Tag Archives: CNN

A new sports trend I just don’t understand. Jon Stewart eviscerates CNN, rightly. And HBO’s “Glickman” is fabulous

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OK, I need someone to explain this to me. For real, I just cannot understand this.

I’m reading this story in the New York Times about the Jacksonville Jaguars, and other NFL teams, and their new approach to make the “in-stadium” experience better for their fans, because we all know that, for a variety of reasons, football is the one sport that’s much better on TV than in person (no one blocking your view, it’s not freezing, you can check scores and watch other games since they all happen on Sundays, etc.)

And what the Jaguars have done is create an in-stadium lounge for their fans, complete with TVs, computers, food and drink, the whole works.
So that way, instead of paying for your ticket and watching the game happening right there in front of you, you can buy your ticket, go to this lounge, and watch everything BUT the game you paid to see.

I don’t understand this at all, not from either perspective. If you’re a fan, why are you spending $50 or whatever the ticket costs, to go to a stadium and sit in a room and watch other games while eating or drinking? We already have that people, they’re called “sports bars.” So why not just watch the game you paid to see?
And from the team’s perspective, shouldn’t you try to put a good product on the field that makes people want to see YOUR team, not others? You’re encouraging people with these lounges to not watch your own team, but watch others and wish you rooted for them!

I’m serious. Please explain this to me if you can.

**Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” have been on fire since he got back from his three-month hiatus from the show.

And sadly, he’s not lacking for material when it comes to criticizing cable news. In the wake of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, CNN was once again abominably bad and irresponsible in its journalism. Watch Stewart pick them apart in the first 10 minutes of this; it’s hilarious but also sadly accurate.

**Finally, I’m a couple weeks late on this, but I just got around to seeing the new HBO documentary “Glickman,” on the life of legendary sportscaster and former Olympian Marty Glickman, and it’s superb.
If you’ve never heard of Glickman, he lived a remarkable life. Born and raised in New York, he was a standout track athlete who qualified for the 1936 Olympics in Munich, and was a teammate of the great Jesse Owens.

Glickman was scheduled to run as part of the U.S. 4×100 relay team, but in an unconscionable decision, the U.S. coaches removed him and another fellow Jewish runner, Sam Stoller, so as not to anger Adolf Hitler.

Despite this incredible mistreatment, Glickman went on to become maybe the most influential sportscaster of his era, which spanned about 50 years. He invented many of the common basketball terms we hear today (like “in the paint,” and “swish.”), and was a major force in popularizing pro football as well.

The documentary, airing all month on HBO, shows what a terrific individual Glickman was, always helping out young sportscasters (he mentored Marv Albert and Bob Costas, among many others), giving high school athletes recognition on TV, and amazingly, seeming to let go of the bitterness of that Olympics travesty.

There’s a scene toward the end of “Glickman” when he goes back, 50 years later, to the stadium in Germany where he was to have run, and the pure power of that moment is startling.

It’s a great, great film devoted to a man who sadly isn’t as well known outside New York as he should be. Check it out if you can, it’s definitely worth the time.

James Gandolfini, gone too soon. CNN, sinking lower and lower. And Donnie Baseball, back in the Bronx

What an incredible hockey game Wednesday night. 6-5, Blackhawks over Bruins in OT, in a game with more twists and turns than Space Mountain. The last 2 nights of sports is why we watch. So good…

“The Sopranos” was a television show that was like an epic movie in a lot of ways; every week there was so much drama and plot twists and brilliant acting that you were sometimes exhausted on Sunday nights, from all the concentration required and subtext searching.

At the center of it all was a heavyset character actor who was pretty unknown to most of the world before 2000. But James Gandolfini quickly became a huge star, and man, could he act.
Tony Soprano commanded every single scene he was in. You couldn’t take your eyes off him, particularly when he sat smoldering at some perceived (or real) slight.

Gandolfini was good in other roles, too; he was a brilliant villian in a small role in “True Romance,” and I really liked him in an HBO movie a few years ago.

But just like Carroll O’Connor will always be Archie Bunker and Sherman Helmsley will always be George Jefferson, Gandolfini will always be Tony, philandering husband of Carmela, and father to screwed-up kids Meadow and A.J. You rooted for him against your will, because you knew he wasn’t someone worth emulating. But still, you ended up rooting for him/.

The news Wednesday that Gandolfini had died at 51 just seemed so wrong. From all accounts his death came out of nowhere; he wasn’t sick or anything.
Rest in peace, James.

For a terrific piece about Gandolfini, check out TV critic Alan Sepinwall’s wonderful tribute here.

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**I really don’t like making fun of CNN so often, since I used to really love the channel.
But when they do stuff like this (above), how can I NOT make fun of them?
Somewhere, Bernard Shaw is violently shaking in anger.

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**Had a very fun Wednesday afternoon; went to Yankee Stadium with my father-in-law to see, for the first time in 32 years, Yankees-Dodgers in the Bronx.
And oh yeah, my childhood hero was managing the visiting team in the other dugout.
It was beyond strange for me seeing Donald Arthur Mattingly of Evansville, Ind. wearing the iconic blue and white of the Dodgers. I know he’s been manager there for three years and hasn’t played for the Yankees since 1995, but to be in Yankee Stadium and see my idol on the other side… just really surreal.

Happily, everything worked out well. Donnie Baseball got a big ovation from  the crowd when he came out with the lineup card before the game, and the Yanks did the right thing by showing a video tribute to Mattingly’s career during the game.

After both, Mattingly tipped his cap and waved to the fans.
It’s hard for Yankees fans under 25 to appreciate this, but for Bombers fans like me who grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s, Mattingly was all we had. The team was horrendous, and there was little hope for the future.

But we had sweet-swinging No. 23, and he was a reason to watch.
So glad to see him back at the Stadium. I’d rather see him managing the Yankeees, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

ESPN may finally be getting a rival, thank heavens. Some joy, at last, in Newtown. And CNN, sinking to new lows

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As a kid, I thought ESPN was the greatest thing invented since Hot Wheels.
A 24-hour all-sports cable channel devoted to showing games and highlights? What could possibly be better than that?
And at first, that’s all ESPN was. But it grew and grew and grew and now resembles something like the monster Audrey from “Little Shop of Horrors,” devouring everything it sees.
ESPN does its best to ruin sports now, not promote them. With their inane babbling idiots on in the afternoons, their constant over-obsession with people like Tim Tebow, Tiger Woods or LeBron James, and their reduction of every game to only the best dunks or touchdowns, ESPN has become a bloated mess that most of us sports fans endure because they have the rights to so many big games, not because we enjoy the network.

So in what may actually be a Michael Lewis first, I’m rooting for Rupert Murdoch in his new venture.The gazillionaire media titan is announcing Tuesday that he is going to start a rival to ESPN, calling it Fox Sports 1. Eventually, one hopes, Fox Sports 1 will bid for rights to MLB, college basketball , NBA and NFL games, and maybe even have a nightly highlights show that focuses on, you know, highlights and not the hairspray sportscasters’ latest stupid catchphrases.

Competition is desperately needed for the Goliath that is ESPN. I don’t like most of what Rupert Murdoch stands for, but he’s about the only guy with enough money to truly rival ESPN.
I hope he succeeds.

**So this was actually on CNN the other day. CNN, the network that broke new ground in cable news, that covered the first Gulf War in 1991 live as it happened, that gave us Bernie Shaw and Judy Woodruff and all kinds of great broadcasting talent.

Sigh.

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**Finally, it’s been awfully long and painful winter for the citizens of Newtown, Connecticut.
But Monday night there was actually some good news to report, as a devastated community tries to move on after the December massacre of children.

The Newtown High School boys basketball team, seeded 29th in the Connecticut state playoffs, upset No. 4 seed Crosby, 61-58 on Monday night.

It’d be too much to ask for the boys from Newtown to channel their inner Hickory High, wouldn’t it?
But at least for one night, there was some joy in a town that desperately needs it.
I hope it brought a smile to your face, as it did mine.

The son of Rae Carruth, being raised by an angel. A few thoughts on the late great Steve Sabol. And Soledad O’Brien fights lies on CNN

Been a while since I’ve linked to a real tear-jerker that doubles as a fantastic piece of writing, but this story is well worth your time.
Remember Rae Carruth? He was the NFL football player who, when his girlfriend Cherica Adams refused to have an abortion in 1999, hired a hitman to beat her up and kill her.
Well, the hitman didn’t quite do his job well enough, because Cherica survived the shooting long enough for little Chancellor Lee Adams to be born.
Carruth and his accomplices are in prison, rotting as they should be. And as you might expect, life has not been easy for Chancellor, now 13. Thanks to the shooting, he was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy.

But Chancellor has an angel for a grandmother, and Sports Illustrated’s Thomas Lake has written a beautiful tale of a boy being raised by a woman whose own daughter was taken from her far too young.

I don’t know if Saundra Evans is a saint or an angel, but her love and spirit have made one boy’s life so much better. Lake’s writing is fabulous; he paints such vivid word pictures that take your breath away.
Readthe story here, and grab the tissues.

There are a few, not many, but a few, cable television anchors who actually do their jobs as journalists. That is, they actually ask follow-up questions and challenge their guests on the bull-spit they constantly spew, and don’t let them get away with just, well, lying on the air.
Soledad O’Brien of CNN is one of those rare birds who actually stops these runaway bloviators in their tracks when they’re just making stuff up. I loved this clip of her calling out GOP Rep. Peter King the other day when he continued to insist Barack Obama is always “apologizing” for America.

**Finally, a few words on the late, great Steve Sabol, the genius behind NFL Films, who died Tuesday of a brain tumor. Millions of football fans like me grew up watching the incredible NFL Films highlights through the years; there was just nothing like their combination of rousing music, slow-motion highlights, and best of all, miked-up players (see above).

Before any other major sport did, the NFL presented their product as if it were a movie, as if it were art. And I was completely hooked. Between John Facenda’s deep voice (“the Green Bay Packers and the immortal Bart Starr”) and the behind-the-scenes access, NFL Films, led by Sabol, revolutionized how we watched sports.

From all accounts, Steve Sabol was a great man, and he will be deeply missed. Peter King of SI has a beautiful tribute here.

“Sesame Street” becomes a pawn for U.S., Palestinians. A lovely story about Mountain Dew and rats. And CNN sinks to new lows

The fight over land between Israel and the Palestinians has so many tentacles, and goes so deep, that it’s no wonder that it’s been going for thousands of years.
And despite fits and starts of progress in the peace process, it seems like the battles and killings may go on for the next thousand years, too.

It’s the little things that show just how silly and petty this dispute can be sometimes. Take this story, which doesn’t technically involve Israel, but the U.S. on Israel’s behalf. For the past 15 years, there has been a Palestinian version of “Sesame Street” that has educated youngsters in much the same way American kids learn through Sesame Street:  fairness, counting, cooperation, all that good stuff.
The show, called “Shara’s Simsim” has been wildly popular and was slated to continue this year.
Except it can’t. That’s because the U.S., as punishment to Palestinians for attempting to petition the United Nations for statehood, has stripped $200 million of aid, including funding for educational programming.

So now because the U.S. is pissed at Palestinians applying for statehood, millions of children won’t learn from a TV show about kindness, generosity and cooperation. Really America, it’s not

Little thing like that just depresses me. Because it’s with the children that seeds of hatred and intolerance are first sown.

**Here’s a fun story for you soda drinkers. An Illinois man sued the makers of Mountain Dew saying he found a dead mouse inside a can he was drinking.

In the lawsuit, though, PepsiCo came up with an ingenious defense of their product: They said that a rodent would have disintegrated and been transformed into a “jelly-like” substance between the time the soda was bottled and when the Illinois man would’ve drank it.

So the defense is basically: Our soda is SO toxic, there’s no way a mouse could’ve survived as a mouse in there! He had to have dissolved by now!

Enjoy that next sip of Dew, boys and girls.

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**I’ve defended CNN to people for a long time in the face of criticism. Sure, the all-news network ain’t what it used to be, which was the most valuable news source in America. Sure, they’ve made some terrible decisions about on-air talent, and Wolf Blitzer hasn’t said anything of substance since 1999. But I still have a soft spot in my news-loving heart for the pioneer of the all-news format on cable.

But then I see something like this, and I just get really sad. Jon Stewart nails it again:

The beautiful hypocrisy of Lou Dobbs. And a guy who really, really likes to dance

Sometimes, you can see these stories coming a mile away.
Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs spent the last several years of his career there blasting away at illegal immigration in this country. He staged rallies, he screamed and yelled, and he basically was an intolerable ass.

Eventually he left CNN, and I waited for the other shoe to drop. And this week, as sure as the guy screaming the loudest against gays will turn out to be a homosexual himself, Lou Dobbs was “outed.”
In an article in the magazine The Nation this week, a reporter discovered that good ole’ Mr. Dobbs has, for years, employed undocumented laborers at his multi-million dollar estate in New Jersey.
Of course Lou vehemently denies any knowledge of this, says he never knowingly hired illegal immigrants, yada, yada, yada.
It’s the same when all of these loudmouths get caught; never admit blame, never show contrition, just deny, obfuscate, and continue to lie.
Ah, Lou. Of course you’re the victim of a smear campaign here. You’re a righteous, patriotic fellow who just wants to kick out people who don’t belong.

**Sometimes I just get a kick out of a drunk guy dancing and having a good time. Watch how much fun this guy without the shirt on has during the Black Eyed Peas number here:

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Lies and the lying liars who tell them

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So one of the great and terrible things about being a reporter is that people lie to you. Constantly. Whether it’s a crooked politician, a football coach, or a criminal, you are told lies, lies and more lies.

Many of them are unverifiable. When a coach tells me a kid has a sprained ankle suffered in a practice I wasn’t at, of course I believe him. Even if I have a pretty good idea that the kid really got caught with weed in his locker. I don’t know that on the record, and I”m pretty sure the coach is just making an excuse, I still have to believe him.

So it’s not the unverifiable lies that bother me. It’s the stupid, easily debunked lies that really make me crazy. And make me question why that person would do it.

I’m telling you this because it happened again the other day. I’ve been calling this agent for a prominent athlete in our area for weeks, trying to find out where said player will be playing this season.

Guy hardly ever gets back to me, so the last few weeks have been no exception. When he does talk to me, he’s been a good source of info, and I feel like we have a decent relationship.

Anyway, he finally calls back Monday. Tells me that our player signed with an NBA team last week. When I remark that that’s why I’ve been calling him for a while, and it would’ve been great to have known that, you know, last week, he dismissively tells me that “it was on my Twitter feed weeks ago.”

For a minute, I thought, well, maybe I should’ve been checking his Twitter feed. After all, I’m a 21st century reporter. So just for the hell of it, I go on the guy’s Twitter. And what do you know, no mention whatsoever of our player. Not in passing, not in any news sense, nothing.

So why? Why did the agent lie? Did he not think I could easily check his Twitter feed and see that our guy was not on there? He could’ve told me any of a hundred things. He could’ve said he’s sorry he didn’t call back. He could’ve said that it’s not his job to tell me stuff, and I should’ve found out on my own. He could’ve said he’s been on Mars for the last three months without access to a phone.

But he didn’t. He lied flat-out, a lie that was easily disproved.

And I just wonder why people do it. I’m a bad liar, I know this, so I try to lie as little as possible (except to spare people’s feelings about the cuteness of their baby. Lying about that, I believe, is in the Constitution.)

I’m just fascinated by people who lie, knowing they could easily be trapped in it.

I’m open to any theories you, dear reader, might have on the subject.

**OK, so let me get this straight. Jessica Simpson’s dog got stolen by a coyote. That’s not the plot of a movie, that really happened?

I guess I should feel bad for her, but then I remember that she thinks Buffalo wings are from killing buffaloes, and I remember that her moron father once told Rolling Stone that, since Jessica’s album came out right around 9/11, “When those planes crashed into those buildings, it nearly demolished our career.”

And so yeah, not a lot of sympathy for her.

**It saddens me greatly that the most popular story on CNN.com earlier today was about Heidi and Spencer’s sex life.  I wish I didn’t know who they were, but sadly, I do.

***Speaking of celebrities, The Onion hits another one clear out of the park. Hilarious.

**Another fantastic episode of “Glee” Wednesday night. And another great 80s song (and a 70s classic, too) featured. As a lover of 80s music, I’m freakin’ thrilled to see it featured so much on such a good show. And mark my words, my friends, “Glee” will do for 80s music what “Mork and Mindy” did for space aliens.