Friday, February 22, 2008

Berman speaks, Miami Herald Listens & Agrees - Everyone Misses The Point

Chris Berman spoke with the Miami Herald and addressed the six now infamous clips which were posted, and since removed, on YouTube.

Anything we could add was already posted here three days ago. There's no need to write it again.

The interview, which also features quotes from Andrea Kremer, is posted here in its entirety.


On Sports Media: 'Big Brother' watches, listens
Posted on Fri, Feb. 22, 2008


For all of the benefits of the Internet, the World Wide Web also has become a growing source of aggravation and embarrassment for sportscasters, serving up video and audio never intended for public consumption. ''It's scary,'' NBC's Andrea Kremer said via e-mail, 'because everything seems to be fair game with so many sites looking to embarrass those in the spotlight. It's like George Orwell's "Big Brother,' always watching, but in our case, it could be career-damaging.''

And the message could not be clearer: ''The bottom line today,'' Kremer said,``is that a sportscaster must assume he or she is on air always, and even the most casual or carefree behavior -- and certainly the animated or emotional one -- can end up on some website with embarrassing consequences.''

That lesson was reinforced recently for ESPN's Chris Berman, though nothing he did was career-threatening. YouTube and other Internet sites have offered old Berman clips that reportedly were distributed by a former co-worker who wanted to embarrass him. They feature Berman speaking to colleagues off the air.

In one, he complained and cursed about ESPN production employees distracting him while he was taping a segment. In another, he talked about sneaking codeine-laced Canadian aspirin into the United States. Last week, ESPN had YouTube remove the videos, citing copyright law.

''It's almost as if what we would fight against as a country -- the Soviets spying -- it's almost like that's what everyone is doing,'' Berman said by phone Wednesday. ``What's said in the huddle, which is what I did, should be in the huddle.``I'm disappointed people would think I'm not really good with the people I work with, which couldn't be further from the truth. Do I wish I didn't say a few things nine years ago? Yes. But if that's the worst thing I ever did, I can live with it.''

ESPN supported Berman, noting ``the off-air videos are now nearly a decade old and don't reflect his typical workplace demeanor.'' But the Berman videos were hardly unique. During the past year-and-a-half, including this week, has offered an audio clip of a message that ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt left for a woman he reportedly met at a bar. The message doesn't make Van Pelt look bad, but it's clearly something he wouldn't want paraded through cyberspace.

ESPN anchor Dana Jacobson's controversial remarks at a January roast in Atlantic City, N.J., became a national story only after a tipster told Deadspin that she made a comment, while under the influence of alcohol, that would have been highly offensive to Catholics. Jacobson eventually was suspended for a week, though ESPN never confirmed whether she made the alleged remark about Jesus.

Internet sites also are using on-air clips to ridicule sportscasters, especially Emmitt Smith's grammatical gaffes on NFL reports. If the remarks were made on-air, linking to them on websites -- while embarrassing to the person being ridiculed -- is certainly fair game, as long as it doesn't violate copyright laws.

But other websites have gone over the line. One mocked ESPN sideline reporter Heather Cox, questioning her qualifications for the job and noting she attended a community college and was an American Idol contestant. (Only one problem: None of that background information was accurate.) Another ran a doctored photo of a student inappropriately touching ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews. At least that was intended in jest -- and Andrews never complained about it.

Though sportscasters ultimately must take responsibility for how they present themselves, any contempt in the Berman/Van Pelt incidents should be reserved for the weasels who placed the clips on the Internet. ''Perhaps our producers also need to remind everyone that works for them of potential repercussions for video that doesn't make air as well as outtakes,'' NBC's Kremer said.

Berman now understands that ``you're being watched whether you're on TV or not. Everyone is very brave when they're anonymous, and that's very disturbing to me, whether it's about me or anyone else. I'd like to think people would be more productive with their time.'

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