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.