Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why I'm Pro E:60

Of all the things Me and Pedro disagrees about internally, it looks like nothing was more immediately divisive that ESPN's "outing" of Miguel Tejada as a 33-year-old. Blogging partner Be Gold described the interview as a (my words) pointless ambush, whereas I applauded.

Well, the fallout from the story is beginning, as ESPN has published a piece about what Tejada's false birth certificate means for him, mostly in the context of steroids investigations. ESPN has to walk a fine line when it comes to celebrating sports and covering them, and often it does a horrible job of letting fans know where fun begins and news ends. My blogging partner wasn't the only one who didn't like the Tejada interview; my roommate saw it and was nonplussed by it. And I understand this reaction to a point, even if it wasn't mine: "ESPN has gone out of its way to be fun and hip and non-confrontational, and now this?" is what I imagine was going through people's heads. Again, not mine: I know good journalism when I see it, and this was it. ESPN had Tejada cold, and they sat him down, presumably by invitation, and asked him about it. He didn't answer. What's the big deal?

I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but I think we've got the wrong idea about what is and is not important in baseball because of the steroids scandal. We don't mind seeing Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens attacked, because they're jerks, but the others aren't worth dealing with. So when we see Miguel Tejada get attacked by an institution that caters to MLB so relentlessly like ESPN, we get confused. At its core, ESPN should be about covering sports as news, and whatever you think of Miguel Tejada, the fact that he — or someone — doctored his birth certificate so that he could earn millions of millions of extra dollars seems like sports news to me. If the New York Times broke this story, we'd applaud them for it, only that happens behind closed doors. It's the old sausage factory saw here: you might like journalism, but you might not like how it's done. This is how it's done. Good job, ESPN.

16 comments:

Ben said...

Well, I was making fun of the advertisement that stated dramatically, “A trip to the Dominican Republic uncovers Miguel Tejada’s secret and shadowy past."

That's funny.

But I suppose my larger point is that outing Latin players for lying about there age is so 2002. If I'm going to watch "serious journalism" I need more than that. Much more.

I'm not confused, just bored.

Bryan said...

I disagree. If we find out five years from now that Phil Hughes or Jay Bruce is taking steroids, will that not be a big deal?

Louis said...

I wish Phil Hughes would take steroids, but I have selfish reasons for that.

Ben said...

You disagree that I am bored? Please, continue.

Ryan said...

Uncovering the story was good journalism. Turning it into a Dateline-style surprise confrontation had nothing to do with journalism.

Bryan said...

They're a TV network, not a newspaper. How would you like them to do it? They brought him in and asked him about it on-camera. Isn't that was a TV network is supposed to do?

Ryan said...

How would I like them to do it? How about like a normal newscast, which is how most news is reported on ESPN. Just a guy sitting behind a desk reporting the story. They could've questioned Tejada off-camera and given his response if he had any.

There was no need to go Dateline on Tejada.

Bryan said...

Most news on CBS is reported on the CBS Evening News. Other news is reported on 60 Minutes.

I don't know what your problem with ESPN going "all Dateline" on Tejada is. Is it that it's uncomfortable to watch? Because I didn't find it uncomfortable to watch. Here's a guy who lied — knowingly — about his age, and you don't like the fact that ESPN presented evidence of his lies to him on camera?

Especially in light of the fact that he immediately admitted it (off camera), I find that silly.

Ryan said...

I guess my basic question is what was gained by doing the surprise confrontation on camera? Was it done to satisfy viewers who wanted to catch that no good Miguel Tejada in the act?

At least Dateline is humiliating child molesters, who most of us don't feel much sympathy for. But, even if you wouldn't have done the same thing, Miguel Tejada lying about his age so that he could get signed by a US team and put some food on his family's table seems understandable, doesn't it? I think it's ESPN's job to uncover the story, but I don't see the need to attempt to embarass Tejada in the process.

Bryan said...

I'm not comparing Miguel Tejada to a child molester, but there are few people with less anecdotal credibility in Major League Baseball than Miguel Tejada.

coachie ballgames said...

I'm with ryan on this one. The sit-down confrontation is str8 "A Current Affair."
When "60 Minutes" pulls stunts like these it's usually for a far bigger story, moreover, they will usually pull out a bombshell question in an interview with someone who usually knows they are under-fire. In 2008 is it really a story that players from other countries have doctored their age? And, like ryan said, if it truly is a story, report what you've found, ask Tejada for a comment and report his response. Otherwise you may as well have Jim Rome do these surprise sit-downs and yell "Chris! Chris!"

Bryan said...

Here is my point:

If it's between ESPN doing things like this, or not doing them at all, I'll take the former.

Ben said...

Ah, this is really very tidy, because now we've circled back to my initial point: If it's between ESPN doing things like this with E:60, or using their journalistic resources to report on things that interest me in a manner differnt from the Channel 7 Problem Solvers, I'll take the latter.

I don't think any of us are "Anti-E:60," as the title of your post seems to presume.

Bryan said...

Maybe it was "Like 60 Minutes, Only Terrible."

I'll also admit: I haven't watched E:60, nor do I plan to. I think ESPN's real problem is relying on a trick like that to try and get viewers, whereas I already know how the story ends, so I'm not going to watch. I don't have a problem with the trick is all.

Bryan said...

Yes, I just admitted I haven't watched the show, what of it? Hmmm... carry on.

Ryan said...

I haven't watched the show, either.