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Colin Cowherd Changes His Mind on Taylor

Look, some have suggested that it's better to simply ignore ESPN's Colin Cowherd and not egg him on by responding to his bombast, which might be true. Some have also suggested that attempting to tit-for-tat the guy does nothing but debase the tatter, or the titter, or whatever, which might also be true. And when I heard Cowherd discussing Sean Taylor on the radio today--getting in arguments with callers about whether admitting he was wrong about Taylor but refusing to apologize was a fitting final gesture--and I was forced to instead listen to Diane Rehm while pledging not to blog about it.

But c'mon, tell me you could read this segment summary...

From the beginning of the Sean Taylor story, Colin consulted his African-American friends so he wouldn't form his opinions based on his thoughts alone. Colin admits he was wrong but doesn't think he needs to apologize to anybody. He formed an opinion -- one based on a lot of research -- and he was wrong. He doesn't mind admitting he's wrong

...and not want to respond, just one more time, just so there's some sort of historical record of his words, not on a podcast, but on a screen, to stare at. Before I start, let me quote from Thomas Boswell, who wrote the most thoughtful lines I've read about this topic in the past two weeks:

At times, journalism bleeds into sociology-on-deadline. That tricky habit of mind can become most destructive in the aftermath of a controversial celebrity death. The desire to generalize, especially with good intentions, is powerful. The problem is that the person who is dead is one unique individual, not the illustration of a theory about society. Until the facts are absolutely certain, it's reasonable to mention all the possibilities in the case but err on the side of respecting the dead.

That's a pretty good definition of "reasonable." And then let's review the worst of Cowherd from last week, where, judging from his podcasts, he devoted at least seven segments to Taylor speculation:

Sean Taylor, great player, has a history of really really bad judgment, really REALLY bad judgment. Cops, assault, spitting, DUI. I'm supposed to believe his judgment got significantly better in two years, from horrible to fantastic? 'But Colin he cleaned up his act.' Well yeah, just because you clean the rug doesn't mean you get everything out. Sometimes you've got stains, stuff so deep it never ever leaves....They were after a guy, not stuff....I think you have to be naïve to think it's random.

That is, perhaps, a different definition of "reasonable." So here are two options for how to respond when you finally return to this topic the following week.

1) "I'm sorry."

2) A buffet including the following gems:

* "I would say I'm probably the single most aggressive sports talk radio host in America today. Some of you like it some of you hate it. I'm incredibly polarizing, that's good that's bad that's a gift it's a burden, it's both. I create trouble for the network and I create great revenue, but it's my style, and I told em that coming in. I would never, ever back down from stories like this. I'll go right at race. I'll go right at death. And I will be polarizing, and I will give you my opinions. It's what I'm paid to do. I'm a daily opiner."

* "I'm Bill O'Reilly, for better or worse. I'm Rush. I'm a daily opiner. I don't have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for stories to develop. The day Sean Taylor died we held off on it, respect to his family. The day of his funeral we held off on it. but the e-mails overwhelmingly suggested you wanted opinions, and so I tried to create the most reasonable opinions."

* "To this day on Sean Taylor I think my opinion's reasonable, given his history. I think it's wrong. And I think what bothered most people, and I totally get this, is the way in which I presented the story. Brusque, arrogant, smug, I get it. I try to give you a rollercoaster of emotions every day. There are days I'm funny and days I'm mean, there's days I'm poignant there's days I'm not, there's days I'm maddening, there's days, I've cried on the air. I laugh constantly on the air. Sometimes I don't like me."

* " I'm often wrong, I'm never perfect, I am completely flawed. And that's part of the show. Every day. I'm just giving it all to you. Was I probably a little insensitive? I haven't listened the tape in full. Quite possibly. Quite possibly. Um, I'm never the judge or jury on any story. I give you my opinion. I often say, I'm not telling you how to think, I'm telling you how I think. But I do to this day, I never thought we were insulting the Sean Taylor family, never said he deserved it, didn't say they were bad people, but I think it's reasonable, like Mike and the Mad Dog, Jason Whitlock, Stephen a. smith, Michael Wilbon, others in the media, I was along in that group, I think it's reasonable in any walk of life, to look at somebody's past, and I do think it can link to their current life."

* "When I interviewed here I told ESPN, 'I'm not for everybody.' Even inside this company, I'll make y'all a lot of money, but I cause a lot of headaches here. I'm a pain in the rump for a lot of people. I also make my local affiliates gobs of money. You go to a local radio station with our show on, you see those Mercedes from the sales guys? Well, they're driving those because of us. We've done really good. On the West Coast, it's unbelievable what we've done for this network. But we're flawed and we give them headaches and sometimes they even call ESPN and say, Would you tell Cowherd to shut up.' We're a lot of different stuff, sometimes right, often wrong, here humbled. It's part of it. It's part of us."

* "But we are always opinionated and always aggressive and we think, on Sean Taylor, absolutely reasonable, though clearly at this point to some degree, wrong. And I've got no problems saying it. Well, I do have a problem saying it, I hate being wrong. Who likes being wrong? I don't like being wrong. Trust me, on those college football Saturdays, you don't think I'm pulling for my teams to win so I can thump my chest on Monday? Of course I do. Um, but, um, so there you go."

I'll give you two guesses whether Cowherd chose option 1 or option 2.

[Yes, that's right, while admitting he was wrong in his speculation about the root causes of a man's death, Cowherd compared it to being wrong about his weekly college football picks. That's awesome.]

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 5, 2007; 4:54 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Colin Cowherd is an idiot. Fun to listen to sometimes, but an idiot.

Posted by: Cowherd | December 5, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

From which blogs did he steal those quotes? Don't listen; don't plan to. I still can't believe the suits in Bristol had never-ending problems with Kornheiser but have never suspended this idiot for plagiarism or other crimes against journalistic humanity.

Posted by: DevilGrad | December 5, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

he is an idiot, man. full of crap and hisself. ask him to go **** himself

Posted by: hh | December 5, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Agent Steinz...way to spearhead this whole thing, your coverage of that idiot has been clear, well articulated and true. Thank you.

Posted by: Ben | December 5, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

In radio it seems you often must be a gas-bag idiot in order to get a show (yeah, locally I'm talkin' 'bout you, Czab). At least the bloggers are "reasonable." Thanks, Agt. Steinz. You are the new voice of the D.C. peeps.

Posted by: Arlington Pimp | December 5, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I hope ESPN is proud of themselves for having this jackanape on their airwaves.

Posted by: Jamie Mottram | December 5, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Back when I still listened to 980, Ol' Colin was spouting off about how the NY Post was the "best newspaper in the world." So there's his standard setter, as far as journalistic integrity goes.

5 more minutes of that asshat and I couldn't turn the dial to the Junkies quick enough.

Posted by: d, dc | December 5, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I still suggest that you just ignore him, Dan. Giving him any press just validates his troglodyte fandom, his idiotic plagiarism and his refusal to act like, you know, a mature human being.

Admitting that he's like O'Reilly or Limbaugh should make any and all of his fans retch. And he says it like it's a badge of honor. Please, Dan. Just give us more Oily and Agent Zero coverage.

Posted by: R.J. | December 5, 2007 6:21 PM | Report abuse

The Big Lead should eliminate this dude so we can all go back to wondering what Ralph Friedgen thinks about this week's Local Hoops poll.

Posted by: | December 5, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Cowherd is trying hard to be Jim Rome, and falling miserably short. Cowherd is the penultimate in douchiness.

Posted by: Bassett | December 5, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I heard Cowherd's comments last week and then his reversal today. The man is incredibly naive to think that he shouldn't be held to a journalistic standard while he presents the day's news. Everyone should listen to the Junkies instead...Balllin.....

Posted by: Jim Jones is Ballllin | December 5, 2007 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Cowherd is not in Jim Rome's class. That said, he's also not the least bit controversial. You can't be controversial at ESPn- you have to tow the party line...which is overwhelmingly liberal.

Posted by: danindc | December 5, 2007 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Quit giving 'herd more time. It's schtick, and this post (and the time it reflects has been put in behind it) rewards the schtick. Save your time for something important and walk away.

Posted by: worstSeat | December 5, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't waste my time or anger on Coward.

Posted by: sitruc | December 5, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

ho-ly crap-o-rama

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | December 5, 2007 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks again for your reporting. Always metered and balanced, always informative.

Posted by: spectre | December 6, 2007 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Cowherd is definitely the "tit" in a tit for tat argument.

Posted by: Kev | December 6, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Colin Cowherd is a radio 'personality' not a journalist. Keep that in perspective...what he says shouldn't carry any more weight than Roy, the town barber. (Who's probably more informed, by the way).

All that being said, it's amazing how arrogant he is. He takes himself WAY too seriously and place WAY too much importance on his show. The world will have forgotten him and his show a week after it's cancelled. And it will be cancelled. It's only a matter of time before he pulls a Don Imus...

Posted by: Chan Gailey's Agent | December 6, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm not defending Cowherd, but I'm sure EVERYBODY's mind has changed about Sean Taylor after more details were released. I ask you oh great "bogger", what would you expect, Mr. Steinberg? That Cowherd sticks to his guns?

Michael Wilbon even did a bit of a backtrack during his chat session on 12/3/07, so why not call him out too?

Everybody had their initial reactions and theories, but most of us had those quickly reexamined upon the most recent news on the case. Mr. Steinberg, if it's a specific beef you have with Cowherd, fine, just say so.

I can't stand Cowherd myself, but he was not the only person who was wrong on this. Also, there are more important people to focus on in this tragedy than Colin friggin Cowherd.

Posted by: CN | December 6, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

So Cowherd was wrong in his speculation as to the origins of Taylor's death. So what? He made the same assumption that a thousand other people made. That doesn't make him a bad person. Don't like his show? Don't listen. All this holier-than-thou whining is sickening. Steinberg must have had a slow sports day to keep rehashing old news. Let it go.

Cowherd doesn't owe anyone an apology for guessing. Get over it. Move on.

Posted by: Seadawg | December 6, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

So out of all of Cowherd's comments, I'm getting this picture, simply put that he will make any remark about anyone at any given time to earn a couple bucks and he justifies this by the growing wealth of his affiliate managers. So in this Taylor was all a big dollar sign to this guy.

If I ever meet up with Cowherd, I'm not seeing dollar signs I'm seeing a punching bag !!!!

Posted by: MC | December 6, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I know I'm going off-topic, but I am having a a growing problem with personalities "reporting" instead of journalists. We've seen this trend in newspapers for decades, but those articles were normally pretty well identified as opinion pieces or something along those lines instead of just reporting the facts. More recently, the national news networks have also blurred the lines between reporting facts and personalities stating opinions. ESPN and sports radio has had personalities to report and entertain for years. More recently more of these personalities have attempted to become more polarizing to gain more attention and the money that comes with the greater attention. It has worked on the news networks and now it is something being pushed by ESPN. It has become even more evident this college football season. ESPN is the leader in sports news. Many take their word. Look at the polls and rankings this season. How much of that was decided by ESPN personalities. The same Gameday people that are told by producers to pick different teams so there can be arguments are the same people that tell the country who should be ranked, where they should be ranked and who should go to what bowl. How many times did we hear that a team that wasn't a conference champion couldn't be in the National Championship game? It's hard to believe that didn't influence voters in a season where the computers didn't really matter. I don't know how many times I've seen Mark May on ESPN telling people that Time Tebow is the one who will win the Heisman as if he has already counted the ballots. That isn't reporting, but who is there to complain or even notice? The only way things can change is if people stop watching or listening and well... I'm missing Sage Steele on Cold Pizza er FirstTake right now so I gotta go.

Posted by: sitruc | December 6, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

1. Who is Colin Cowherd?

2. Polarizing is like the word of the year!

Back to my cave.

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | December 6, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I listen to Cowherd almost every single day. I think his show is great and I also think he is one of the best I have ever heard on radio.

That being said, He really got this story wrong. I never expected him to apologize for it. That is just the way he is, for better or for worse.

Posted by: Dominic | December 6, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Dominic, best ever on radio? Next to who?

Posted by: Mac G | December 6, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Colin is incredibly entertaining. He's playing a character on the radio, which is what they hired him to be. The fact that so many people have an opinion on him gives credence to his claim that the ratings have increased dramatically since he took over that time slot.

Rome and his "Clones" have done this for years. Rome has always been an antogonist, remember the Chris Everett incident?

Colin never claimed to be a journalist or an investigative reporter. He just gives his thoughts based on the same information we all get.

It turns out he was wrong about Taylor, but you can't admit for one second, that with the initial information reported, that it didn't reek of a hit or of a current or former enemy trying to seek revenge for something.

Posted by: JP | December 6, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Come on, this guy, who tries to come off as some sort of radio "bad ass", then hides his comments behind african americans so he won't incite anyone with racism, is a pansy. What he did was in the worst taste imaginable. Sean Taylor was not even buried yet and he was in full on attack mode. But in a racially sensitive way. I loved how he blatantly hid behind black journalists, so that he could attack a dead man. Then, he bragged about he was on a streak of 7 for 8 in these types of incidents???? I believe the best way to handle this is simple....ban his show in DC. Since he is all about the money, start showing the airbags at ESPN that he isn't making them money, he is costing them money. If he was half the man as he claims to be, he would publicly apologize to Sean Taylor's family for the things he said about him. Also, if I am Sean Taylor's family, I am suing the crap out of him for defamation of character or something along those lines. Especially since most of what he was accusing Sean Taylor of was totally false.

Posted by: Steve | December 9, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

This may be stating the obvious, but if you'd like to see the Cowherd show dumped in the Washington, D.C., area, go to:

and make your voice heard.

Posted by: michaelm | December 10, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

ESPN's Ombudsman blasts Cowherd's behavior:

Posted by: duder | December 10, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I heard the show, he never "changed his mind". He admitted being wrong and refused to apologize for being wrong. Why is it so offensive to have an opinion these days? What about Sean Taylor's friend who had the same opinion? I don't remember him apologizing.

Posted by: Teemart | December 13, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's the adult thing to do and not apologize for his comments. He was wrong about the incident, way wrong. S.T. was at home sleep with his family. There are 3 places that are supposed to be safe: Church, school, and one's home. S.T. was murdered in his home and for material items. If he (Colin)has children,
hopefully is teaching them to apologize when they're wrong...if so shouldn't he?

Posted by: Curtis | December 13, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Given the initial information we were given at the time (that Taylor was shot it the leg), what would have made anybody think that it was some kind of "hit"? Knowing that he got shot in the leg and essentially bled out, it's obvious that the person who did it didn't intend for Taylor to die. If someone really wanted him dead, they would have found him, and probably shot him either in the head or the chest to make sure he was dead. Also, it would be stupid for this same gunman to go to Taylor's house because a.)It would be reasonable to assume Taylor can afford quite a security system and b.) Taylor would have a great chance to defend himself (and we know that he ran to get his machete). If someone really wanted Taylor dead, as Cowherd seemed to have indicated, then it would not have happened at his house. Criminals generally come to your house to steal something, not kill you.
Of course, it's easy to say that given that we know a lot more of the facts now, but that was my line of thinking when the story first broke. Of course, Cowherd was somewhat correct given that this botched robbery wasn't "random", but the death was random. And it's unfortunate, even for a personality, to even formulate opinions as to why such a grave tragedy happened before all the facts are gathered. A question about opinion is whether you like ice cream or not; whether you like this tpye of music or the other; it's not about what you think may have happened. To do that, requires judgment, that is, actually GATHERING FACTS. And journalism these days is getting too far away from judgment, and far too focused on opinion. And unfortuntely, in a day and age where we crave instant gratification, opinion seems to suit us more than judgment.

Posted by: Jimbob | December 16, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Coward is human garbage. He's radio at its worst.

He is also a racist.

Posted by: Big Dog | December 27, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

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