Monday, October 29, 2007

FOX in the dog house?

A new self-congratulatory promo from FOX News 29 (Philly) shows some guy walking briskly away from a FOX newsman, and the voiceover asks, in this really smarmy tone of voice, "If he didn't do anything wrong...why's he running away from [our reporter]?"

Gee, I dunno...maybe because he doesn't think he owes your obnoxious reporter an interview? Maybe because he resents the fact that today's reporters behave in ways that might get them arrested for stalking, were they in any other line of work? Meanwhile, what about the implications of the question posed in the voiceover itself: So if you refuse to submit to a reporter's interrogation, that automatically means you're guilty of something? Has FOX not heard of a little thing called the Fifth Amendment? The presumption of innocence? Yanno, I'd like to see how long today's high-profile investigative hotshots would put up with the same level of 24/7 scrutiny* that they routinely inflict on ordinary civilians. Better still, how 'bout we chase Brian Williams or Katie Couric around for a while; what say we find out who they're sleeping with, or what other skeletons are in their closets?

The utter arrogance of these media types. Or maybe they're not arrogant so much as calculating: Intellectually, perhaps, they'd recognize the truth of everything I'm writing here, but they're more interested in pandering to the audience—establishing themselves as the ever-vigilant guardians of their viewers' best interests. After all, who really cares what it says in an ancient document like the U.S. Constitution?

Until, that is, somebody says or does something that the media perceive as an infringement on their First Amendment rights. Then sit back and watch the sparks fly in NewsWorld!

By the way, the creature shown above is actually a jackal, not a fox. It seemed more appropriate.

**********************

And here's FOX pre-game baseball analyst Joe Girardi, last night, on why the Rockies—who came into the World Series having won 21 of 22 games—found themselves on the verge of losing to the Red Sox in four straight (a humiliation they would, in fact, suffer, before the night was out): "I see a different look in their eyes." Girardi added, "It's almost as if they're expecting something bad to happen." (Hmm. Think the Colorado players might need those new Gillette razors?)

Look, let me clarify something. I'm not saying that emotion plays no role in sports. Of course it does. Everything plays some role, including the temperature on the field. But unlike the temperature, emotion cannot be measured; and even if it could be, there's just no way to quantify in any meaningful sense what role it plays, or how to use it for maximum effect. (Question: How do we know for sure that a positive attitude isn't bad for you? I know what you're thinking...that sounds crazy...but humor me. How do we know? Self-esteem sounds like it would be good for you, too, and that certainly hasn't proved out in schools.) So: In assessing sports performance, why would we instinctively look first to an emotional/attitudinal explanation—something that can't be measured; something that even insiders call an "intangible"—when there are so many tangible explanations? Bat speed can be measured. Foot-speed can be measured. Strength can be measured. So can coordination and agility. (That is in fact the basis of the NFL Combines, which play a significant role in the order in which college athletes are drafted—and can even have a make-or-break effect on the careers of marginal NFL candidates who show poorly.)

Attitude could be helpful. Attitude could be harmful. The same attitude could be helpful in one case and harmful in another. We simply have no way of knowing.

Unless you're Joe Girardi, and you can tell by the look in their eyes....

* translation: harassment.

17 comments:

gregory said...

whatever are you doing watching fox tv?? ... lol ... but the larger point of your two part post is a great one.... the insatiable voracity of the media for the emotional ... it is nearly frightening, certainly off-putting, reprehensible ... and all too human, the institutionalization of gossip ...

and since the "media" are for-profit businesses, shouldn't the interviewees be charging for providing the raw materials used?

as to your second point, i think we have invented the concept of "intangibles" to try to explain the things that go beyond the measurables in sport or elsewhere... horse racing is a good example of where the look in the eye can be a decisive factor in betting ... cliches are of course ridiculous, but what to do? language is anyway an approximation, the word sugar has no sweetness at all....

this media thing, i hope you keep pounding on that topic, a new understanding is ready to be crystallized about it in our culture, i think ...

Cal said...

I guess the Fox affiliates don't communicate with each other. Here's a link to a recent incident at their Dallas station:

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/terry-trippany/2007/10/18/reporter-suspended-berating-senior-citizen-who-fatally-shot-suspecte


I can see why Girardi can get on his players nerves. I give him credit for what he did in Florida, but I wonder how long his act will play in NY. (Now that it is known he will be the next manager of the Yankees).

gregory said...

thought you might enjoy this link, it has it all, sport and war talk, motivational help, success gibberish, and you can hire these people to help you achieve, etc...

http://www.afterburnerseminars.com/

gregory said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve Salerno said...

Well, Greg, let's be fair... We can't turn this into a "FOX phenomenon," at least insofar as the reporter's tactics and the network's touting of same. In fact, some years back I got as much high-level hate mail as I've ever gotten for a piece I did for the Wall Street Journal (probably not another favorite media outlet of yours); I wrote about the truly asinine tactics--so-called ambush interviews in particular--then being used to great effect (or at least to secure great ratings) by the various "newsmagazine" shows on the three major networks. Such tactics made for great confrontation-TV, but for truly piss-poor journalism, as they seldom yielded anything of actual informational value. They just make their targets look bad, and in a very unfair and prejudicial way.

Steve Salerno said...

Cal, I hadn't heard about Girardi--it's been a busy morning--but damn, they sure hinted about it enough during the WS!

gregory said...

i was teasing you about watching fox news... it has become a shiboleth for the "left" side of the blogoshpere, who consider it something like pravda for the current administration, as i am sure that you know...

and the wall street journal has its place, i frequently read it, when i can, (the nearest outlet being about 200 km away, and a day late) (wish they could arrive at the same online understanding as the nyt and drop the subscription bit, but i am sure they would choke even thinking about that).... the weekend journal is pretty weak in the asian version, and the deification of american business heroes is a bit sad at times, but like fox news you can understand the viewpoint and learn something from it...

i agree with you about the uselessness of confrontation tv, and the celebrity fixation is another bug of mine... i have a t-shirt idea, "in a dumbed-down country, the majority will always be wrong"....

my favorite read is the financial times, especially the weekend edition.... the writers are intelligent, those they write about are also, and they assume that the reader is too! how nice, and how rare....

Steve Salerno said...

Yes, the Financial Times is quite good. I was a subscriber for a while. Also The Economist.

And yeah, I'm always amazed at the hype for staged TV interviews (like Barbara Walters), as if some politico who's been carefully groomed, handled and "woodshedded" by media-savvy consultants is going to give viewers a Perry Mason moment by suddenly breaking down in front of Barbara and admitting something we didn't already know: "OK, OK, yes, I can't stand the guilt anymore, I did it, I embezzled millions! And I also killed my first wife! And there's even a half-dozen bodies back in Iowa City that nobody even knows anything about....!"

Cal said...

BTW, Mark Cuban recently had a similar comment on his blog where he says the media (meaning TV, newspapers, magazines) basically tries to find someone in their most vulnerable moment and take a picture or video so they can embarrass you. Then they make a story out of it. I always wondered: who monitors the media? I guess there are web Sites that do this now, but most of them seem like they are just doing a tit-for-tat...i.e., taking one thing a person says (like O'Reilly) and making the person seem racist or sexist, etc.

Steve Salerno said...

Cal, trouble is, the entire media dialogue, to the extent one even exists, has tended to be painted in terms of two things: 1, political bias, and 2, "infotainment" (or the many frilly and silly aspects, like celebrity coverage, that crept into journalism once news outfits became profit centers in their own right and had to justify their bottom lines). There are far deeper problems with the media, in my view, and I'm going to cover them in a forthcoming piece for Michael Shermer.

Incidentally, the problems that you (and Cuban, and others) cite are so institutionalized in modern media practice that they even figure in the awarding of journalism's highest honor: the Pulitizer Prize.

The watchdog sites, regrettably, tend to have agendas of their own.

gregory said...

for shermer on shermer's site? will look for it, i really want to see what you say ...

Steve Salerno said...

First, there's a typo in my previous comment--obviously it should be "Pulitzer," not what I wrote. Normally I just delete and correct, but in this case it would've disrupted the comment flow.

Second, I'm doing the piece for the print magazine, whose content I'd imagine would be available on the Web as well. But I'm not sure how Michael handles that.

Steve Salerno said...

It now looks as if Joe Girardi will indeed become the new Yankee skipper; they're hammering out the deal points as we speak.

This means that--being on the periphery of New York, and having a son who's a rabid Yankee fan--I'm going to be exposed to Girardi's motivational tour-de-farce all summer long next year. Oh goodie...

gregory said...

and so, why not mattingly? not a leader? no sports hype?

Steve Salerno said...

Gregory, you never cease to surprise me--how you can toggle from your characteristic flights of metaphysical fancy to the nitty-gritty of the dugout (a place, frankly, I'd never expect to find you. Which is my own fault, for stereotyping, no doubt). But anyway, I think the problem with Mattingly is that he's perceived as an extension of Torre--a continuation of that regime. Also, he seems awfully low-key, and I think the Steinbrenners want someone with more of a fiery mien, or at least the potential for same. Of course, were that really the case, they'd go with Larry Bowa.

gregory said...

bowa is going back to seattle i think... nice article on steve nash in the nyt.... which has a title i naturally like ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/28/sports/playmagazine/28nash.html?_r=1&ei=5090&en=ba065e371462f6f2&ex=1351051200&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

no conflict between mysticism and the real world at all, they turn out to be the same thing...

thanks for the convo, go back to work... me too

gregory said...

forgot my html... to make the steve nash link clickable...

Not to Get Too Mystical About It