Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I’m not a fan of the prediction making business; Dan Snyder’s radio row blitz

The best news about waking up yesterday morning was knowing I could safely turn on the radio or the TV without hearing the words, “Who do you like in The Super Bowl?” I really and truly don’t care who you like or who anyone on radio or TV likes or, to be honest, who I like in The Super Bowl—or any event—before it is played. If I make a prediction and I’m right it is usually because I had a 50 percent chance of being right. Same if I’m wrong.

I thought the Packers would win on Sunday. Whooeee I’m an expert. I also thought they’d lose to The Atlanta Falcons. Whoops, I’m an idiot.

Years ago, when Annika Sorenstam was getting set to play at Colonial against the men, her appearance was getting almost as much attention as a Super Bowl. Then again, The Super Bowl probably got more column inches and more TV time than what’s going on in Egypt so maybe Annika v. the boys didn’t quite rise to that level.

As luck would have it I was promoting a golf book that month—my book on the U.S. Open at Bethpage. A number of national shows wanted me to come on and talk about Annika and my publicist spent a lot of time cutting deals: John will talk about Annika but you have to ask at least one question about the book. One show that had asked for me PRIOR to Annika announcing she’d play Colonial was a CNN show that was on in those days at 11 p.m. The booker wanted to have me on the day the book was published and insisted we not book any other national shows that day. In return, she promised an entire segment on the book. Since The Today Show was otherwise occupied with cooking segments, we accepted.

The host, I think, was Aaron Brown. To make a long story a little shorter, he completely pissed me off by ignoring the book throughout the entire segment. He even promo’d the segment by saying I was coming on to talk about Annika. When I was hooked up to him by satellite while the show was in commercial I said to him, “You promo’d Annika, I’m glad to talk about her but you know I’m here to talk about the new book.”

“Yeah, yeah, we’ll get to it,” he said, leaving me very close to walking out because I knew I was about to get screwed.

The entire segment was Annika. Finally he said, “So John, what’s your prediction on how she’ll do?”

I’d been well-behaved until then but the ‘who do you like in The Super Bowl,’ question put me over.

“Aaron I think making predictions is silly,” I said. “What does it matter what I think? Let’s just wait until Thursday and we’ll find out then. I can’t think of anything more boring than so-called experts making predictions.”

“Well I think a lot of the fun in sports is making predictions,” he answered in a pouty tone.

“Fine then, you make a prediction.”

At that point his producer DID finally throw the book cover on-screen and Brown grumpily mentioned it. As soon as we were in commercial he said, “What the hell kind of answer was that on the prediction?”

I said, “what the hell kind of segment ON MY BOOK was that?”

I took the earpiece off without waiting for an answer. The next day, “Mr. Brown’s assistant,” called my publicist demanding my phone number for, “Mr. Brown.” The publicist already knew what had happened so she held out on the phone number (I’d have been glad to talk to him). When the publicist offered e-mail, the assistant said—according to her—“Do you realize who Aaron Brown is?”

Speaking of which, just to show I’m consistent on the subject the one week a year I don’t do Tony Kornheiser’s show is the first week of the NCAA Tournament. He insists everyone who comes on goes through a bracket. I find this at least as dull as, “who do you like in The Super Bowl,” so I pass on it which annoys Tony no end.

I digress. The game was excellent and my colleague Sally Jenkins has a great column in today’s Washington Post on how out-of-control everything that surrounds the game has gotten. It won’t change. The NFL defines the word excess in every way. The game was the most watched TV show EVER. So why would they change anything?

One of the more amusing sights in Dallas had to be Dan Snyder and his little entourage making the rounds on radio row on Friday afternoon. Apparently, having been ripped from stem-to-stern after the announcement of his bully lawsuit against The City Paper, Snyder and his genius PR guy Tony Wyllie (who Snyder says suggested the lawsuit; if so he should be fired for coming up with the single stupidest idea since indoor baseball) decided to go on the offensive AGAIN so they could dig the hole a little deeper.

Of course every radio show was more than willing to have Snyder on. He came with a scripted message: HE HAD to file this lawsuit because The City Paper’s Dave McKenna had ‘gone over the line,’ when he had ‘made fun of my wife who has been battling breast cancer.’ Go back and read the story. There are two sentences about Tanya Snyder and they refer ONLY to her going on TV to talk about her new-and-improved husband as part of the Danny-over-DC PR campaign to convince Redskin fans who were completely sick of the guy that he was a brand new man.

That’s IT. No mention of breast cancer and certainly no making fun of Tanya on any level. Snyder simply made that up. In doing so, he used his wife, who no doubt has been through a lot fighting the disease, as a human shield against his own critics. That’s beyond cynical.

Step two was playing the Jew card again. At one point he said, “You know, Tony, who is African-American, called this Rabbi in LA….” First, who cares that Wyllie is African-American? What relevance does that have here? Second, the quote from the Rabbi was beyond offensive to people who really have dealt with anti-Semitism and invoking the Holocaust in any way to defend the actions of a billionaire bully-boy (I realize the Rabbi didn’t see it that way but that’s the way it came out) is beyond shameful.

Throw in the fact that Snyder owns a team that he insists on continuing to call The Washington REDSKINS and the notion of him complaining about any bias is either laughable or completely hypocritical or both. When Chad Dukes went on the local non-Snyder-owned radio station in DC had the temerity to bring that up, Snyder bristled.

“Obviously you don’t know the history of the Redskins,” he said. “We’ve won lawsuits. Even bringing that up is silly.”

Really? So now you, Danny Snyder, are judge and jury on what is offensive to Jews AND what is NOT offensive to Native Americans. Do you get elected to that job or do you get it by acclamation? By the way, winning a lawsuit doesn’t make anything right, it just makes it legal. It is legal for private clubs to discriminate against people. That doesn’t mean it is right. As for history: most of us know the history: The Redskins were founded in Boston and nicknamed ‘Redskins,’ in honor of the colonials who dressed up as Indians on the night of The Boston Tea Party.

That was a LONG time ago. Back then it was also okay according to society to call African Americans, ‘coloreds.’ This is 2011. What was right eighty years ago isn’t right now and that’s not political correctness.

The funniest bits were Snyder going on about his father having been in the media—“I love the media,”—and then taking one gratuitous shot after another at anyone and everyone in the media: “You know how The Post is, they love taking shots at me. That’s the way a lot of old media is. But you know we’re doing great in radio.” (Shades of the morning pitchmen at ESPN here; I half expected him to tell us who the next cheap shot was sponsored by). There was more: To Mike Wise, who actually tried to ask him a couple of follow-up questions that went beyond his script, “I know how you media guys are, you defend one another all the time no matter what.”

Yes, he loves the media.

I was about to write the words, ‘enough about Snyder,’ but what’s the point. He’s going to force me to write about him again soon because he’s going to continue to simply make things up to justify who he is. And, unlike some of my good friends, I’m going to respond when he does.


steveM said...

Snyder's actions & comments are similiar to that of Czar Nicholas before the Bolshevik Revolution. Like the Czar, Snyder is misreading the public, surrounds himself w/ yes men,gives puzzling answers, and has his own version of reality. Lets hope the Redskins future is not as painful as what befell the Russian people.

Paul said...


NOTHING is more boring than predictions. Even worse than predictions by hosts or guests in the know are when radio shows have callers who call in with predictions. Like I'm going to call in after the game and compliment Joe who predicted a Packer victory. Especially if Joe is from Green Bay.

The worst part of predictions is when they are done by hosts who use them in the future to detail how great they are but don't mention the predictions they got wrong (i.e. Colin Cowherd). When people call them on their wrong predictions they (Cowherd) say things like "well we know much more now than then. We are grownups" and shrug the caller off as an idiot.

While I don't like predictions by anyone, hosts that make predictions should at least have the stones to own up to the wrong ones as much as the ones they got right. Many of them don't. So predictions are a waste of air time.

ruffin said...

He insists everyone who comes on goes through a bracket. I find this at least as dull as, “who do you like in The Super Bowl,” so I pass on it which annoys Tony no end.

Thank you. I skip the podcast through that and Reginald and Jaws picking NFL games too. (Carville is too good to miss.) It's a waste, unless you're a betting man, I suppose.

Really? So now you, Danny Snyder, are judge and jury on what is offensive to Jews AND what is NOT offensive to Native Americans. Do you get elected to that job or do you get it by acclamation?

And thanks again. The ExtremeSkins board is full of irrational exuberance for All Things Snyder. This restores a bit of my sanity.

Anyone know if this Charity:Water is paying to advert on the site or if it's a Feinstein cause? I briefly considered not buying any more Feinstein books used, but this seems like a better way to say thanks.

Anonymous said...


That is a very justified shot at Kornheiser at the end of this post. Is he not mentioning this very substantive news because a) he is too friendly with Snyder or b) because he has been documented as a real jerk when it comes to McKenna and he doesn't want that history examined again?

TK certainly is far from his roots as a journalist at this point (as he admits -- unlike Wilbon who gets paid as a journalist to cover his "buddies"), since he won't even take up arms with this as an issue of the freedom of the press.

If you don't mention this ridiculous lawsuit on your weekly TK appearance, should we assume that he forbid you to do so?

DrBear said...

John - a bit of background on the Redskins nickname. The team started in Boston, as you probably know, and was originally the Braves because they played at the Braves' ballpark. George Marshall - another guy with great racial sensitivity - decided after a year he didn't like the Braves deal and moved the team to Fenway Park. Stuck with a lot of Native American-themed stuff, he switched to Redskins. I think they should continue the tradition of being named after their stadium and become the Cargo Planes.

Chuck B '92 said...

John, thanks for talking with me briefly after your broadcast this Sunday. Am I ever glad I didn't ask you who you liked in the Super Bowl!

Momus said...

When Stanford University decided in the early 1970's to change its nickname from Indians, since that was considered offensive, the preferred choice of the Student Body at the time was "Robber Barons" in honor of the school's patron, railroad magnate Leland Stanford. Alas, the school administration declined to heed this suggestion.

Perhaps Robber Barons would be an appropriate new moniker for Washington's football team, given the behavior of Dan Snyder in particular. After all, the term traces back to medieval German lords who charged exorbitant tolls ...sound familiar to anyone who has had the misfortunate of parking at FEDEX? And while it is a perjorative term, it certainly is no worse or more offensive than the team being called the Redskins.

If Mr. Snyder has any sense of football history (which I'm not sure he does), he might actually be amenable to having his team nicknamed after him, even in a non-complimentary manner. After all, Paul Brown only reluctantly agreed (or so the story goes) that the new Cleveland professional football franchise could be given the name preferred by the fans, after his choice, Panthers, was not available. How many other team owners other than Danny (or perhaps Mike Brown from a family perspective)could say that his franchise was actually named in his honor?

Anonymous said...

Snyder is exhibits all of the text book definitions of a pure sociopath. He cannot see another point of view and is only concerned with his own immediate gratfications.

DC's NFL team is owned by an absolute psychopath and there is nothing anyone can do about that.

bevo said...

As I life long Redskins fan, I like the nickname Cargo Planes. The Washington Cargo Planes has a nice, Arenaball sound to it.

I too skip the tournament week of the Mr. Tony podcast. Who cares? I do enjoy Carville though because he says great stuff about random topics. Also, I like Jaws because he usually says something insightful about the match up unlike the blowhards on television.

As to the Snyder lawsuit, I really hope the court find the lawsuit so frivolous that the judge forces Snyder to pay damages to the WCP.

Anonymous said...

This is why I read your blog every chance I get - Hopefully you'll get a chance to discuss this on Tony's show. It appears as if Tony's Kehonees are in a jar on Mr. Snyder's desk.

Anonymous said...

"I think they should continue the tradition of being named after their stadium and become the Cargo Planes."

Nice idea, but the "Security Patdowns and Cancelled Trips" better describes both venues.

Anonymous said...

In keep in with the themes of the NFL going completely over the top, and teams naming themselves with adjectives, I would suggest the "Washington Excess".

Mark said...

John, I think Snyder's lie about the article going after his wife is along the same behavior as his response to you when he asked what you had against Children's Hospital. His logic was that since you criticize him and he donates money to Children's Hospital, you don't like Children's Hospital.

Serious mental issues with this guy and I think it all ties in. He can't take resonsibility so he shoves his wife and Wylie in front of the bus.

And as a Jew whose family members went through the Holocaust, some making it out and some who did not, it sickens me that he's accusing them of antisemitism. I'm ashamed to even think he's part of my community in any way.

Can't the NFL get rid of this guy? He's a reflection on the whole business.

Matt Dick said...

Having read TK from his days as a writer 30 years ago, I am a loyal podcast listener to his show. The only time I miss it is when he covers March Madness. It's quite literally a show turned over to the relentless listing of American colleges and universities.

How could anyone possibly find that interesting?

pulmcrit1 said...

Fantastic blog entry. You are 100% correct about both the silliness of predictions and Daniel Snyder. I was surprised to hear Snyder on Jim Rome's show last Friday. I have heard Jim Rome interview you, and I really hope he will have you on again soon so you can inform his (Rome's) listeners about what a lying piece of dirt Snyder is. Thanks so much for what you do.