Monday, January 19, 2009
What do Ron Hornaday Jr. And The Pittsburgh Steelers Have In Common?
The answer is they both got smeared by ESPN. This process is very simple and easy to understand. It starts with a person or a team that is singled-out by ESPN well in advance.
Despite the reality of the facts surrounding the subject in question, a team at ESPN takes months to create a high-profile smear-and-run campaign.
It involves many ESPN employees who work for the TV, radio and Internet divisions of the company. Once the plan is complete, the story is launched at the most opportune time to garner the best publicity for all of the ESPN "platforms."
In 2008, this happened to Ron Hornaday Jr. when ESPN announced to the world that Hornaday had taken steroids for performance enhancement because of his advanced age. Click here for the original story.
ESPN reporter Shaun Assael alleged Hornaday was worried about losing his ride to younger drivers. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Ron Hornaday thought he was dying.
The campaign was launched (click here) just before NASCAR began the 2008 Chase for the Championship on ABC. The story was released mid-week so it had several days to grow on the Internet before the Truck and the Sprint Cup Series raced together at the very same track. What a coincidence.
By the time Hornaday pulled into the race track, the media had been whipped into a feeding frenzy. Where ESPN was concerned, the execution of the plan was perfect.
There is a growing slice of the very big ESPN pie that does not care about truth, accuracy in media or sports in general. The purpose of the smear-and-run is not to expose a story or confront an issue.
It is simply to get ESPN's "brand" in the news on a global basis. The stigma (click here) still lingers for Hornaday. There was no performance issue. There were no lies. The topic was gone with one press conference.
One day later, Dr. Jerry Punch said on the air "Ron Hornaday will not be disciplined by NASCAR for the testosterone use for a medical condition, a thyroid condition."
The entire response from the NASCAR on ESPN on-air team took eight seconds. The topic was never mentioned again. No one from ESPN ever apologized to Hornaday. They did not have to, he was collateral damage. The real mission had been accomplished.
Now that the NFL is into the playoffs, ESPN's latest target is the Pittsburgh Steelers football team. The allegation (click here) is that the players took Human Growth Hormone (HGH) given to them by a dirty team doctor.
The ESPN reporter is Mike Fish, the same one who surfaced last season to feed (click here) the phony NFL video cheating scandal. That story was released just before the Super Bowl and instantly put the ESPN "brand" around the world in less than one day.
In reality, the doctor in Fish's newest smear left the Steelers organization back in 2007 and the HGH shipment the physician admits receiving was in 2006. That does not seem to be an issue because The Steelers made the playoffs this season. Any story from ESPN with Steelers in the title will get published worldwide. It (click here) certainly did.
Pro Football Talk (click here) suggests that the only reason ESPN released the story recently is because it feared the Steelers would lose in the playoffs and the story would lose its "scandal appeal." Here is an excerpt:
The overriding purpose (of this smear-and-run) is to create another Patriots-style lightning rod, drawing eyeballs and ears to the various ESPN (TV, radio and Internet) platforms so that ESPN can acquire information and express opinions about whether the Steelers’ most recent Super Bowl win is tainted and whether their current run for another title can be undermined by the efforts of ESPN to create a distraction. We wonder how long ESPN can peddle this same, tired formula.
The Hornady story resulted in a TDP column (click here) titled "The Two Faces Of ESPN On Display."
One division of ESPN telecasts both NASCAR and the NFL. This side of ESPN is loaded with hard working men and women with a love of sports and an incredible work ethic.
The dark side of ESPN is loaded with guys like Mike Fish and Shaun Assael. They exploit the power of the ESPN "brand" and attack the very sports that allowed ESPN to flourish and become a success. They do it when the stories will get the most publicity and have no conscience about truth or the effect of their written words.
NASCAR is weeks away from the start of the most confusing and off-balance season in the modern era. Collapsing teams, angry drivers and bankrupt sponsors are threatening to push the sport to the brink. It should be very interesting to see which side of ESPN shows-up to handle this situation.
NASCAR Now on ESPN2 starts February 2nd at 5PM ET. Stay tuned.
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