11.19.09

Ohlmeyer : ESPN’s A Victim Of It’s Own Celebrity

Posted in Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 12:59 pm by

Former NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer is really coming into his own as ESPN’s new ombudsman, particularly if you believe said role oughta to involve shameless shilling for his new employer. “Storytelling at its best…dynamic tales filled with heroes and villians” is Ohlmeyer’s frothy assessment of the network’s “30 On 30″ documentary series, and in a similar display of team spirit, the recent L’affair Phillips/Hundley is characterized as an overzealous news media looking to tar the entire Bristol campus with the same sex-crazed brush.

Salacious stories about celebrities generally focus on the principals, not their employers. When David Letterman was dragged into the muck of an alleged extortion attempt surrounding his affair with a co-worker, Letterman was the story — CBS was an afterthought that’s only involvement was it airs his show.

With the Phillips affair, ESPN seemed to provide much of the celebrity cachet. Without the network, Phillips-Hundley probably would have been limited as a local New York story, and then only because of his association with the Mets. While ESPN was center stage, the network itself made a choice to provide minimal coverage of the story on its platforms.

“Stories involving us are angst-ridden, and we recognize that we don’t always do our best work on them,” said Vince Doria, ESPN’s senior vice president and director of news. “It’s tough to be objective when we’re involved in some way. We tend to do the minimum that allows us to say, ‘We covered it.’ Fortunately, these types of stories don’t come along too often.”

Oh really? While I don’t endorse AJ Daulerio’s scorched earth policy towards ESPN, there’s a number of persons — Ms. Hundley’s attorneys most notably — who might be very interested in how often these types of stories seem to come along. Huggy Harold. Schlong-Snapping Sean. Zipper Problem Steve.

Seriously folks, I don’t actually expect Don Ohlmeyer to come right out and say ESPN is the most dangerous place in America for a young woman to work east of American Apparel’s headquarters, but D.O. must assume his readers are pretty gullible. Erin Andrews aside, no one at ESPN is a household name you’d associate with stalking (sorry, Steve). But some ESPN employees might end up as casualties in the high stakes pissing match between NewsCorp. and Disney, again, not the sort of thing Ohlmeyer is going to talk about publicly. Who knows, he might want to work for Rupert Murdoch someday?

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