Doug Gottlieb is embarking on another new endeavor. The former CBS Sports radio host has up and moved to Fox Sports where he’ll be a basketball analyst and radio host (presumably until the Oklahoma State job opens up again in a few years). That puts him in “good” company as he’ll join Colin Cowherd, Clay Travis, Jason Whitlock, and Skip Bayless, to name a few, on that network’s ever-growing roster of People Who Say Stuff Loudly.
Before starting that new gig, Gottlieb stopped by the Barrett Sports Media Podcast last week where he spent time talking with host Jason Barrett on a multitude of topics, from how he felt when he found out he wasn’t going to become OSUs next head coach (“I was in a million different pieces on the sidewalk”) to what went wrong with CBS Sports (“It was a missed opportunity on both ends”).
One topic in particular that seemed to get Gottlieb’s goat was the way Sports Illustrated media reporter Richard Deitsch covers Doug’s new co-worker, Skip Bayless. Bayless, a king of hot takes in a land full of hot takers, takes to Twitter quite often to share his strong opinions that often fly in the face of, shall we say, logic.
It's already clear league wants LeBron back in Finals. Refs are Cavs' 6th, 7th and 8th men. Make Cavs virtually unbeatable in East.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 15, 2017
That’s usually when Deitsch steps in with something like this…
The Skip Bayless-led Undisputed is drawing a 0.0 rating in 18 U.S. television markets including Buffalo, Cincinnati and Miami. https://t.co/21fnYvFfj5
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) April 15, 2017
Last Wednesday the Bayless-led Undisputed drew 106,000 viewers.
On the same day/slot: The Lion Guard on the Disney Channel drew 829,000. https://t.co/tMvOWc3ZSN
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) April 12, 2017
Last Wednesday the Bayless-led Undisputed drew 106,000 viewers.
On the same day/slot: a 1994 episode of Martin drew 219,000 on BET. https://t.co/Np3OEG41bt
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) April 11, 2017
It’s pretty much become a regular feature in anyone’s Twitterfeed who follows Deitsch. Bayless tweets something Baylessian, Deitsch tweets how poor Skip’s ratings are, and on and on we go until the end of time or FS1, whichever comes first.
So, yeah, Doug Gottlieb is not a fan.
“I think it’s embarrassing when Richard tweets those numbers out. Hey dude, you have a podcast. Let’s see those numbers. If his job is to be the sports media reporter, then he should break news. He should be ahead of stories and tell people what’s going on behind the scenes. He does some of that but not a ton of it.
Now is he an analyst of television shows? If that’s his role, then one, he’s never been on television so he’s talking about stuff he doesn’t know about. Two, go thru shows. Watch an entire show or entire week of shows and give the analysis.
If that’s your job then do it. But just taking potshots because you don’t like the debate format or Skip Bayless, that shows great insecurity and if you’re Sports Illustrated I don’t know how you think that’s good. You become the laughing stock of broadcasting.”
Okay, so, lots to take in here. Before we get into it, let’s first acknowledge that Gottlieb and Deitsch have a history that you probably won’t find surprising.
So looking at these comments, there’s a lot of simple rebuttals that can be made based on what Gottlieb says. Deitsch actually does quite a bit of behind the scenes reporting and if this is about tweets, just scroll his Twitterfeed to see how many stories he writes about what goes on behind the scenes in the world of sports media. He’s also become something of a resource for sports fans on Twitter who want to be kept abreast of good journalism, but don’t have the time to go searching for it. Deitsch’s retweets carry weight in that arena.
From here Gottlieb goes on the “if you’ve never worked on a TV show, you can’t criticize one” defense, which, c’mon. That’s just lazy. What does that even have to do with a show’s ratings? And two, you don’t think Deitsch has watched FS1 shows? The point isn’t that he’s not watching, the point is that he’s watched and found what he saw to be wanting (as our Ian Casselberry once said, watching Undisputed “should be called an endurance test”).
Finally, Doug protests the “potshots” that Deitsch is taking each time he tweets about Skip’s lousy ratings, as if Gottlieb, Bayless and the majority of talent on FS1 haven’t built entire careers on potshots. It’s in this faulty logic that we finally come to the recognition that Gottlieb is simply missing the point about what Deitsch is doing.
Bayless’ work ethic, which would be commendable if it wasn’t used to accomplish something so unappealing, means he’s constantly working some kind of platform to push his presence and his takes. He’s got Undisputed. He’s got Facebook Live. He’s commenting on his own Facebook Live videos. He’s on the radio. He’s doing interviews talking about how right he is. And of course, he’s on Twitter where he tries to mine takes like “LeBron is bad” so far past the point of credence that it’s a parody of a parody of a parody.
So when Deitsch tweets about how more people watch Animal Cops Miami than Undisputed, it’s not about saying Skip is wrong. It’s about saying Skip is irrelevant. His opinions do not matter in the way he thinks. They are farts in the wind.
That isn’t to say people aren’t watching or paying attention. The numbers say that, for better or worse, debate shows are still alive and well. But there’s a difference between raw numbers and influence.
It’s a bit like being on a hit CBS sitcom. Yes, you are being watched by millions of people across the country. Yes, your show is one of the most popular on TV right now. But those people who are watching aren’t influencing the culture. You will not hear your catchphrases when you walk down the street and you will not see your show trending online when it’s on. You might get 10 million viewers today, but you’re forgotten within six months and no one remembers anything about your show. It’s ephemeral, meant to satisfy in that singular moment but otherwise forgotten.
You matter, but you also don’t. That’s a cold, hard truth in a world where your opinion is supposed to hold weight.
Meanwhile, shows with a third of your ratings on other channels or platforms dominate the pop culture landscape and live on for decades through fandom and adoration because they connect on a deeper level through better writing, better performances, or a sense of relevance.
So yes, on an obvious level, Richard Deitsch is trolling Skip Bayless each time he tweets. But on a deeper level, Deitsch is laying bare the essence of Bayless’ career and those who work beside him (like Gottlieb now). It must be terrifying for someone who treads the same water to realize that your work, while it may check all the corporate boxes, has no real connection to the world in which it’s supposedly a driving force.
When it comes to guys like Bayless and Cowherd and Gottlieb, it’s clear that they’re getting results on a certain level. That’s why Skip keeps tweeting. But do they matter? Does what they say matter? It doesn’t quite feel like it, and that’s why Deitsch keeps tweeting.