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Bellichick, The Media and The Theater of Sports (warning: long read)

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Wildo7, Oct 10, 2007.

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  1. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    If there's a saving grace of this whole "spy-gate" drama it's that now an entire market has been educated as to just how disingenuous and sensationalist the media can be and how strong they are in shaping people's opinions accross the country. I think most of us knew the media to be sleazy and somewhat controversy-driven, but I think this whole episode has made a lot of us aware as to how the media creates "characters" out of people not only in the sports world, but in the real world and either turns them into heroes or villains.

    When this whole story broke, the lines were divided along a few enclaves. There were the homers who were going to defend the Pats at all costs, the reasonable moderates who could see wrong but still wanted to be fair (knowing the ban talk and tarnish SB wins were too much but the Pats weren't in the clear necessarily) and the fans of other teams who were going to maximize this in their hatred of the Pats. In rushing to defend the Pats, I think most of us were forced to do quite a bit of research into the rule, when it was implemented, the real timeline of events, the extent to which other teams do it, how much it would help, how it would help, where you can steal signals from etc. Questions that were not being asked in the media who thrive off of the frenzied shouting matches and superficial moral posturing that is Around the Horn, PTI etc.

    Most of us realize that, in the grand scheme of things the videotaping was a) more of a matter of convenience than advantage, b) not only conducted by the Patriots, c) distorted by the relationship of the "characters" involved with the media and the status of the Patriots.

    In doing our own research, which usually involved searching for the most hard-to-find and journalistic articles, we've truly learned a lot. We've learned that you cannot underestimate the extent to which Bellichick's cagey attitude towards the media factors into this story. Looking at this objectively, one would see a coach and a team who never talks trash, never over-celebrates, apologized for the indiscretion, accepted the punishment, and complied completely with the NFL's demands. That should paint the picture of an honest coach and organization with integrity that man's up and accepts responsibilty for it without making media sensation out of it. Instead we get analogies to Michael Vick and Richard Nixon. The media needs their soundbites, and they need their controversy. They see a demand in losing teams' fanbases to express hatred towards the Pats and they need to feed it. We now, more than ever, know just how searing and powerful the media machine can be when it sets its sights on you.

    There's also no coincidence that many of the "villains" in the theatrical spectacle of sports are usually those that do not buy into this ongoing drama. Those not always available for comic relief, public displays of private life or 24 hour question and answer access. We knew Randy Moss was not a bad guy, but someone who wanted to win. If Randy hadn't come to the Pats, most of us wouldn't have bothered to discover, in rushing to his defense, that his "I play when I want to play" quote has been continuously taken out of context. We know Bellichick is not the evil, arrogant, megalomaniacal dictator that he has been cast as in this sports movie. But what I've taken from this is that we only really know those facts and characters that we are forced to defend. Do we really know T.O.? Do we really accept the part Barry Bonds has been chosen to play? Is Ricky Williams really the selfish stoner they portray? Who is Manny Ramirez? These athletes, who all have strange relationships with the media, who rarely defend themselves to the media, perhaps a display of class in not sinking to the tabloid level, are all getting a clean slate in my book. True, their actions may speak louder than words, but do we really even know their actions?

    Perhaps the best thing that could happen to sports fans in this country, and citizens, would be having a scandal erupt in every sports city. Only then will people recognize just how manufactured the news is. Out of fear of bringing politics into this, we can also bring this to a larger, world stage. How many different sides of a person like, say, Hugo Chavez have we heard? Does the media stand to benefit from villainizing him? Have we been given an accurate portrait of him? I'm certainly not defending or denouncing him, but I fear that most of our opinions of people like him are formed in the same way America uses Jay Mariotti to form their opinion of Barry Bonds. It might be right, it might be wrong, but at best, it's completely unreliable. Perhaps the best way to go that extra step and find out what's really going on, is to try and find ways to defend him and see what you discover.

    With all the talk of our tarnished Superbowls and Legacy, the only thing that has been tarnished is the sports media. And maybe it's for the better.

    - Will
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2007
  2. FlyingElvis75

    FlyingElvis75 On the Game Day Roster

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    I think you'll notice that the "reputable" regular-news outfits have a very high fact-to-rumor ratio, while it's quite clear that ESPN and the like are very heavy on the speculation/opinion drivel. Opinion is entertaining, facts are less so. Not that there is anything wrong with opinion, but ESPN etc. regularly crosses the line and presents rumors as fact, explicitly or implicitly.

    Another thing that reputable news outfits do is to go out of their way to present more than one side of a story, i.e. they try hard not to present one rumor without presenting a contradictory, balanced rumor. They even go overboard sometimes, which can be dangerous (e.g. presenting scientific fact as one "side" and unfounded belief as the other, when they are not anywhere near equivalent). In short, it's easy to read a "real" news article and come away feeling like both sides of an issue have some merit.

    But the sports media, and ESPN in particular, doesn't even make a token effort in most cases. If you disagree with the obvious bias they present, you're either stupid, ignorant, or unreasonable. That anyone could consider this "news" or "truth" would be laughable, if it weren't so alarming.
     
  3. Poker

    Poker Practice Squad Player

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    Nice, thoughtful post and initial response.

    I agree with the main learning we take as individuals from being on the "receiving" end of this so-called scandal: A reminder to think more openly critically about what you are hearing and reading. It is basic and prosaic, but very true.
     
  4. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    I agree that the NY Times, for example, can be trusted to have fair and accurate journalism. But remember that most Americans don't read the newspaper, they listen to talk radio and watch cable news. Turn on CNN and you get Lou Dobbs, turn on Fox and you get Bill O'Reilly, turn on the radio and you get Jay Severin etc. Unfortunately, that's what the main source of information for the majority of the United States has turned into. And it's really no better than First and Ten.
     
  5. PatsWickedPissah

    PatsWickedPissah PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Disable Jersey

    ROTFLMAO!!!!
     
  6. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    That's why I was hesitant to go there. Say, if you read the Wall Street Journal and then read the NY Times you'd get a more balanced view, or whatever actual journalism and analysis you choose to read.
     
  7. DESERTPAT

    DESERTPAT Practice Squad Player

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    WOW!, what a bunch of crap!
     
  8. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    Thanks for the insightful critique. Pretty helpful stuff.
     
  9. FlyingElvis75

    FlyingElvis75 On the Game Day Roster

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    Way to keep the level of conversation up. :/

    Seriously, though, the NYT deserve to be bashed for the crap they reported in the lead-up to the war. But the fact that they had a reputation to besmirch (and have been working their tails off to repair since) speaks well of them, as opposed to, say, the NY Post, which regularly reports worse crap and is never taken to task for it. Because their readers expect nothing more of them.

    Hehe, you forgot Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. But the difference is, I feel (in my region, at least), ESPN really is considered the "worldwide leader in sports." There's not much competition there, whereas there are plenty of news broadcasts and newspapers to choose from.

    In any case, Dobbs, O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Olbermann, etc. have clear agendas that are well-known to people that follow them. You'd have to be an idiot to think that their segments are anywhere near objective, and they're proud of that fact. And compared to the other writers/talking heads out there, their numbers are relatively small. While in the sports world, the vast majority seem to be Dobbs/O'Reilly/Limbaugh/Olbermann types, only they present themselves as "reporters" rather than partisans.

    When I think about it, sports media is a lot like entertainment media (the shows that cover Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, etc.). Tiny nuggets of fact surrounded by steaming piles of rumor and speculation...and nobody is held accountable for getting things wrong.
     
  10. DESERTPAT

    DESERTPAT Practice Squad Player

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    Sorry sensitive one, I am probably a lot older and cruder than you, I know crap when I see it.
     
  11. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    I agree completely with adding Olbermann to the list but I fear that people aren't the critical thinkers that you paint them to be. I've met way too many people who think that talking heads are "news" and rely on them as their primary source of information. And yes, I will never forgive the NY Times for the Iraq War buildup, I don't even like it to be honest, I only mentioned it because it's usually what people point to when they talk about "real journalism." Setting aside my political views, and what I read, Even if you like, say Keith Olbermann or Bill O'Reilly, you have to recognize that that doesn't provide you with the facts, interviews, investigation that a real news piece from a newspaper or even some TV reporting does. But I think there has been a deliberate effort to blur that line. True, ESPN is a monopoly and the Cable News services have competition, but I fear there's been a race to the bottom in terms of who can get the best ratings by appealing to peoples emotions rather than their intellectual curiosity and not a situation where the competition is about who has the most accurate reporting.
     
  12. FlyingElvis75

    FlyingElvis75 On the Game Day Roster

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    I guess you don't know how to avoid run-on sentences, or how to form a coherent argument, either? In that case, what the hell are you doing in this thread?
     
  13. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    Then why don't you elaborate oh wise older one instead of just calling something "crap." I'm not sensitive. I knew when I wrote this that people would disagree. But, as you know because you are so old and wise, when grown ups disagree in a discussion, they explain why and give examples.
     
  14. KoolAidDrinker

    KoolAidDrinker Practice Squad Player

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    IMO the sports media do not report, they entertain. They are almost never held accountable. Lots of media people now routinely call BB a cheater based on the rule infraction. I suppose if BB weren't working his #ss off running the team, he could pursue them all and win sizable compensation in Civil Court. But that would be a HUGE distraction (imagine how that would be "reported") and certainly won't help the Pats win the next game. And so the sports media remain unaccountable.
     
  15. DESERTPAT

    DESERTPAT Practice Squad Player

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    Just because I know crap when I see it disqualifies me from this thread? Me thinks you take yourself a little to seriously.
     
  16. FlyingElvis75

    FlyingElvis75 On the Game Day Roster

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    No, the fact that you are calling something "crap" without the slightest bit of supporting argument reveals you have nothing to contribute to this thread. So why not just keep your wise, old troll mouth shut and let people who have something substantive to say do the talking?
     
  17. FlyingElvis75

    FlyingElvis75 On the Game Day Roster

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    I think that's pretty much spot-on, and I've said the same thing elsewhere in this forum. They get paid to generate ratings, and entertainment does just that.

    I actually think BB and the Pats are doing the right thing in maintaining media silence. That ESPN ombudsperson article was spot on: talk, and you get quote-mined; don't talk, and you get accused of being "Nixonian."

    This from Easterbrook was revealing:

    Seriously, what kind of "reporter" writes such an inflammatory, accusatory piece BEFORE they have their sources in order? That's hackery at its most blatant...
     
  18. njpatsfan

    njpatsfan Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    You are late to the party, as others have made this point in numerous posts last month.

    Hugo Chavez is the perfect example - but perhaps not the way you think. If you believe the mainstream media, he a champion for "civil rights", and a courageous leader for standing up to US "imperialism". The mainstream media dutifully amplifies every Bush-bashing statement he makes.

    Of course, a more balanced media might point out that he is systematically dismantling what had been one of the most prosperous and stable democracies in South America, closing newpapers, intimidating voters and politicians with club and gun-toting mobs, and arresting opposition politicians on trumped up charges.

    A more honest media may notice that he is "nationalizing" all the key industries, and transferring control to cronies and thugs. A less left-veering press may take note that Chavez has redirected the oil wealth that made Caracas one of the more modern cities south of the border, and embarked on an arms buildup that will give him one of the largest armies in South America.

    A more critical press might report that he is arming and financing Marxist terrorist groups in surrounding countries, intent on overthrowing democracies throughout the region. And perhaps an unbiased press would investigate exactly what is on all those military cargo flights from Caracas to Havana to Damascus.

    A truly objective and unbiased press might investigate all those things. I just wouldn't hold your breath.

    After all, it was the New York Times itself who employed Walter Duranty - who for 20 years used the Times front page to cover up Stalin's 20 million dead by repeating Stalinist propaganda - to show us the "other" side of Stalin if you will - and won a Pulitzer for it. A horrid crime that has gone unacknowledged by the Times nor the Pulitzer committee to this day.

    I hope that most fans here take what they saw happen here in the sports arena, and apply that same critical thinking process to what they are being fed in the mainstream media. Though in your case, I'm sure you won't be happy with the result.

    R
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2007
  19. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    I am really regretting bringing up Hugo Chavez. I don't know what "mainstream media" your referring to, but the corporate media I've been watching has been doing the exact opposite of what you are talking about. In fact go to CNN and search "dictator" and Chavez" and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. The media might be "Democrat" leaning in it's lambasting of Bush for superficial reasons, but reinforcing corporate hegemony is it's main function and Chavez certainly does not have the interests of AOL/Time Warner, Viacom, GM, Disney, NewsCorp et. al..

    Again, you repeat the baseless accusations against Chavez of voter intimidation and "gun-toting" mobs and "financing Marxist terrorist groups" non of which there is any substantive evidence for. What there is evidence for, however, is that the last presidential election in Venezuela was fiercely monitored by international election NGOs and was incredibly transparent. You bring up oil, and his nationalizion of the Venezualan people's resources as an example of tyranny but it is anything but authoritarian. He has received an enormous popular mandate from the people and is combating corruption within government agencies, hence being allowed to rule by decree.

    The most farcical and distorted aspect of this whole propaganda campaign against Chavez is the accusation that he's shut down opposition media. The only opposition media that has been "shut down" is RCTV and that's because they conspired with the CIA to start a coup against Chavez resulting in his kidnapping and the murdering of innocent civilians. The National Endowment for Democracy is a CIA front that has worked extensively to bring down Chavez along with RCTV, and they weren't shut down, their public airwaves license was not renewed. In fact, RCTV still operates at almost it's entire capacity through staellite television. Moreover, about 80% of Venezuelan media are opposition, corporate and U.S.-backed enterprises, one would only need to turn on the television in Venezuela to receive a smattering of anti-Chavez diatribe and propaganda.

    As of now, no opposition politicians have been arrested, nor has there been this military build up that you claim. The cargo flights to Cuba? are you ctrying to imply that Chavez and Castro are about to attack the United States? Castro is on his deathbed and his first piece of advice to Chavez and Evo Morales when they came into office was not to estrange themselves from the United States as it has caused much suffering amongst the people of Cuba who are victims of the trade embargo.

    If you can't see beyond the Democrat v. Republican biases in the mainstream media, and realize that they all fall within the same narrow corporate spectrum of neoliberalism, I don't see how you can consider yourself a "critical thinker." The media sat by when Reagan did the same thing to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua by funding terrorist organizations and death squads in El Salvador that massacred thousands of people. Why hasn't your "objective" media run stories on the School of the Americas, a terrorist training ground for Latin American death squads run by the CIA? I challenge you to show me credible evidence that Chavez has, in fact, funded a terrorist Marxist organization as you claim. He has a higher Human Rights rating by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch than does the United States. His election was more transparent and more internationally monitored than was ours.

    A truly critical thinker might ask himself why Chavez is even a topic in our news when the Myanmar and Darfur situations are a mere footnote? The answer is Oil, Power and the Corporate hegemonic interests of the very conglomerates that own all of our media, from the New York Times to Fox News.
     
  20. letekro

    letekro In the Starting Line-Up

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    The media is not to blame IMO. The majority of this country is functionally illiterate, meaning they can read, but can't synthesize information and draw conclusions necessary to understand a piece of writing.

    Factual reporting is thus wasted on the majority of which you speak - better to have the opinions prepackaged and provided for the reader, listener, etc.

    In the end, I guess the question is: should the media dumb down the news to include speculation and opinion so that the majority can at least have some idea of what's going on, or stick with a factual approach that will be more accurate, but will be lost on the great majority?

    I generally think the former is the better approach. There are still many outlets that educated people have at their disposal if they want "real" journalism.
     
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