Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't Double-Cross the Double-J!

Take a look at this picture. That monster of a building is Cowboys Stadium. I've stood before it, albeit only from the outside. It's intimidating. And it cost $1.3 billion (give or take a few hundred mil) to build.

My question to you is this: would you mess with the guy who had it built? The guy who, as has been explained to stadium tourists, has his own private pod high above the field, so he can watch the game with his brain-trust without being seen by TV cameras? A guy who could, y'know, probably buy and sell you and everyone you've ever met?

That's exactly what an anonymous person recently did, in the form of a cell phone at a bar. And in doing so, that brave(/drunken?) American opened up several cans of ethically-questionable worms.

Let's set the scene: our unnamed friend is hanging at a bar when, lo and behold, Jerry Jones pops up in front of him. He just spent a long, grueling day counting his money, and wants to kick back with an adult beverage or three. More power to 'em. This is America! You should be able to kick back, have a drink, and do an embarrassing karaoke version of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" (What, you've never done that? Well... neither have I. And you can't prove otherwise).

But if you're the Double-J, the rules of engagement are different, like it or not. So our friend whips out the video phone and catches Jerry talking a little smack on some easy targets in the football world: former 'Boys coach Bill "The Tuna" Parcells, and Heisman winning quarterback/Focus on the Family spokesman Tim Tebow. The Tebow stuff was mostly fluff, but the Parcells bit had Jones basically admitting that he used the Tuna to barter for a new stadium. And as the above photo demonstrates, that worked, and then some.

Big deal, right? Right! The last time I checked, this is 2010. Something called the internet (which you're reading right now!) rules the information world. And, like it or not, websites exist to disseminate stuff exactly like Jerry's drunken spiel. So our cell phone toting friend tries to sell the video, only to find that it ain't that impressive. So, dude gives it to, a sports blog notorious for edgy/offensive sports coverage (sample headline: "Target Field's Urinal Problem"). And even now, you can go to Deadspin and watch Jerry Jones say Coach Tuna helped get his team a new stadium, and isn't worth a s---, and that Tebow would never get on the field for Dallas, and yada yada yada. But it's what happens next that makes this whole sordid tale really interesting.

We've established that Mr. Jones has enormous clout, especially in the Dallas/Ft. Worth region. Virtually everyone knows him, and could pick him out of a crowd. Suffice to say, dude's pretty powerful. Now, put yourself in the position of the big, bad DFW news stations. You've got this video. It's out there. Everyone with a computer can watch it. Do you run it on TV? It's a tough question. You have to consider how powerful Jones is. Would running the video hack him off so much that he would have his organization cut your station off? What if you're KTVT, the "Official Station of the Dallas Cowboys"? Not such an easy decision, is it? Of the four major stations in the area, two ran it, two (including KTVT) did not.

One of th stations that ran it, WFAA, has a legendary, tenured, fairly old-fashioned, and extremely outspoken sportscaster. That man is Dale Hansen. And he did NOT like that his station ran the video. So, after some wrangling with station brass, he took to the airwaves and TRASHED his station's management, and the site that posted the video in the first place (which, by the way, is a separate blog in and of itself... Mr. Hansen used the tired line about bloggers being Cheeto-eating nerds in their moms' basements, failing to mention that Deadspin is owned by Gawker Media, just like WFAA is owned by Belo, a company whose aim is to make money. But hey, don't let that get in the way of trashing those low-life bloggers!)

All this got the newsroom (read: me) thinking: would a similar situation play out like this in Abilene? If we got, say, a city councilperson, superintendent, or business owner drunk, then taped them saying outrageous things about their own institution, would we use it? Should we? Would you want to David Robinett get on Bigcountryhomepage Sports and rant about our decision to run it? Would you watch, especially if we said on KRBC News at 6, "Stay tuned, because coming up at 10, our sports guy is gonna tear this station's management a new one" (which, by the way, is more or less what WFAA did).

What would I do? Honestly, I don't know. We don't get many submissions from viewers who record city leaders while they're drunk and giddy-- much less billionaires who own the most valuable sports franchise in the United States. Gulp.

1 comment:

  1. I think just as an important question. How come none of the stations in Abilene have an opinion segment like many stations do ? I would like to see one of our local news directors or station GM's take an opinion on something.