There was another TWWL-related event this week which grabbed my attention. ESPN Radio host, Kornheiser replacement, and overall massive douchebag Colin Cowherd unleashed an immature, idiotic, and mean-spirited attack on The Big Lead, a sports news site. Cowherd told his listeners to access the site on his command, overloading the servers and crashing the site, just for the hell of it. Obviously, we don't take kindly to them people 'round these parts (and Cowherd has a history of this kind of activity, if you remember this episode from last year). I'd get into the specifics of what happened next, but it's been well documented at Deadspin, mGoBlog, KSK, EDSBS, and just about everywhere else. In fact, he is now known throughout the eBays as "Schrutebag."
Now, this raises a couple of questions:
- Was this action a crime or, at least, a civil cause of action? Already discussed in detail at mGoBlog, with the consensus being no crime or tort
- This guy has an audience? His show blows. It's awful. But, apparently, there are plenty of people who want to listen to angry, unfunny, idiotic douchebaggery at the end of the morning. I assume these are the same people who buy Mudvayne records.
- What would TWWL do to the Schrutebag? Early money was on "nothing at all," especially considering the fact that he's hosting the newest ESPN Classic turd (You know, the show that claims Ty Cobb and Tiger Woods are linked because, if he were alive, Ty Cobb would hate Tiger Woods? Yeah, that show is his.)
Some of the politer terms my correspondents used to describe Cowherd's behavior were "immature, irresponsible, arrogant, malicious, destructive and dumb." I agree.
The official response from ESPN's communication department was: "Our airwaves should not be used for this purpose. We apologize." It is the kind of bland public statement that does little to assuage the anger and distrust of ESPN's audience over an episode like this. I could not tell from that statement how seriously ESPN regarded the offense, so I contacted Traug Keller, senior vice president, ESPN Radio, to get a clearer idea of ESPN's reaction.
Keller responded immediately to my request for an on-the-record statement. "We talked to Colin Cowherd, and we talked to all our radio talent, making it clear that you cannot do this," Keller said Friday. "Our airwaves are a trust, and not to be used to hurt anyone's business. Such attacks are off limits. Zero tolerance. I can't say it any stronger."
Keller said that he had not formulated a policy about such attacks on Internet sites until now because he had never imagined the possibility of them.
Is it a perfect response? Not exactly. Nobody's ponying up for the ad revenue lost at The Big Lead for the two days while their site was down. And in a week where Don Imus is being asked to resign over remarks which were clearly inappropriate but not causing a loss of income to anyone, the fact that Schrutebag still has a job, without any repercussions, is a travesty. But at least someone saw through ESPN's original (and typically worthless) response, and got TWWL to make a formal apology and state publicly that it will never happen again. I can't say how long Ms. Schreiber's newfound ballsiness is going to last in the face of the multinational corporate juggernaut she is supposed to patrol, but I've got to admit she's off to a good start.
UPDATE: You can sign a petition to have the Schrutebag fired. Of course, nobody will ever read it, but if it makes you happy, it can't be that bad...