Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Le Anne Schreiber Taking Easterbrook to the Woodshed

Le Anne Schreiber is perhaps the single greatest addition to ESPN in a long time. She replaced the first ombudsman, George Solomon, and has proved to be a true watchdog of ESPN. Her latest smackdown is on the neverending piles of opinion pieces the .com puts out. She posits that there is frequently much ado about nothing and if there is something there, the reporters need to do more research and investigation before spewing another opinion piece.

I will be the first to admit that bloggers can frequently be guilty of just adding fuel to the rumor fires, since bloggers don't do much reporting themselves. Generally, we are just reactionary to news that is put out there, spew our own asinine opinions, or make stupid, crude and lewd jokes. But, I generally assume that rely on the reporting of the professionals for most of our material. There are exceptions but I think that is the general rule. However, there are lessons that bloggers can learn from Ms. Schreiber's column.

This, however, is not the point of this post...the point is that tWWL allowed Ms. Schreiber to take some serious shots at some ESPN's writers, in particular Gregg Easterbrook. Here are some choice excerpts of Schreiber on Easterbrook's little opinion piece on the Patriot's SpyGate imbroglio:

The amount of opinion was so vast, its range so wide and contradictory, that it was beyond hard for readers and viewers to get their bearings within it.

and, [Note: As pointed out by a reader, MC Bias, the above quote only refers to ESPN's work in general and not to Easterbrook's column specifically. I regret the error.]
And feel free to custom design the opinion of your choice out of rumor, speculation and twisted logic, as Tuesday Morning Quarterback Easterbrook did, not once, but twice, in manufacturing extended false analogies between Richard Nixon's Watergate and Bill Belichick's tapegate, as if stonewalling to the press is the same as stonewalling to congressional investigators, as if violating a league rule is the same as violating federal law, as if he didn't promptly hand over to the commissioner all the material that was asked of him and accept his punishment.

She really shouldn't hold back like that it will keep her blocked up.

The prior incarnation of the ombudsman, Mr. Solomon, offered some criticism and helpful suggestions but I cannot recall him ever being so blunt and critical of ESPN's work. That is the job of an ombudsman but I always thought the position had been a bit neutered under Solomon's tenure. Not so under Schreiber, she has repeatedly excoriated ESPN flaws and pointed out many of the conflicts of interest that seem to really affect the quality of their product.

However, I cannot recall either of the ombudspersons ever really calling out individual writers in such a straightforward manner. Hell, Jason Whitlock was fired for bagging on a fellow writer. Bill Simmons has commented before that his editors won't let him, although some don't believe that is true.

All I have to say is, keep it coming Ombudswoman, keep it coming. This is great stuff.