Craig Carton Photo credit: SNY

After a trainwreck of an interview on Fox 5 Thursday morning, New York Knicks and Rangers owner James Dolan made a rare appearance on WFAN Friday afternoon.

Dolan has been criticized for reportedly banning ticket-holding lawyers from firms that are suing him and using facial recognition technology to remove them from MSG venues. On Thursday, Dolan confirmed those allegations.

“At Madison Square Garden, if you’re suing us, we’re just asking of you — please don’t come until you’re done with your argument with us,” he said. “And yes, we’re using facial recognition to enforce that.”

On Friday, Dolan appeared in-studio with WFAN afternoon hosts Craig Carton and Evan Roberts to discuss the issue. WFAN listeners hoping for a contentious interview resembling Mike and the Mad Dog vs the late George Steinbrenner were left with a lot to be desired.

Carton began the interview with Dolan by laughing about their friendship, which set the stage for what was going to be a conversation filled with friendly banter, despite New York sports fans being fed up with the sports team owner. Following the interview, Carton and Roberts were slammed on Twitter by Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, who criticized the interview for lacking substance.

“Among other things,” Marchand tweeted during the interview. “Would have been nice to confront Dolan about fans who say they are either banned or harassed because they have said on social media that Dolan should sell.”

To WFAN’s credit, Carton asked Dolan that question about 30 minutes before Marchand’s tweet.

“The concern amongst fans is that you could then weaponize the technology to keep your detractors out of the building,” Carton said during the second question of the interview with Dolan.

“I think the answer is basically no,” Dolan responded. “Except if you become confrontational. Confrontational with other fans, confrontational with the staff, confrontational with the ownership. You really have to be confrontational, not just say, ‘I don’t like you.’”

Carton broached the topic again and asked the Knicks owner to clarify what he meant by becoming confrontational, but the question was presented as a generalization, rather than noting the specific allegations against Dolan of fans and celebrities being targeted by facial recognition technology.

“The guy who works his way down the floor and as I’m leaving starts confronting me, yeah that guy’s gonna go,” Dolan said. “He’s trying to pick a fight. Same thing with the players,” the Knicks owner added, claiming that if you a fan gets personal with players, that fan can be banned and have the facial recognition technology used to remove them from a future event.

Dolan did a terrible job of answering the question, but it was at least asked of him. Carton or Roberts absolutely could have pressed the owner further on setting the dangerous precedent of banning people from MSG venues with facial recognition technology, but they didn’t. Carton and Roberts also could have pressed Dolan with specific examples of his being too sensitive to criticism in the past, especially since WFAN has been the subject of that sensitivity, but they didn’t.

But they did ask Dolan about banning fans, and they did ask Dolan about potentially selling the Knicks. So when Marchand criticized Carton for overlooking those questions, the WFAN host went on a tirade and showed Marchand the kind of vitriol that New York sports fans probably would have preferred to see directed at Dolan.

“Andrew Marchand, you are a clown,” Carton ranted after the Dolan interview. “For Andrew Marchand to say on Twitter right now that we did not confront Dolan about fans being concerned that they might be banned or harassed because they took a shot at James Dolan, and to say that we didn’t ask that question is a bold-faced lie. That was 10 minutes of the interview, us asking him repeated questions about whether or not a fan who’s critical of James Dolan’s ownership…could one day be banned with facial recognition technology was 10 minutes of the interview. You are a clown! How bout you go listen to the interview before you make a suggestion or an accusation that we didn’t do something that we did.”

Rather than hide behind a microphone or keyboard, Carton invited Marchand onto the show, and within minutes, the New York Post reporter accepted and was on the air. Their conversation wasn’t tremendously productive. Marchand questioned the optic of Carton laughing throughout the interview with Dolan rather than acting as a voice for the fans. Carton laid into the fact that he did at least ask if facial recognition technology would be used on critics.

Marchand also questioned Carton’s decision to avoid the topic of Maggie Gray. Four years ago, Gray and WFAN were banished by Dolan after she went on an epic rant blasting the Knicks owner for a moronic song he wrote about Harvey Weinstein. Carton argued that the average fan doesn’t care about Gray’s four-year-old feud with Dolan. And maybe the average New York sports fan doesn’t care about that, but the average WFAN listener probably does.

Yes, it’s old news that occurred while Carton was away, and Gray now hosts on CBS Sports Radio. But it was a direct issue between Dolan and WFAN in which the Knicks owner again exposed himself as being too sensitive to criticism. ‘Will MSG be using facial recognition technology to remove Maggie Gray from its venues?’ is absolutely a question that should have been asked. A WFAN host not asking that question leaves the impression that Dolan handed WFAN a list of topics that would be off-limits.

Carton was honest about his friendship with Dolan, and listeners should appreciate that he was open about that partiality. But when it comes to polarizing figures, if a topic can’t be discussed without bias, sometimes it’s better to just avoid the topic altogether.


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to