February 25, 2010, - 2:23 pm
ESPN–which was once edgy, cool, and had a sense of humor–has lost all that. And that’s why the cable network is considered by many (including me) to be old hat and boring. Instead, political correctness (including calling McCain voters “racist”) is the order of the day. This is the network that looks the other way when it hires a serial sexual harasser (Steve Phillips), but goes ballistic if one of its personalities dares to describe another in a very accurate way.
ESPN’s Humorless Speech Police Hard @ Work
Tony Kornheiser knows this more than anyone. ESPN suspended the “Pardon the Interruption” and ESPN talk radio host for two weeks and forced him to apologize to ESPN reporter Hannah Storm, live on the air. His crime: Kornheiser and his on-air staff mocked Storm and ESPN’s Chris Berman, respectively, for her clothing and his weight. But that’s talk radio, where witty commentary and observation are most welcome and entertaining.
And Kornheiser was on the money on both of them. He said that Hannah Storm’s skirts were too short and tight for her age and noted that Chris Berman (whose name he didn’t mention) did ads for a weight loss program, but quickly gained back all the weight he lost. Frankly, Kornheiser did a public service in both cases: telling us to beware of a gimmicky dieting program which doesn’t work in the long-term and alerting ESPN that the network might not want to have a reporter galavanting around like an aging stripper.
Moreover, Kornheiser said this all in a sharp, funny way. Here are the quotes that got him disciplined. On Storm:
Hannah Storm in a horrifying, horrifying outfit today. She’s got on red go-go boots and a Catholic school plaid skirt way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now. She’s got on her typically very, very, very tight shirt. She looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body. I know she’s very good, and I’m not supposed to be critical of ESPN people, so I won’t. But Hannah Storm, come on now. Stop. What are you doing? She’s what I would call a Holden Caulfield fantasy at this point.”
Check out the photo above. That’s the referenced outfit. Kornheiser hit the bull’s eye. Storm looks like she’s headed to the Scottish Hookers’ Union’s annual Christmas party. (Yes, she looks good for her age–she is 47 and will turn 48 in June.)
On Chris Berman (who, again, he did not mention by name):
I know I’m not supposed to be critical of ESPN people, like if I point out that people say that they lost 50 or 60 pounds have actually gained all the way back.
[Kornheiser’s co-host:] Gained the weight back, back, back, back.
Again, this is the network that employed Steve Phillips, despite his admitted record of repeated sexual harassment and sleeping with co-workers at his previous jobs. And yet they discipline Tony Kornheiser for these relatively harmless, accurate observations?
ESPN = Especially Stumped on Perspective Network.
(Full disclosure: My lifelong friend, the brilliant David Karp, was Tony Kornheiser’s agent for many years, but I do not know Kornheiser. Never met him.)
Tags: Chris Berman, ESPN, ESPN Speech Police, Hannah Storm, Pardon the Interruption, Speech police, Steve Phillips, Tony Kornheiser