Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The War on the Register, Part 1

It's on.

We've made it to Northwestern week, and (even more so than Syracuse, Illinois, or Indiana) this one is in the bank. Tate's back, not that he needs to be. Jake Christiansen showed us enough against NIU. While it's nice to have Tate back, the Hawks would likely get by Northwestern regardless.

So let's move to the most recent object of my scorn: The Des Moines Register. "Iowa's newspaper" was once the most pro-Hawkeye news source in the state. If you're ever at Tweeter's in Okoboji, look at the DMR posters, where the Sunday sports page, "The Big Peach," proclaimed Iowa win after Iowa win to the masses. Those, my friends, were the days.

The Register is no longer a Hawkeye mouthpiece. In fact, it's no longer pro-Iowa in any way, shape, or form. It's the most anti-Hawkeye, pro-Cyclone rag on the planet. The DMR has apparently made the decision to alienate fans of the state's largest university and most prestigious sports program, opting instead to publish a paper for people who can't read.

So, this week, I will chronicle the ridiculous, the biased, and the completely idiotic coverage of Iowa sports being published by the so-called newspaper of the state.

Target One: Nancy Clark

And oh, what a target she is. Nancy Clark has been writing for the DMR since shortly after freezing Han Solo in carbonite...

OK, maybe not. Ms. Clark has been a "sports" columnist at the Register for 15 years. She toiled in relative obscurity, writing mind-numbingly boring Iowa travel columns in the summer and puff pieces about gymnasts from Coe in the winter. But, before the start of last football season, Jabba the Clark suddenly became infamous due to one single column. In her preview of...her football preview, Nancy Clark took a shot at, of all people, football bloggers:

Today I'll be talking with Dan McCarney. The bloggers won't. I'll also be posing questions during Iowa State's media day to Bret Meyer, Todd Blythe and Jason Scales. The bloggers won't. Monday, I'll be chatting with Kirk Ferentz. The bloggers won't. I'll also get in a word at Iowa's media day with Drew Tate.
The bloggers won't. Tuesday, I'll interview Mark Farley at Northern Iowa's media day. The bloggers won't...
.Know that if the information is coming from the mainstream media - the accredited reporters, broadcasters and photojournalists - they are following strict professional guidelines that the looser outlets don't require. The information has been verified, has been scrutinized by editors, has been fact-checked and proofed.

Needless to say, some people didn't appreciate this much (just Google "Nancy Clark Des Moines Register" and see what comes up). Of course, the comment about the strict professional guidelines is absurd (see Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Dan Rather, 75% of the breaking stories on ESPN.com, and Erin Jordan...of the Des Moines Register). But, even more than the apparently moronic statements was her rationale, or lack thereof. The king of college football blogs, Every Day Should Be Saturday, actually called Nancy Clark for an explanation and printed the interview. When she was asked why she thought it was necessary to take bloggers to task, she replied that it was mostly due to the problems experienced by Jenny Lillis (which was unfortunate) and Stevie A's Celebrity Hot Tub Party (which did not happen). Of course, both of those were due to message boards, and Jabba refused to differentiate between the two. Clark, in fact, declined to name one blog which she has ever read.

"I hate bloggers!"

Cultural and technological illiteracy notwithstanding, Ms. Clark's attitude towards blogs is not why she is the current object of my scorn. It's the fact that she had taken it upon herself to shoot down the Hawkeyes at every turn while repeatedly treating Lames like Notre Effing Dame. Not content with pissing off web nerds, she has taken dead aim at Iowa fans in general this season:
  • Her September 13 column did everything but predict an Iowa State victory at Kinnick, thinly veiling her belief that Iowa is soft
  • On September 24, she lambasted the Hawks, saying "the only thing perfect about Iowa is their record"
  • On October 25, she felt Iowa fans needed a "reality check" in reaction to the Drew Tate thumb injury (forgetting that all of "the sky is falling" talk was coming not because of Tate's injury, but the three losses in four games)
In the meantime, she has used her substantial, erm, leverage to prop up the McCarney and the Clones at every turn:
  • In her August 15 column, she said ISU was completely capable of winning all seven of their home games this season (including Nebraska, Texas Tech, and Mizzou)
  • The aforementioned September 13 made Todd Blythe look coherent, and we all know better than that
  • On October 1, she actually wrote that the Lames win over UNI (a 1-AA team, mind you), "saved McCarney's coaching career" (standards are that high in Lames now, huh?)
  • My personal favorite: On October 15, in the wake of a 34-9 loss to Boomer Sooner, Jabba actually claimed that Iowa State could win their last five games, including wins against Tech and Misery and at Kansas State. Who is the deranged, myopic fan now, Nancy?
  • Only on October 22 did Nancy begin to come to terms with reality: "With Latest Loss, ISU's Season Tipping Downward"
I don't ask for objectivity from columnists. If the DMR wants to hire a Lames homer to write a column, so be it. Just come out and say it. Don't guise it as some sort of objective look at sports in Iowa. Don't attempt to veil the insults you throw at 60% of the college football fans in the state. And, for the love of God, don't even think of writing a column taking bloggers to task because we're supposed to trust you as a source of actual, fact-based, unbiased sports reporting. You look stupid when you do.

On a completely unrelated topic, ESPNU announcer Brian Kinchen, who called his own discussion of catching a football "kinda gay" during the Iowa-NIU broadcast this weekend, has been suspended by The Worldwide Leader. The video is no longer on YouTube (damn you, Google), but it was one of the greatest moments in the history of sports television. A completely inappropriate comment, followed by a SOLID fifteen seconds of awkward silence. Unfortunately, Mr. Kinchen appears headed for the same commentator scrapheap as the Miami announcer who wanted to get involved in the UM-FIU fight.

UPDATE: The "kinda gay" video can be seen here. Thanks to KB.


Kevin said...

Here you go.


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