to readers: Thanks to Merwincast, for the comment on the last post, and
also for the heads up about the RSS issues. If others of you are having
problems, and wouldn't mind telling me, I'd appreciate it. It keeps
getting pushed back, but if all goes as planned, I am going to moving
off of this stupid AOL journals format and onto my own website,
www.sportsmediareview.com, in the next few days. Once there, I will
have all sorts of better functionalities, including a much easier way
for readers to leave comments. I will, of course, let you all know when
I make that transition).
Tiki Barber, soon-to-be full-time broadcaster, has been doing a regular gig on FOX News “Fox and Friend First” every Tuesday morning from 6 am to 7 am. His co-hosts are Brian Kilmeade and Kiran Chetry.
I was curious about two things: 1) how is Tiki, in general, as a broadcaster/studio personality and 2) is there any indication of his ideological leanings, particularly whether he shares the general ideological predilections of the company for whom he currently works. To answer the second question first, Tiki did read copy repeating a variation on the FOX promotional slogan: “fair and balanced, as always.” And the fact that he did it without laughing out loud shows either that he buys the program or that he’s especially good at delivering punch lines with a straight face. Other than that, Tiki did not betray whatever his personal ideological proclivities are.
On the first question, Tiki acquitted himself well enough. He can read cue cards fluidly, appears comfortable in front of a camera and is capable of spontaneous banter. I know I am stating the obvious when I say that early morning television fare is, in general, dreck. And, FOX and Friends is more amateurish and, unsurprisingly, simple-minded even in comparison with its unimpressive competition, like the Today Show. More than the other shows, FOX and Friends segments appear to be an opportunity for the hosts to opine about the moral decline of America. On topics like whether Miss USA should be stripped of her crown because of her off-the-runway difficulties, or whether municipalities should be paying the costs of rescue efforts such as the one currently unfolding on Mount Hood, Kilmeade and Chetry weighed in on the larger principle at stake. I found it noteworthy that Tiki seemed always to keep his opinions to himself. He might pose a question or inject a point for discussion, but he never took a position on the issues his co-hosts were discussing.
“Tiki Tuesday” included a discussion of the brawl at the Garden Saturday night, featuring the author Don Yeager, who wrote Pros and Cons, an SI writer who wrote an expose of the all the criminal activity committed by NFL players. Tiki introduced the segment by asking whether the suspensions were too lenient and the discussion was framed around Yaeger’s contention that the fines and suspensions were not harsh enough to “teach the players a lesson.” Yaeger described the Palace brawl as “only two years ago” (as if a pro sports fight taking place once every two years is somehow excessive) and decried the fact that Stephen Jackson’s shooting incident this summer showed that his thirty game suspension for the 2004 brawl was too lenient. Tiki himself interjected that fines of a couple hundred grand are not a big deal for pro athletes and Yaeger jumped on that point. But, the collective bargaining agreement stipulates that a player is to lose 1/110th of his salary for every game he’s suspended. So, if ‘Melo is suspended for fifteen games, for example, he loses roughly one-seventh of his salary. Since Anthony makes about $16 million a year, the lost pay due to suspension comes out to something like $2.3 million. Now, the fact is that Anthony can afford that, but $2.3 million is certainly a stiff financial penalty for throwing a punch and it would be nice (though clearly too much to ask) for FOX to not make a mistake of this magnitude in discussing the severity of the financial penalties being doled out.
Kilmeade interjected to ask whether the NBA is, in fact, happy about the brawl because of all the publicity the fight is getting and Yaeger asserted that, yes, the NBA is happy. Mind you, the NBA has become convinced that its “thuggish” reputation is its single biggest marketing problem, but when you’re in a fact-free zone, like FOX, you don’t have to worry about such subtleties. (Yaeger did later acknowledge that Commissioner Stern was trying to avoid such incidents).
This is such exasperatingly stupid stuff that it seems unworthy of comment. The NBA obviously cracks down harder now on fighting than do other sports. There is no other league in which a player throwing a single punch, and one that didn’t cause any injury at all, would result in the player being suspended for twenty percent of the season. That is not a commentary on whether the NBA’s suspension of Carmelo Anthony was too harsh. If the league wants to make sure that this stuff simply never happens, it’s a justifiable penalty. But, there is just a complete lack of perspective here on how the fight Saturday night stacks up to fights in other sports.
Tiki, notably, had less to say about the fight than Yaeger, Kilmeade or Smith. Whether that’s because, as a pro athlete trying to show he’s something more than a pro athlete, he did not want to weigh in too much on a sports issue, or because he’s naturally deferential, or because he disagreed with the other three and didn’t want to say so out loud, I don’t know.
I haven’t had a chance to hear Tiki’s satellite radio show. Based on his appearance on the FOX show, Tiki’s playing it safe. By all accounts, he’s a highly intelligent person and, as an African-American, he’s an extreme rarity on non-sports cable or broadcast television news. It’s too bad, therefore, that we don’t hear more of what he has to say.