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D.C. Sports Media Approval Ratings: George Michael

(NBC Universal image)

The true George Michael Era in D.C. likely pre-dated my arrival by a few years, so I'll turn to some experts, as previously quoted in The Post here and here.

Norman Chad: "He's the only guy in town who can show you five minutes of tape in a four-minute sportscast."

Steve Levy: "For me, 'The Sports Machine' really was 'SportsCenter' before 'SportsCenter.' "

Susan O'Malley: "He figured out how to use the bloopers and the Tuesday replays and everything 'SportsCenter' does. Maybe he was even the first MTV because he put stuff to music before anyone else did."

Changing the laws of physics, scooping SportsCenter and preempting MTV. Not bad. Michael joined WRC in 1980 and revved up the Sports Machine in 1984. The Machine shut down last spring, although Michael remains an active media member, continuing to host weekend panel shows on the network and putting money in the pockets of sportswriters more famous than I. He also conducted last year's sit-down interview with Daniel Snyder. You can still read his WRC bio, which includes these nuggets:

His hard-hitting interviews, compelling features and eye-catching highlights have made him Washington's favorite sportscaster in the hearts and minds of viewers....Michael's recognition extends beyond the small screen. He has appeared in Jonathan Demme's "Silence of the Lambs" and Ron Shelton's "Tin Cup." Michael's EMMY-award winning feature on world champion bull rider Lane Frost, killed in a tragic bull riding accident, spawned the major motion picture "8 Seconds" starring Luke Perry and Stephen Baldwin. Michael served as a contributing consultant and appeared as himself in the movie.

He's from St. Louis, went to SLU, previously worked at WABC and as a radio DJ and a New York Islanders commenter, and loves things like wrestling, rodeo and bullfighting.

Bearing in mind that you have just two options, here's your chance to judge George Michael. Choose carefully, and offer explanation below.

Previously, in order of approval: Steve Buckhantz, Charlie Slowes, Chick Hernandez, The Junkies, Mike Wise, Tony Kornheiser, Steve Czaban, Dave Feldman, Brett Haber, John Riggins, Andy Pollin, Larry Michael.

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 23, 2008; 12:38 PM ET
Categories:  Media  
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Kiss azz who pre-dates kiss azz Larry MICHEAL (hey, they're probably related).

Posted by: D. Johns | June 23, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

There should be two votes on George Michael. Before he sold his soul to The Devil, I mean The Danny, and post selling his soul.

He was great for a long time, but my lasting memory of Michael is his lopping softballs to Snyder in the interview last year.

Posted by: CRitch | June 23, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

This guy is an embarrassment.

Posted by: Eric | June 23, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

When it comes to D.C. sports anchors, there was Glenn Brenner and then everybody else.

Posted by: WFY | June 23, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I am shocked, SHOCKED! that people would disapprove of George Michael. Shilling for the Redskins is a retirement gig for the man that practically invented D.C. Sports Television.

Would there be a PTI without Michael?

Posted by: | June 23, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Approve, but have to point out when he used to do the play by play for the Redskins preseason games, he was horrible.

Posted by: The Mayor | June 23, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

George Michael allowed Snyder to rip the media in front of him without Michael once challenging him.

Michael allowed Snyder to rip the media, allowed Snyder to say that his media outlet gives information unfiltered, and that the other media outlets in town have " 26-year old reporter that really doesn't know necessarily what's really going on". If Michaels created DC Sports Media televion, he should be standing up for the integrity of the DC media that he helped create. He did not, he sold his soul instead.

Michael Jordan coming back to the Wizards as a "retirement gig" is still part of his overall career. As is George Michael's time as the lap dog.

And wow, what a glorious world it would be without PTI. Didn't realize I should blame George Michaels for that.

Posted by: CRitch | June 23, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Michael: "So, listen, your uncle G.O.B. seems to think that he saw you down at the docks today. Was that you?"

George Michael: "No, no. Maybe it was the other George Michael. You know, the singer-songwriter?"

Michael: "Yeah, that makes sense."

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | June 23, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse


Upon his 'retirment' I sent an email to Len Shapiro about the subject (Shapiro had just written an article on George Micheal). Though, a well known homer and often campy, we both agreed that George Michael was at the pantheon of local sports in the late '80s through his 'retirment' and would continue to influence regional sports.

Regardless of his Redskins fawnings, George Michael brought the best to NBC News 4, as well as Redskins Report and the Sports Machine. Tuesday Replays, Wednesday Wrestling, c'mon, he was Crocket to Jim Vance's Tubbs.

Side Note: When people bring up the name George Michael, I never say..."Oh, you mean the gay guy from Wham."

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | June 23, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Also, I approve of George Michael as DC's finest sports entertainment huckster. A legend for all the right reasons.

The "selling out" doesn't even bother me that much. I remember (and this could be wrong) that he voluntarily quit the fulltime gig when he was asked to downsize his staff as a cost-cutting move.

So because, at least based on that apocryphal story, I believe he demonstrated the integrity and loyalty stuff at a critical moment when it mattered, and I give him a pass on being a relentless homer/cheerleader/apologist and so forth. I never saw him as a "serious journalist" anyway. More of a really prominent and enthusiastic DC sports booster. One man's (probably misinformed) opinion.

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | June 23, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I like him on Redskins Report and Full Court Press, his gig doing the sports on Channel 4 went from annoying to flat out horrendous. I guess I'll give him a lukewarm thumbs up.

Posted by: DirtyHarry | June 23, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I did a little happy dance the night he said goodbye on Channel 4.

Posted by: Chico | June 23, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Like many, George didn't know when to call it quits, and that will forever haunt him. While the Machine may have been the pre-cursor to Sportscenter, by the end of his run he was unable to get through his 3 minutes without at least 3 factual or pronunciation errors. And it goes without saying that he had zero credibility on anything related to the Redskins. Good riddance.

Posted by: Chief | June 23, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I've always been a fan of George Michael, the guy is an institution in this town. But my fondness increased exponentially after his interview with Dan Snyder last year.

Snyder was right to criticize the Post (not by name) and Jason La Canfora (also not by name) for their often irresponsible and sometimes unethical reporting. And I was grateful George Michael let Snyder put in his 2 cents without having the typical knee-jerk media reaction.

One thing will never change: most members of the media love to criticize others, but when they themselves are put under the microscope, they go ballistic. Case in point was the predictable reactions from certain members of the Post after Snyder said his piece.

Posted by: OG Barno (not to be confused with New Barno) | June 23, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

A pioneer, who stayed WAY too long at the fair.

To the Redskins and the Danny, obsequious to a fault. A BIG fault. George "let" the Danny get in his two cents? Oh, that's rich . . . not DANNY rich, but still pretty rich.

Barno: If we ever had an ethics duel between JLC and the Danny, I think the Danny comes up WAY short. Perhaps the happy crowd of ass-kissers at ES would agree with you . . .

Posted by: TMU | June 23, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

You cannot disapprove of the man who put Wednesday Wrestling on the nightly news every week...and I don't even like wrestling. Approve.

Posted by: Chimpanzee Rage | June 23, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I've always liked George Michael, but its mostly b/c of the Sports Machine, which I prefer to Sport Center b/c (1) it was free and (2) it was faster.

The guy I really miss (other the Glenn Brenner) is Frank Herzog. I will not miss the guy -- who needs no introduction -- that The Owner inserted after firing Frank Herzog.

Posted by: dcsween | June 23, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that Snyder interview George did last year was a horrible suck-up job, but George has always been a suck up for any local team/owner, etc. That was part of his shtick, like it or not.

But George Michael's legacy is a lot more rich and complicated than one bad interview. I love how in 2004 George stopped showing nightly Orioles highlights on his 11 p.m. sportscast, as a way to say, "Hey, Washington needs a team, and the Orioles aren't it." And when the Nats did come to town, his was still the only sportscast that didn't show O's highlights immediately after the Nats--only showing them if there was some newsworthy reason to show them. Did this help bring baseball back to D.C.? Probably not, but it was a nice show of solidarity. (I imagine Orioles fans didn't like it, but so what?)

The fact is, after Glenn Brenner died, George Michael was (and will probably be the last) local TV news sports guy that really mattered in Washington. And he's still the host of the only two local sports talk shows on a DC network TV affiliate. Approve

Posted by: Fingerman | June 23, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

About as overrated as it comes. Period.

Posted by: Wham! | June 23, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that George is as important to the history of sports broadcasting in AMERICA as everybody -- the Sports Machine was a revolutionary product.

But it's also true that the last five years of his career were a caricature.

Posted by: TMU | June 23, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

GM's "Plays of the Year" on the Sports Machine got his approval from me. The Star Wars theme; the bloopers; the incredible catches; the unreal scores; the pets; and the joy and innocence from the kids. +1

Posted by: greg | June 23, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Glenn Brenner, Glenn Brenner, Glenn Brenner

Posted by: Bill Fitzgerald | June 24, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

I don't have access to enough computers upon which I could possibly vote "NO, no, dear god, No."

Posted by: FS | June 24, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Wow, such negativity. I don't think you people in DC realize how good you have/had it. I was in DC from 94-01 and George and Jim Nance and that crew were the best. Having lived in DC, Kansas City, Seattle, Montana and now Salt Lake City, trust me when I say good local news people are few and far between. I actually think the New York news people are the worst. I didn't get to see Glenn Brenner, but George Michael was one of the best.

Posted by: kchoya | June 24, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Disapprove. If he's really the dean of DC sportscasters, why did he never--ever--break a big story? He's the essence of a TV personality, not a sports journalist. And that's the main reason I vote no.

Posted by: UMD's Burning Couch | June 24, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I think it's been a refreshing change NOT having George on the air during the week. Yes, I miss seeing him joke around with Jim Vance but let's face it, all of our local TV stations just want to push news and weather and don't care about sports. I think George made the right move in stepping away from NBC, since management wasn't going to support him or his staff.

However, I read both Len Shapiro articles...the original in 2007 and last month about George's one year anniversary from leaving NBC and both tell a different story. I can't believe Len Shapiro actually believed George's tearful goodbye based on the fact all of his staff was fired...when in reality, George told NBC that if he was being fired, he's taking everyone down with him and NBC wouldn't have anyone to produce sports. Well, that was kind of true but Len failed to mention the various contractions. Furthermore, his second article now talked about George's disliking toward management...a year after his new contract was agreed upon. Now, we're starting to find out the real truth behind George's departure. Finally, how is it George fired his staff but he{George} ended-up with with another on-air contract from NBC.

I just wish people would set aside their ego's and be honest with the public.

Posted by: Caroline-Springfield, VA | June 29, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

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