Monday, August 27, 2007

Myers Sorry He Called Reporter A "Retard"; Meant To Say "Idiot" Instead

Philadelphia Inquirer Finally Weighs In On Lockeroom Shoutfest With Phillies Closer
A day after the insults, pointed fingers and bleeps, Phillies relief pitcher Brett Myers was calm, to a point, in discussing his Saturday night smackdown with Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Sam Carchidi (see below post for more).
That may have been due to the fact that Carchidi, one of the Inky's backup Phillies writers, was not in attendance, replaced yesterday by Jim Salisbury. Suffice to say, though, the bad blood still flows.
Myers said he was sorry to have called Carchidi a retard, after Carchidi questioned
Myers' assessment of two home runs that he gave up to lose the game as looking like "pop-ups." Myers said he simply should have called Carchidi an "idiot" and moved on.
As for an apology to Carchidi, Myers says don't hold your breath. But Salisbury reports Carchidi isn't backing down.

"I stuck my finger in his face because he called me a retard. If asking tough questions is stirring things up, I'm guilty as charged."

A little context is warranted. This isn't the first time Carchidi has gotten under Myers' skin, apparently. While his primary beat is high school sports, Carchidi has worked as a backup Phillies writer since the 1980s. From Myers' vantage point, that only qualifies Carchidi to lap up whatever bromides and lame excuses Myers throws his way.

"He covers high school sports and comes in here and tries to stir things up, and we definitely didn't need it after a tough loss."

Randy Miller, who covers the Phillies for several suburban Philadelphia papers, noted that Myers returned a few minutes after the confrontation and apologized to the remaining reporters.
As we discussed yesterday, Carchidi could have very easily ignored Myers' insult and not instigated a further exchange and risk becoming part of the story. But there's nothing in the journalistic canon that says reporters should remain mute while being verbally abused.
It was easy for Carchidi to be incredulous over Myers' assessment of the homers, just as easily as it was for Myers to be pissed off. But if that was the case, you walk away, you don't comment, you say something else that doesn't make a bad situation worse. And for that, Myers should be sorry.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Phillies Closer and "Retard" Philadelphia Inquirer Reporter In Locker-Room Smackdown

Sam Carchidi May Have Asked Brett Myers a Fair Question, But Did He Step Over the Line Afterwards?

Look, it's ugly enough watching the Philadelphia Phillies' chances at the playoffs melt away, especially when the bullpen coughs up yet another loss.
It's hard for the fans, harder on the players, and maybe hardest for those in the press box who have to think of another way to describe the gruesome spectacle of another late-inning loss.
And apparently the reporters are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore.
Such was the case after last night's 4-3 Phillies loss to the San Diego Padres. Chief culprit was closer Brett Myers, who gave up two solo homers.
Myers, according to Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Sam Carchidi's dispatch that appears online, said he first believed both shots were initially pop-ups when they left the bat.
But Carchidi and the Inky then chose to ignore the sideshow that followed, namely because Carchidi became part of the story.
According to the Associated Press, Carchidi rightly questioned Myers's characterization of the hits as pop-ups. Myers was not pleased, as you can hear, calling Carchidi a "retard" and further slagged him for being a "fill-in reporter" who "didn't know shit about baseball."
Carchidi then asked Myers to spell "retard," and the verbal fisticuffs ensued. Myers calls Carchidi a "fucking idiot." Carchidi calls him a "piece of shit" and "stupid ass" while players restrained the two and pulled them away.
Carchidi makes no mention of the exchange, which was dutifully reported in other papers, including the Bucks County Courier-Times and the Trentionian, whose reporters each write for several suburban Philly papers.
It was left to Inquirer sports columnist Phil Sheridan to discuss the incident in his blog, where he tries to provide some context, while chiding Carchidi, whom he calls a "friend and longtime colleague."

If Myers says he thought the two home runs were outs in most parks, then fine. That's his opinion. Probably I would have just written that down and quoted him accurately. Once the name-calling begins, no one is going to look or sound good the next day.

True enough. Same goes for reporters not wanting to become part of the story. But on the other hand, I can understand Carchidi trying to get an honest answer out of Myers. Locker rooms are the place where bromides and platitudes openly thrive.
Players and coaches, especially after a tough loss, have precious little to say, if they say it at all. If they utter something that defies logic, then they should be called out. Just because you're a reporter means you should remain mute while you're called names by some underachieving relief pitcher -- especially one who took a leave of absence from the team last year after being accused of smacking his wife in public.
Carchidi may have gone a little far in asking Myers to spell "retard," but he gets props for not being cowed by a guy who wants to cover up his own mistakes by being verbally abusive.
However, Carchidi and the Inky could have been at least a little more forthright in his game story and made some reference to the incident, or at least mentioning Myers' reaction to the questions. It was part of the story, and it shouldn't have been left to other media outlets to tell it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Phil Rizzuto: The Accidental Poet

The Passing of The Scooter at age 89 (or was it 90?) Truly the End of a Broadcasting Era

Whatever you thought of Phil Rizzuto as a broadcaster (as a player his bona fides are undisputed), he was unforgettable. And funny. And maddening. And never boring.
So much of what he said would have been regarded as apocryphal had it come from anyone else. After hearing that Pope Paul VI died, Rizzuto remarked. "Well, that puts a damper on even a Yankee win."
Rizzuto started in 1957, back when it was still OK for ex-jocks who ventured up to the broadcast booth to learn on the job.
There was no polish, no panache, to his delivery. But there was passion. Even if the game was really boring.
But that's when things could get really interesting, as he'd launch into some baffling yet compelling digressions. Their essence was deftly captured by Hart Seely and Tom Peyer in O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto," in which they turned some of Rizzuto's ramblings and free associations into poetry.
Keats and Frost had nothing to worry about. But for Yankee fans, they are golden words. A few nibbles:

Two balls and a strike. You know what they had on TV today, White? "Bridge on the River Kwai." Everybody should have gotten an Academy Award for that movie. I don't know how many times I've seen it. About forty times. Alec Guinness! William Holden! Three and one the count. I just heard somebody whistle. You know that song? That's what they whistle. Nobody out. And he pops it up.

Or this classic:

And he hits one in the hole They're gonna have to hurry. THEY'LL NEVER GET HIM! They got him. How do you like that. Holy cow. I changed my mind before he got there. So that doesn't count as an error.
And somehow it really didn't.
Howard Cosell told Rizzuto his broadcasting career would be short. "You look like George Burns and you sound like Groucho Marx," he intoned.
True, maybe, but he lasted 40 years in the booth nonetheless.
If you never heard him do a Yankee game, you can get a good taste of who Rizzuto was as a man and broadcaster, and the esteem in which he was held by generations of fans, by listening to the speech at his too-belated induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. The half-hour address sounded more like one of his game calls minus the balls and strikes.
He told the Cooperstown hordes what happened after he incurred the wrath of a captain while serving in the Navy during World War II.
"They put me off the ship. But unfortunately, it was in New Guinea. I thought I'd see a lot of Italians there."
Cannolis just won't taste the same now. Go in peace, you huckleberry.

Monday, August 13, 2007

NBC Plays It Safe for Fourth Hour of "Today"

It won't be official until tomorrow, but The Hollywood Reporter has word that NBC has tapped a few of its regulars on the shoulder to host the fourth, yes, fourth, hour of "Today," which will bow on Sept. 11.
Come on down, Ann Curry, Natalie Morales and Hoda Kotb, along with a rotating cast of guest hosts that will include Giada DiLaurentis and Tiki Barber, among others.
The first two are already in residence in the third hour-- already laden with the cooking, fashion, entertainment and home-improvement segments that will rule the roost at 10, after Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira have high-tailed it out of Rockefeller Center.
Still not known if Curry will remain newsreader between 7-9 a.m. That's a long haul on camera, especially if she has to also double up on prep for "Dateline." And will Al Roker also linger for the full four?
Exactly why is there a need for a fourth hour of "Today," especially when the third hour has seen its ratings drop for the last three years? Just follow the money, specifically the greenbacks doled out by affiliates, who would otherwise fill the hour with syndicated programming that, lately, has either tanked or eked out middling ratings.
Instead, Jeff Zucker & Co. want to further milk the franchise that already earns an estimated $250 million a year in profits, help affiliates avoid paying for lousy shows and still give them enough local commerical slots to make it worth their while.
And it appears the affiliates are on board. The Reporter says the 10 a.m. hour is cleared in 96 percent of the U.S.

Wall Street Journal Rove Scoop Hidden Behind Soon-to-Crumble Chinese Wall

Will Murdoch Find His Way Around Editorial Overseers to Break Big News on A-1 instead of A-15?

The Wall Street Journal is vaunted for its rigid separation of its news coverage from its editorial page, and for good reason.
The paper's turgidly conservative Republican viewpoints on anything and everything sometimes verge on self-parody. But they're nothing if not consistent, which can be a good thing, as today's scoop on Karl Rove high-tailing it out of the White House by Aug. 31 shows.
Under editorial page editor Paul Gigot, the editorials and columns have been unapologetically pro-Bush regardless of how untenable such a stance might be.
Which means Gigot gets his calls returned, or doesn't have to wait to make a call, when he needs the latest neocon talking points.
To wit, Gigot's article on his chat with Rove, where Rove revealed his plans. A scoop for a kindred spirit. Still, Gigot is vexed that he nonetheless falls short of BFF status.

"I've known Mr. Rove for 19 years and spoken to him hundreds of times. Yet I can't recall a single instance where he disclosed how his views differed from Mr. Bush's."


So, while this is arguably the lead story of the day, Gigot's piece appeared on the Opinion page, with a refer at the top of A-1 (the online version is labeled Commentary, which is absent in the print version, probably because it's below an Opinion banner. Actually, there's very little in the way of commentary in the piece).
Under the Journal's strict line of demarcation, he could not have transformed his story to make it suitable for the news report, which rang in with its own Rove article after he and Bush did the hug thing on the White House lawn.
Which is how it should be, given Gigot's usual role as reactionary Bush lap dog.
Of course, that might no longer be the case, once Rupert Murdoch gets his mitts on the Journal. Sure, he has alleged editorial overseers to ensure he doesn't trample over the Journal's standards and traditions. But whatever you may think of him, the guy is a newshound.
It's hard to fathom he'd let a story of this nature linger on a back page, Gigot or no, especially when he can leave The New York Times, The Washington Post and the other Beltway media elite eating their dust playing catch-up.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

TimesSelect Obit Won't Sound Death Knell for Paid Content (At Least Not Yet)

With word yesterday, courtesy of the gleeful New York Post, that the slimmed-down gray lady was dumping subscription-based TimesSelect, came the wagging that the Internet would now be forever liberated from the tyranny of publishers who have the temerity to charge us for online content.
Not so fast.
True, none other than Rupert Murdoch has been mulling the prospect of abandoning the paid model that has served the online version of The Wall Street Journal so well. Never mind that actually makes a healthy sum, compared to the rest of Dow Jones.
Scott Karp, on his Publishing 2.0 blog, is eager to add fuel to that fire:

Even if it’s true that the WSJ has the highest quality business content bar none, the web is so awash in good, great, and utterly crappy business content, all free, that WSJ is holding onto its paid subscribers through sheer brand strength alone.

And why is that such a bad thing?

If the Journal can pull off that feat, then no need, for now, to tinker with that formula, which is the envy of the beleaguered newspaper industry.
Karp is more on target with newspapers that believe a critical mass are happy to read the paper online, don't want to be bothered with the print version, and will happily pay for that privilege.
The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y. and the Albuquerque Journal are among those that keep their product behind a pay wall.
The Journal justifies that decision by proclaiming it delivers "extra news and value" to print subscribers, who actually get it for free with their subscription.
Of course, most newspaper sites provide a lot more, including video, podcasts and chat, on the Web than what's found in print.
And that's all free.
Expect the Gazette and Journal to follow suit before long. There's simply more to be made from advertising linked to content open to all than subscription fees.
As for, it's not broke and Murdoch sure as hell won't have to fix it.

When Kurt Met Justin Redux

Eichenwald Saga Keeps Getting Curiouser and Curiouser

Kurt Eichenwald didn't play by the book when he wrote for The New York Times in 2005 about efforts to save a boy who was being victimized by pedophiles who paid to watch him commit sex acts online.
The searing, expose ran nearly 7,000 words, and included a chronicle of Eichenwald's efforts to help Justin Berry find a lawyer, meet with prosecutors and get him badly needed counseling.
Eichenwald was criticized in some quarters for stepping over that imaginary line of involvement with a source that reporters dare not cross. But this was a special circumstance, the Times recognized it as such. Thus emerged a remarkable and troubling story.
The real trouble, though, emerged when it was revealed Eichenwald actually paid Berry $2,000 -- which he said was actually a loan that he demanded be repaid and was by Berry's grandmother.
Still, it gave the appearance of paying a source -- a big-time no-no, though Eichenwald has vehemently denied he did anything wrong.
Now comes word that Eichenwald may have paid additional money to Berry and a man who ran the Web site where Berry appeared.
Richard Perez-Pena reports in today's Times that as much as $1,100 more was put into a PayPal account controlled by Berry.

“I have no independent memory of any payments I am alleged to have made in June 2005 through PayPal,” he said in a statement yesterday. “If these PayPal payments did occur in June 2005, I am deeply sorry that my inability to remember them has resulted in permitting a series of convicted felons to cast doubt on the nature of my wife’s and my efforts to save a young man who was caught in the grip of a cycle of drugs and abuse.”

Eichenwald, who now works at Portfolio, is referring to his contention that the initial $2,000 payment was made not as a reporter but as a person worried that Berry was in danger.

The statement to the Times is all well and good. What's more troubling is the weasel words "independent memory."
What the hell is that, anyway?
In any event, why would it be so hard to remember making an additional payment to Berry. Giving the boy cash was ostensibly not a regular occurrence, so you'd think it'd be pretty easy to recall that happening.
You want to root for Eichenwald because he wrote such a good story that, ethical lapses aside, was a gripping yarn that deserves acclaim. But he just doesn't make it easy.