08.21.06

Kornheiser : Not Merely Sensitive, But A Bully, Too

Posted in Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 11:48 am by

Tony Kornheiser’s (over)reaction to criticism of his “Monday Night Football” debut last week has already been noted in this space. The New York Times’ David Carr, while failing to acknowledge that one of Kornheiser’s foes suggested the skin cancer victim “get a tan”, provides sobering claims that not only does the “PTI” host/Washington Post columnist have a history of not being able to take what he dishes out, he’s not above getting someone fired.

Sometimes when Mr. Kornheiser is feeling wounded, he does more than wave his arms around. When Stephen Rodrick, writing in Slate, pointed out that Mr. Kornheiser, who is the busy co-host of ESPN™s œPardon the Interruption, had not quoted an actual person in months in his columns, Mr. Kornheiser, according to Washingtonian magazine, suggested that Slate, now owned by The Washington Post Company, should cut ties with Mr. Rodrick.

When I was the editor of Washington City Paper, the weekly alternative paper had ” and still has ” a sports column by Dave McKenna, who also had a $75-a-week gig covering horse racing for The Washington Post. In 1998, he made a glancing reference to Mr. Kornheiser in his City Paper column. Mr. McKenna subsequently encountered Mr. Kornheiser at the holiday party for the Post™s sports department.

œHe jumped up from his table, and said, ˜We got to talk,™  Mr. McKenna recounted. œI thought he was joking because I had always thought he was this funny guy on the radio. But he took me in the hallway and said, ˜You will never work for a real newspaper™ and then he opens his jacket and pulls out a copy of the column that had all this magic marker on it and writing in the margins.

œMy jaw just dropped, Mr. McKenna continued. œHis face turned orange while he was yelling at me and I thought, ˜Wait till my friends hear about this.™ This really famous funny guy seemed like he was going crazy.

But Mr. Kornheiser was serious. The next time Mr. McKenna wrote about Mr. Kornheiser was in 2000, upon the retirement of local sports talker Ken Beatrice, an event that was covered with a great deal of hagiography in The Washington Post. But Mr. McKenna noted that back in 1981, Mr. Kornheiser, then a reporter, had written a savage takedown of Mr. Beatrice, causing him a considerable amount of personal pain.

Mr. McKenna was summoned to the office of George Solomon, then the assistant managing editor for sports, and told he was through working for The Post. œHe was very nice about it, but said he had a department to run, Mr. McKenna said.

One Response to “Kornheiser : Not Merely Sensitive, But A Bully, Too”

  1. Don says:

    While I could discuss Washington City Paper machinations at great length, and Mr. Carr is no angel BUT the City Paper/Washington Post Stringer job consistently and without fail gets someone fired from the Post. It’s not a matter of “Wow, can you believe this happened?” but instead I ask the people (and there are many DCHC veterans) straddling both fences, “When will it happen to you?”

    At least Dave McKenna didn’t blame it all on Ian Mackaye’s father.

    Yes, I am alluding to a real incident.

    No one is worse at what he does than Tony Kornheiser. He has been entirely coarse and unpleasant every time I was around him in the 1990s, usually at minor book or radio events. His failed attempt at a human interest column was legendary and a significant factor in my cancellation of all newspaper subscriptions several years ago.

    If there’s one running theme of CSTB, it’s “how do these sports broadcasters stay in business?” So indeed, like the band that hires too many permanent roadies after album #2, there is only success when someone is hungry and striving and after one is successful, there is only a working retirement.

    One can take comfort in the fact that they make very very little money in news.

    Don

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