Dear Objective Bruce
You are always welcome to post comments on this webpage. You definitely bring a different point of view and we appreciate that. Yet, you sometimes make points which are either flawed logically or are otherwise erroneous. In so doing, you often make disparaging comments about this page’s bloggers. We often call you on these points but you inevitably fail to respond. Let’s look at two recent examples:
- DBVader has repeatedly called on you to admit your error regarding a recent column in which you claimed a reference did not exist but DB showed definitively that it did. He has asked you about this repeatedly and you have not responded.
- On this past Sunday’s blog entry, I claimed that Shaughnessy was being hypocritical in criticizing Schiling’s Cy Young contract clause while at the same time Shaughnessy pushed the work of his fellow Globe writers. You claimed that this was a poor comparison and you called me naïve and you called my agenda silly.
Specifically, you said:
How incredibly naive.
No, Schilling isn't going to share his million dollar bonus with a sportswriter who throws him a vote. But with a million on the table, can it be said that Schilling won't be friendly toward a sportswriter who could give him a vote? Doesn't giving a sportswriter the opportunity to single-handedly increase someone's income by a million dollars also give that sports writer greater access and give the player an incentive for giving information to that writer -- and not just information about the team but, oh say maybe information about what happened in a close-door clubhouse meeting?
The conflict of interest could not be more clear. It is truly naive if you can't see the difference between placing a reporter in a position where he can make someone that he covers a million dollars richer and praising a book by a colleague.
Now, I started to break your statement down in the blog response section but since you generally don’t respond to those, let’s do some detailed analysis of the absolute absurdity of your comment above and let’s do it on the front page.
You question the wisdom of giving a sportswriter the opportunity to single-handedly increase someone’s income by a million dollars. First of all, I would suggest that this goes on all of the time but it is not in such a direct form. I am certain that athletes give certain reporters access that they don’t give to others. What is the payoff? Favorable coverage of course. Favorable coverage translates into improved public relations perceptions of that player which means things such as more lucrative endorsements which means lots of dollars. I imagine certain players are absolute masters of this. Can you refute this Bruce?
Bruce, you talk about players giving reporters insight into the team behind closed doors. You imply this is a bad thing. Please complete this sentence, Bruce: “This is bad because….” In my line of thinking, it is bad if 1) if the reporter does not provide a fair assessment of that player –in other words, he gives him an unjustified free pass or 2) if the reporter blatantly does something like provide an unjustified Cy Young vote to a player who clearly does not deserve it. We already discussed the fact that 1) probably happens to some degree—whether it is a deliberate act by the reporter or if the reporter does not even realize that he or she is being a pawn. I would sincerely hope that a reporter would not be so weak as to be manipulated like this—but I guess I would not be surprised either. After all,I do recall Shaughnessy's review of Larry Bird’s new line of wine a while back – Bruce, do you think that little column increased sales of Bird’s wines? What's the difference here, Bruce?
The second case (casting an unjustified Cy Young vote as a form of payback) is much more blatant – and because it is so blatant, it would play out in the court of public opinion. The reporter would likely be revealed and censured – his integrity would be under attack. Why risk this? The player would also come off incredibly poorly—would it really be worth it to the player being portrayed as manipulative to cash in on a contract clause that has marginal impact on his salary? At any rate, things have a way of self corrrecting when they are made public like this – it is the power of the market of public opinion.
What is Shaughnessy’s solution? “Let’s take the vote away from the writers.” That is pure brilliance. Does Shaughnessy really have such little faith in his fellow sportswriters to think they need to be saved from their collective incompetence? Look around Bruce…people all around the world are in positions of power – in these positions of power , they are often in a position to be bribed. By logical extension, Shaughnessy would have you believe that the solution to this would be to remove them from their positions of power. I can hear it now, “Sorry Congressman, we need to remove you from your position because you might get bribed.” If this were the solution, would anything in the world get done? Shaughnessy’s solution is absurd to its very core and it is also a slap in the face of his fellow sportswriters.
Switching gears here, let’s look at the old cronyism in the sportswriting profession in which someone like Shaughnessy endorses the work of his fellow employees at the Globe. I am perhaps guilty of hyperbole in suggesting that these guys are sharing royalties but I am trying to make a point. What if instead, there is a tacit agreement between the writers “I will give you a favorable push if you return the favor down the road.” This is intellectually dishonest especially when it is the case that a particular writer’s work doesn’t merit a push. I, as a reader, may be deceived because a given columnist (who I thought I trusted) did not provide an intellectually honest opinion about a fellow journalist because he is engaging in tit for tat endorsements. I would suggest this is just as bad as the abuses that can play out in the athlete/sportswriter relationship discussed earlier. Why doesn’t Shaughnessy suggest the ban of these endorsements?
Because he's too busy doing it and does not realize the utter hypocrisy of it all.
Our agenda is not silly. Shaughnessy is paid big dollars to write for a major newspaper. His work is often fundamentally flawed and we have every right to call him on that. The readers of the Boston Globe deserve much better than Dan Shaughnessy’s mindless drivel.