jeremy Roenick, fired by NBC Sports in February for podcast comments describing his fantasy: a sexual threesome with his wife and his co-panelist on the network’s hockey studio show, host Kathryn Tappen.

Talking to Barstool Sports — never a good idea — about his vacation to Portugal with his wife and Tappen, who is a close family friend, Roenick went gonzo. “I’m swimming with my wife and Kathryn, and they’ve got their bikinis on, and they look f—in’ smokin’. Ass and boobs everywhere. It’s great,’’ he said on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast last December. He then spoke about a prank he played with a guest at the resort who inquired if the three were having sex.

“I play it off like we’re going to bed together every night, the three of us,” Roenick said. “If it really came to fruition, that would really be good, but it’s never going to happen.”

Should Roenick have made the comments publicly? No. Should he have been dismissed? I could make a case for a firing, I suppose, if not for one substantial problem — NBC did not fire or, as far as I know, even reprimand its star figure-skating commentators, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, for a recent video spoof loaded with similar sexual innuendos. In another ill-advised idea, Weir and Lipinski — like Roenick, known for irreverence — taped a funny bit for NBC’s streaming service with accompanying footage of Olympic skater Bradie Tennell. In the promo, they referred to a camel toe and an affair, camel toe being a crude description of a female body part.

Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir to host NBC figure skating special on Sunday

The skit quickly was scrubbed from all platforms, including Lipinski’s Instagram feed. But oddly, it was defended by NBC Sports spokesman Dan Masonson, who said the promo was intended as a comedic sketch while telling the New York Post, “In retrospect, this sketch could have been completed with generic footage.’’ So, Weir and Lipinski were permitted to be risque … and Roenick wasn’t? NBC hired all three analysts to be off the wall, of course, knowing Roenick has made a career of outlaw behavior, such as the night during the 1998 Winter Olympics when I ventured into a karaoke bar in sleepy Nagano and saw him singing “Crazy Little Thing Called Love’’ as giddy Japanese locals cheered him on.

But because Roenick commented about a female network colleague, whereas Weir and Lipinski referred to a competitive skater, NBC evidently sees one offense as fireable and the other as forgivable. Also, the network just loves Tara and Johnny, as everyone knows. And, as Roenick is claiming, he is a straight man while it’s possible Weir was protected by the network as a gay man.

Is the entirety of NBC’s rationale really going to hold up in court? It will be a fascinating case to follow after Roenick, in a lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court, accused the network of wrongful termination, claiming discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation — and even linking the network’s agenda to Roenick’s support of President Trump. In today’s media culture, one would be foolish to downplay politics and/or sexual orientation as a corporate boardroom’s motivation for a firing.

“Mr. Roenick is the victim of double standards wrongfully asserted against him,” Roenick’s attorney, Scott William Clark, told the Post. “A person’s career should not be thrown away by a company as Mr. Roenick’s career was with NBC. We are confident that the evidence that will be brought to light from this lawsuit will reveal the rampant disregard of Mr. Roenick’s rights.”

NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood joins 'Executive Suite' podcast

One piece of evidence, says the Roenick camp, is an alleged comment made by NBC Sports executive Sam Flood. In the suit, Roenick says he asked Flood during the 2018 Winter Olympics about “colorful commentary regarding the body parts of ice skaters from Weir.’’ Responded Flood, according to court documents: “(Weir) is gay and can say whatever.’’

Roenick also says Flood discouraged him from speaking four years ago at the Republican National Convention. “You know who you work for,’’ said Flood, according to the lawsuit. “You work for NBC. That would not look good on your NBC record.’’ Roenick also claims Flood made flip comments about Trump, such as, “Your boy is messing up this country.’’

Yes, it’s very dirty, with recklessness from all involved. But this is what happens when media networks sloppily allow amnesia to enter personnel decision-making and don’t consider the intellectual shallowness of a double standard. As I write this piece, I see in my daily media browsing a glaring conflict of interest involving The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who wrote a glowing piece about Alex Rodriguez’s “audacious bid to buy the Mets’’ — um, isn’t Rosenthal a baseball colleague of Rodriguez at Fox Sports? Why would The Athletic publish such a self-serving piece for A-Rod? Or is that organization in bed with Fox, an ethical minefield that raises eyebrows about Rosenthal, Fox and The Athletic?

My conclusion on the Roenick case: NBC better be prepared to pay Mr. Fantasy millions AND oust Flood. We all should strive for equality in today’s evolving world, and the double standards in this case are egregious. Either fire Roenick and the figure skating commentators, or fire none of them.

BSM Writers

Grant Cohn’s Trolling of Players is Unacceptable

After an altercation between Javon Kinlaw of the San Francisco 49ers and Grant Cohn, it became clear that Kinlaw was being trolled by a member of the media.

Published

on

grant cohn

Grant Cohn is a media member who writes for the FanNation 49ers blog on SI.com. He also talks about the team on his YouTube channel, which has over 48,000 subscribers as of noon Thursday. His father, Lowell, was a longtime columnist in the Bay Area.

Javon Kinlaw is a defensive lineman, whom the San Francisco 49ers drafted in the first round despite concerns about the durability of his knee. He played four games last season, his second in the league.

The two were involved in two confrontations this week. The first one occurred off to the side of the 49ers’ practice field. Kinlaw apparently cursed at Cohn and knocked his hat from atop his head. Later in the day, Kinlaw again swore at Cohn, this time after joining a live stream on Cohn’s YouTube channel. (Side note: I have never felt so freaking old as I did while typing that previous sentence.)

OK. That’s my attempt at an absolutely straightforward and objective summary of a situation that scares the hell out of me. Not because a player was mad at a member of the media. I’ve had it happen to me and I’ve seen it happen to others. It’s my opinion that this has been happening for as long as human beings have scrutinized the athletic efforts of other human beings.

What scared me was that I was seeing some version of the future of sports media. A future in which media members behaved like YouTube trolls, acting purposely ridiculous or antagonistic to initiate conflicts that could be turned into more conflicts that would could be gleefully recounted as content for the audience. I thought that because that’s pretty much what Cohn did:https://youtu.be/4Hf9sjBttFY

Cohn essentially bragged about the number of different things he said that may have prompted Kinlaw’s reaction, and you know what? It worked. Kinlaw got mad. He confronted Cohn. Twice. TMZ published a story about it. So did SFGate.com.

This is troll behavior. You know, the online pests who say or do something intended to provoke a reaction, and once they get that reaction, they recount and scrutinize that reaction with an eye toward triggering another reaction. Lather, rinse repeat. Increasingly, entire online media ecosystems consist of nothing more than people who don’t like each other talking about how much they don’t like one another.

I’m not going to pretend this is entirely new in sports media. Sports columnists have been known to make reputations with their willingness to be critical of the home team. A huge part of Skip Bayless’ brand is his unwavering insistence on highlighting Lebron James’ perceived flaws. Stephen A. Smith has engaged in public feuds with players, namely Kevin Durant.

I do see a difference between this and what Cohn did, though. The reaction Bayless and Smith are primarily concerned with is from their audience, not their subjects. The subjects may get mad, but that’s not the primary goal. At least I hope it’s not.

What happens if that is the primary goal? What if someone is offering opinions not because it’s what they really think, but because they want to provoke a response from the subject? Media careers have been built on less.

I don’t know if that’s the case with Cohn. I’ve never talked to him in my life, and even if I had, it’s impossible to know someone’s true intent. But in listening to everything he said AFTER the initial confrontation with Kinlaw, I’m not willing to assume that Cohn was operating in good faith. Here’s how Cohn described the initial confrontation with Kinlaw, which occurred as practice was beginning.

“In the training room, I saw Javon Kinlaw, who is the king of the training room,” Cohn said. “He’s usually in the training room.”

Cohn said the two locked eyes, but were separated by about 70 yards at the time. Kinlaw then walked across the field to where the reporters were gathered. He stood directly behind Cohn.

“So I turn, and I say, ‘Wassup, Mook Dawg?’ “ Cohn said, referencing the nickname on Kinlaw’s Instagram account. “And he doesn’t say anything. And I say, ‘Why are you looking at me like that, Javon?’ “

“And then he said, ‘What are you going to do about it you bitch-ass,’ and then he said one more word that I can’t say,” Cohn said. “And then I turned to face him, and I said, ‘Oh, it’s like that?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, it’s like that.’ And then he knocked the hat off my head.”

OK. Pause. In my experience, when your job is to publicly describe and critique the performance and attitudes of professional athletes, there will be times in which the athletes do not care for your description or your critique. Some of those who are displeased will make their objections known to you.

However, there are two things that are unusual here: First, the fact Kinlaw knocked the hat off Cohn’s head, which is unacceptable. Second, Cohn then posted a video on  YouTube to not only talk about what had happened, but state he had been so critical of Kinlaw for so long he wasn’t sure what specifically sparked Kinlaw’s anger.

“Javon, what are you upset about?” Cohn asked toward the end of  his video. “Is it the fact that I said you have an 80-year-old knee? Is it the fact that I said that you’re a terrible pass rusher and you’re just a two-down player? Is it the fact that I said the Niners shouldn’t have drafted you and should have taken Tristan Wirfs instead. Is it the fact that I said that you’re unprofessional and immature.

“It escapes me, which of the hundred negative things I’ve said about Javon Kinlaw the last couple of years, moved him to approach me in such a way, but you know what, I applaud Javon Kinlaw for coming to speak to me directly, and I ask you, what do you think Javon Kinlaw is mad about.”

Cohn was trolling Kinlaw. No other word for it.

That night, Cohn was conducting a live stream on YouTube, which Kinlaw joined, while apparently eating dinner, to make declarative statements about the size of Cohn’s genitalia — among other things.

Neither one looked particularly impressive. Not Kinlaw, who was profane and combative with a member of the media, at one point making a not-so-subtle threat. Not Cohn, who asked Kinlaw, “Do you think I’m scared of you, Javon?” He also said, “I don’t even know why you’re mad, Javon.”

I think Kinlaw would have been better off ignoring Cohn. If I was Kinlaw’s employer, I would probably prefer he not log into video livestreams to make testicular comparisons. But honestly, I don’t care about what Kinlaw did. At all. He’s not on a team I root for. He didn’t physically harm anyone. He used some bad words in public.

I am bothered not just by Cohn’s actions, but by some of the reactions to them because of what I think this type of behavior will do to an industry I have worked in for 25 years. Credentialed media members who behave like Cohn did this week make it harder for other media members who are acting in good faith. Preserving access for people like him diminishes what that access will provide for those who aren’t trying to use criticism to create conflict that will become content.

I think Cohn knew what he was doing. In his livestream, before Kinlaw joined, Cohn stated he was not scared because he knew — by virtue of his father’s history in the business — that if Kinlaw had touched him he would potentially be entitled monetary compensation.

By now, it should be pretty apparent how problematic this whole thing is and yet on Thursday, a number of 49ers fans online were sticking up for Cohn as just doing his job. Dieter Kurtenbach, a Bay Area columnist, Tweeted: “Javon Kinlaw does not know that @GrantCohn was built for this.” Built for what? Winning Internet fights? Kurtenbach also deleted a Tweet in which he called Kinlaw “soft.”

Cohn’s father, Lowell, is a former columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. He promoted the first video his son made on Tuesday:

Sorry, I don’t find it funny because it’s another step down a path in which media members seek reactions at the expense of information. Where they look to make fun of players instead of learning about them. They’ll stop acting like journalists and start acting like the trolls who make their money by instigating a conflict, which they then film: “Jake Paul, reporting live from 49ers practice …”

If that’s the case, thank God I’m about to age out of this business, entirely. I’m 47 years old and I can’t believe there’s anyone in our industry who thinks what Cohn did this week is acceptable.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 75

Published

on

A new episode of Media Noise is all about reaction. Demetri reacts to the ManningCast’s big win at the Sports Emmys. Danny O’Neil reacts to people reacting to Colin Kaepernick’s workout in Las Vegas and Andy Masur reacts to John Skipper’s comments about Charles Barkley.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Bron Heussenstamm Blends Bleav Podcasts Advertising with SiriusXM

Bron Heussenstamm, the CEO of the Bleav Podcast Network says blending podcasting advertising with satellite radio’s reach is a victory for both sides.

Published

on

Last week, the Bleav (pronounced believe) Podcast Network announced a deal with SiriusXM to make all 32 NFL team-specific Bleav pods available on the SXM app. SXM can also air Bleav content on any of its sports channels. Each NFL Bleav show pairs a former player with a host to discuss team issues. Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, and Pac-Man Jones are amongst the former players Bleav has signed as talent.

I have hosted a Bleav podcast about Boise State football -the Kingdom of POD. I am usually provided 1-3 advertisers per episode by the network and get paid by the download. My subject matter is regional, so my take-home pay is usually under four figures. I have enjoyed the technical assistance and cross-promotion I receive and I enjoyed meeting Bleav CEO Bron Heussenstamm. Bron is Los Angeles-based, a USC graduate, and founded Bleav in 2018. We discussed the SXM deal, podcast advertising, and the future. 

Will the podcast advertisers be carried on the SXM distribution platform?

Yes, Bleav baked-in advertisements and hosts read ads are distributed across all platforms. This enables the host to do their show once through, making it as easy as possible for the hosts and consistent for the advertisers.

Bron Heussenstamm, CEO Bleav Podcast Network

How is advertising on Bleav different? 

We want to be more than a ‘host read ad’ or a ‘digital insert’ with our advertising partners. When companies work with Bleav shows and talent, those companies can receive our omnichannel of distribution points—podcast platforms, YouTube, socials, streamers, TV, radio, and more. This allows for consistent branding across all platforms: great talent presenting great companies to fans and consumers no matter where they consume content. 

What is the growth pattern for podcasts that you see? 

The industry trades have presented 400%-800% percent growth over the next ten years. Once the COVID fog lifted, we really saw these gains. Sports are always going to be at the forefront of culture. The increases in all sports sectors have certainly carried into the digital space. 

SXM has started with NFL shows but can also air more Bleav content – what does that look like? 

We’ve started with our NFL network of 32 team shows hosted by a former player. We’ve kept the door open for our NCAAB, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, Basketball, and Soccer networks. We’re happy for our hosts to be part of such a tremendous company and platform. SiriusXM can continue to amplify its voice and give fans the access and insight only a player can provide. 

The Interactive Advertising Bureau-IAB- says podcast revenue grew 72% last year to $1.4B and is expected to grow to $2B this year and double to $4B by 2024. Have you seen similar growth? What is driving the industry now, and what will be the primary cause of growth by 2024?  

There is a myriad of reasons for the growth. I‘ll lean into a couple. 

At Bleav, we launch and maximize the digital arm of industry leaders. The technology upgrades to allow hosts to have a world-class show — simulcast in both audio and video – from their home has led to an explosion of content. With this, the level of content creators has risen. Having a YouTube, RSS feed, podcast, and more is now part of the brand, right alongside Twitter and Instagram. 

If a company wants to advertise on Bleav in Chargers, we know exactly how many people heard Lorenzo Neal endorse their product. We can also safely assume they like the Chargers. The tracking of demo specifics for companies is huge. It’s a fantastic medium to present products to the right fans and consumers.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.