Haber, Hellie, Feldman on the Redskins
One of the things that made Brett Haber's scathing commentary on Daniel Snyder's lawsuit so noteworthy was that D.C.'s network sports anchors have historically given the Redskins a pretty wide berth. And so many of the local networks have had financial arrangements with the team, that it sometimes seems as if certain topics are off-limits.
Which is why I was anxious for Haber's commentary to come up during a sports-media round-table discussion Mike Wise hosted Tuesday afternoon, with NBC 4's Dan Hellie and Fox 5's Dave Feldman. The four guys talked about a bunch of D.C. sports topics, but in one of the early segments, they did indeed tackle the issue of the Redskins, the lawsuit and potential conflicts of interest.
"I was more offended by kind of the flouting for the First Amendment; that he was trying to bully the City Paper by basically saying you guys are poor, I'm rich, you don't have enough money to fight against me so back down and do what I tell you to do," Haber said. "And as a journalist, that pisses me off. And I think that for whatever reason, as a town, in media, we fail to stand up to this guy.
"It struck me as repugnant. I don't care what he thinks of me. I went to my bosses to discuss whether or not this was a good idea, and they turned around and said to me, 'Well, how much worse can they treat us? I mean, we're already fifth or sixth in line for everything that they dole out? What, are we gonna be seventh?'
"The way I thought about it is my constituency is not the Redskins. I don't work for them, I don't work for him and I don't particularly care what they think of me. Would it be nice to have a cordial and genial relationship with the people that work there? Yeah, and I think for the most part we do....That said, I'm not here to make them happy, and I think that's a little bit where as a media complex in this town, sometimes we're intimidated by them. We've been afraid of them in the past....
I wonder if we, when we had the deal [with the Skins], would have had the onions to do what we did the other day? I hope that we would have. My bosses were very supportive in this situation, but let's be honest, commerce is a part of what the media does, and I think it's a little naïve - without accusing anyone directly - to think that commerce isn't interconnected to all this stuff."
Haber said a lot right there. Next came Feldman, whose network does a Redskins pre-game show, although Feldman said Fox 5 doesn't have an actual deal with the team.
"If we do something they don't like, sometimes I hear about it," Feldman said. "But no one's ever told me what I can or cannot say, and we've been very critical. My bosses have sort of encouraged me. When Haynesworth first got into his trouble of not going to practice, I did a commentary like Brett, and they encouraged it, and encouraged me to be very critical....
"The one thing I would say is that Dan, when he did his interviews out there at the Super Bowll and he kept saying 'Tony Wyllie, this was Tony Wyllie's idea,' and Tony told me it was his idea, and Tony told Brett it was his idea....My thing is you can be in a PGA tournament and a caddy can say hit the 5-iron, right, but it's the golfer who's got to decide what club to hit. So he did not make that decision because Tony Wyllie said it. He made it because he wanted to make it. So I don't care how much you say it was Tony Wyllie's decision; it was Dan Snyder's decision."
Then Haber took another turn.
"How about him...throwing his wife out in front of this thing and claiming that one of the reasons he's so offended is that Dave McKenna quote-unquote "made fun of his wife" in that article, and she's a breast cancer survivor and she does all this good work. And all that's true; she is fantastic and does do a lot of good work on behalf of breast-cancer awareness.
But read the article. You could not possibly, under any circumstances, construe what was said in the article with being offensive to his wife. But he was clearly saying that because if anybody's listening to those interviews Snyder's doing, they're going 'Huh, what, you mean McKenna made fun of his wife? Well, you can't make fun of a guy's wife. Obviously the guy's a jerk, we must favor Snyder.' So he's going out there and putting that forward, and it's total crap."
Then Wise turned to Hellie. NBC 4 is, in many ways, tied to the Redskins, from their weekly shows to their preseason broadcasts. Wise -- who participates in many shows on Comcast SportsNet, which has similar deals with the Redskins -- said that a high-ranking CSN official told him he could say whatever he wanted to about Snyder, as long as he didn't "make it personal," whatever that means. So then Wise asked Hellie about the suggestion that Lindsay Czarniak wearing branded Redskins clothes during preseason broadcasts reflects poorly on the station.
"Ok, here's the thing," Hellie said. "If you watch on DirecTV and you watch preseason games, there are plenty of reputable journalists who during the preseason, broadcast preseason games and wear the team's logo on a blazer or on a golf shirt, ok? That doesn't preclude us from saying anything. I have never received, Lindsay has never received one cent from the Redskins as payment for our work for our network. Ever. And you're on shows with us all the time, and we're critical....We will get in spirited 60-to-90 second debates in the middle of a sportscast about Dan Snyder. It happens all the time. I don't think we ever hold anything back, Lindsay or myself, whether it's Dan Snyder or the Redskins or Tony Wyllie or anything else."
| February 15, 2011; 3:44 PM ET
Categories: Media, Redskins
Save & Share: Previous: Post Sports Live: Georgetown vs. U-Conn.,
the inconsistent Caps and the Daytona 500
Next: Dexter Manley tries to do the Dougie
Posted by: jpfterps | February 15, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: SavedByZero | February 15, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: johnb5 | February 15, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | February 15, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dennis703 | February 15, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: GeorgeTowner2 | February 15, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jeffhert | February 15, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: iubiquity | February 15, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jmarks09 | February 15, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Leofwine | February 15, 2011 11:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: iubiquity | February 16, 2011 1:13 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mike8 | February 16, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sportyd | February 16, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sportyd | February 16, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: PTLRMD | February 16, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PTLRMD | February 16, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PTLRMD | February 16, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse