Sports By Brooks has quite the bombshell in his latest post in which he claims that ESPN brass actively sought to steer the line of questioning directed at Jim Miller, author of Those Guys Have All The Fun. Matt had a great review on the 745 page dive into the history, highs, and lows of The Worldwide Leader and we’ll actually be doing an interview ourselves hopefully free and clear of corporate politics.
Miller hinted at his skepticism that his appearances on ESPN shows would actually take place when he appeared on the Dan Patrick show earlier this week. This week Miller appeared on Mike and Mike, The Scott Van Pelt Show and The Doug Gottlieb Show, all of which seemed to possess a noticeable pattern in questioning.
Per Brooks’ sources internally at ESPN, it seems management was vocal in trying to sway the tenor and subject of these interviews away from some of the more embarrassing stories in the book.
“Though from what I was told this week about the circumstances of Miller’s radio appearances that day, ESPN management did everything in its power to control what was asked of the author by the hosts of the shows.
When Miller was booked on the shows two weeks ago, ESPN management took the highly unusual step of drawing up talking points, in the form of six questions, that it highly encouraged on-air hosts adhere to while interviewing Miller.
Along with those talking points, ESPN management asked some of those involved in each show to make sure the word “dominate” was not used while engaging Miller on the air.”
Since details of the book stared to leak out via advanced copies, ESPN has been cautiously been on defcon 3 looking to jump in for damage control as needed. ESPN President George Bodenheimer even wrote a blog post on their weird PRish blog The Front Row titled “Dedication and Respect” in which he defends ESPN’s culture and history (the article has received no comments and in fact the entire site seems to have almost no comments).
Frankly speaking I don’t really blame ESPN for trying to spin these interviews off-course from some of the more sordid revelations of the book. I do think it is in poor form though given those three shows all have personalities with unique engaging styles, and more importantly great history and presumably loyalty to ESPN. It is commendable to a certain degree that ESPN allowed their personalities to partake in being part of the book in addition to giving airtime to the book’s author, but in the end they’ve created another embarrassing story by trying to interject an editorial strategy aimed at minimizing the damage.
At the end of the day it’s merely a book and these interviews took place on the radio. The vast majority of ESPN’s audience probably still doesn’t know of the book’s existence. The reality is that ESPN’s core audience won’t be making any trips to Barnes and Noble for this book or any other until at least August when hopefully they’ll need to pickup a fantasy football cheat sheet.