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Posted at 3:44 PM ET, 02/15/2011

Haber, Hellie, Feldman on the Redskins

By Dan Steinberg

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."

By Dan Steinberg  | February 15, 2011; 3:44 PM ET
Categories:  Media, Redskins  
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Comments

Good for Haber. But I also feel like he is being SO outspoken to generate more interest in his show. 9 has to run behind 4 and 5 right?

Hellie dodged there, I dont blame him but that wasnt a real answer

Posted by: jpfterps | February 15, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Until the average Joe starts standing up to Snyder and his arrogant attitude, it'll continue.

Snyder rules out of fear. When people stop letting him scare them, his power will diminish.

Posted by: SavedByZero | February 15, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Brett Haber is my new hero.

Posted by: johnb5 | February 15, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Hellie has definitely been watching Rip Torn's character from "Dodgeball."

"dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!"

If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge questions about Dan Snyder and the Redskins.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | February 15, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

But where was LaVar?

Posted by: Dennis703 | February 15, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't care about the ratings, and whether Brett Haber is doing this for ratings or not doesn't matter to me. What matters is that he is standing up for what he believes.

Snyder is a bully, Haber doesn't like his bullying and thank goodness someone will stand up to him. It's long overdue.

Posted by: GeorgeTowner2 | February 15, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm an NBC-4 watcher, and I like Dan Hellie and I REALLY like Lindsay Czarniak. BUT... it irks me that they do cheerlead the Redskins a bit much... maybe not so much in how they report, but in ALWAYS leading with the Redskins, even in the summer. They're a bit compromised by their stations relationship with the Redskins.
Brett Haber just gained respect points in my view with his comments.
But overall, to ALL the sports producers in this town... the Redskins fan base is OVER-HYPED! How about more coverage and more HEADLINING of the Nationals!?!?!?!? Their ownership is much nicer, they're building the franchise smartly, and they don't piss people off! As for TV sports coverage... I come from Pittsburgh, and as great as the Steelers are, and as piss poor as the Pirates have been for 18 years, local TV in Pittsburgh STILL LEADS with Baseball during the summer!!! I'd wish that Washington sports folks would at least do that for us. Maybe it would bring Dan Snyder down a peg or two if they stopped leading with his 'Skins every *@#&ing day in July and August!!!!

Posted by: jeffhert | February 15, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Enough already! You people just continue to pile on! Leave it alone, nothing new to see here.

Read this.. could not have expressed it better.. or tried:

http://www.examiner.com/sports-in-washington-dc/redskins-owner-dan-snyder-made-mistakes-but-media-fans-should-stop-piling-on

Posted by: iubiquity | February 15, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget this quote from Adolf Hitler when talking about colonizing Russia: "There's only one duty: to Germanize this country by the immigration of Germans and to look upon the natives as Redskins." (Hitler: a study in tyranny, by Allan Bullock, pg. 385)

Posted by: jmarks09 | February 15, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

So freedom of speech and the first amendment be damned because poor Danny is being piled on, eh iubiquity. Wow, just wow iubiquity. The worst defense of this repulsive little man I've seen. It'll stop when Snyder and his lackeys drop the ridiculous lawsuit and starts running the team in a fairly sane manner. But hey, it's only been twelve years and he's finally learned his lesson just in time for season ticket renewal season.

Posted by: Leofwine | February 15, 2011 11:01 PM | Report abuse

ok, I get it.. he's Satan, Stalin, Der Fuhrer.. depraved, debased scum, the filthiest scourge ever to contaminate our planet! I get that.

I'd just like to see enlightening or at least informative content when I come on, not a firing squad execution of an easy target...dead man walking. He's already been hanged, beheaded and burned at the stake, so what's the point?

Why keep firing? It is not gonna change anything; Let it be whatever it is and move along. Let's face it, you are still gonna root for the team, regardless. Who knows, maybe he can atone.

Damage is done. I'm not sure what you want from him now. The death squad may make you fell better, but in reality ain't helping nothing. In fact it borders on sadistic.

If we win a few Bowls some will love him, some will still hate him... but so be it. That's life!

Let's move along, nothing to see here.

Posted by: iubiquity | February 16, 2011 1:13 AM | Report abuse

I keep forgetting who Brett Haber is.

Posted by: mike8 | February 16, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight: Snyder has got thin skin because he overreacted to a snarky comment about his wife, and got falsely accused of forgery (A felony crime), and so he threatened a multi-zillion dollar New York hedge fund that if they did not call him on the phone to figure out a way to retract and apologize, he would sue them? Wow, thank God Brett Haber is here to protect the first amendment. Maybe Brett and his bottom-rated t sportscast were more interested in grabbing headlines and pitting it to Synder for making them (as Haber said) wait in line behind the other sports stations for Redskins news?
Where is the sense of journalistic outrage at a tabloid publishing false accusations that Synder was "caught" forging documents" and was "tossed off" the company board of a company, without even a phone call to verify whether thre was any factual basis for those charges? Aside from circling the wagons, the media has done little here but prove what hypocrites they are. Enough with the sanctimony

Posted by: sportyd | February 16, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight: Snyder has got thin skin because he overreacted to a snarky comment about his wife, and got falsely accused of forgery (A felony crime), and so he threatened a multi-zillion dollar New York hedge fund that if they did not call him on the phone to figure out a way to retract and apologize, he would sue them? Wow, thank God Brett Haber is here to protect the first amendment. Maybe Brett and his bottom-rated t sportscast were more interested in grabbing headlines and pitting it to Synder for making them (as Haber said) wait in line behind the other sports stations for Redskins news?
Where is the sense of journalistic outrage at a tabloid publishing false accusations that Synder was "caught" forging documents" and was "tossed off" the company board of a company, without even a phone call to verify whether thre was any factual basis for those charges? Aside from circling the wagons, the media has done little here but prove what hypocrites they are. Enough with the sanctimony

Posted by: sportyd | February 16, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Hellie says the same dam thing everytime - WRC is in snyder's pocket and it's so obvious!!!!!

Posted by: PTLRMD | February 16, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Hellie says the same dam thing everytime - WRC is in snyder's pocket and it's so obvious!!!!!

Posted by: PTLRMD | February 16, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Hellie says the same dam thing everytime - WRC is in snyder's pocket and it's so obvious!!!!!

Posted by: PTLRMD | February 16, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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