By T.J. Simers
Sam Farmer turned over his fluff reporting to the only man who could do better, the guy paid to hype the British Open on TV.
Ingenious. NBC-TV’s Mike Tirico does all the work and Sam maintains his reputation as the LA Times’ chief schmoozer.
The hype begins almost right away. Sam tells us by way of introduction that “In 25 years covering the Open Championship, the NBC golf commentator has seen his appreciation for this place only grow.”
He’s seen it, I’m happy for him, but why do I need to read about it? Hello, friends, isn’t it enough that we have to find the courage some weekends to watch golf with Jim Nance announcing?
In those 25 years that Tirico has covered the Open, this is only the fifth time they are at the Old Course because the tournament rotates from here to there. It is Tirico’s job to supply the reverential commentary to the TV pictures to help drive up the ratings. Next year the reverential whisper will come from Royal Liverpool.
I can’t say for sure if this is the first time the Times has struck a partnership with NBC to help its cause, but I know it has a deal already to promote ESPN by providing columnist Bill Plaschke regularly.
It is against the Times’ Ethics Guidelines for Plaschke to give his freelance insights to ESPN for financial gain. Unless, of course, the Times can benefit, the Times getting a TV camera from ESPN years ago to use on other projects in the Times’ newsroom.
Many years ago, vaunted baseball writer Bob Nightengale got fired for sending his work to SI.
Nightengale claimed the Times fired him for writing articles about racism in sports. He hired famed attorney Johnny Cochran, but the lawsuit never really gained traction. As someone who has been there and done that, it is an excruciating process.
Nightengale is presently a highly regarded baseball columnist for USA Today.
I found it interesting to read Nightengale’s Wikipedia page, which reads: “During his time at the (LA Times), he worked alongside baseball journalism contemporary Bill Plaschke.”
I had drinks with columnist Mike Royko at the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, and that beats working alongside Plaschke any day of the week so big whoop.
Now as for that ESPN camera, Around the Horn and Plaschke boosting the network’s rating, read that sentence again and tell me if that could possibly be accurate.
Plaschke replaced me on Around the Horn, and there is no question that was an upgrade. But the newspaper’s relationship with ESPN has always been hypocritical, the ESPN website a direct competitor of the Times and having Plaschke pass on his thoughts to the ESPN website every week would be a firing offense.
I can’t imagine watching Around the Horn, though, without Plaschke on it, and read that sentence again and tell me if that could possibly be accurate.
As for allowing NBC to tout the British open in the Times without paying for an ad, the newspaper is going out of business.
Mike Tirico works for NBC, but I don’t know if it is against the Times’ ethics to promote him, after all, he used to work for ESPN. I just know it’s a pretty good scam if you can get somebody else to write your story.
And Tirico has to just love the headline in the Times over his story: “FIRST PERSON—A SPECIAL SOMETHING.” I have never thought of Tirico as a special something. Salma Hayek maybe.
The headline continued: “Tirico, NBC’s broadcaster for the British Open, affirms exactly what makes the Old Course so revered.”
Shouldn’t a real golfer who has been out there whacking the golf ball affirm exactly what makes the Old Course so revered? Golfers have to play well to get paid and know every corner of the place; yapping TV heads just have to let the TV pictures tell the story.
I would have had Tiger Woods give us a FIRST PERSON story on the Old Course because he’s got nothing else to do the next couple of days. That would have really been A SPECIAL SOMETHING.