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 naÃ¯ve 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.]
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