Don Imus vs.
And yet, no punishment for Colin Cowherd. Well, beyond being publicly humiliated by an ESPN ombudsman on her first week on the job, who doesn't know that much about ESPN yet but knows enough that Cowherd is a schmuck. (Yes, "schmuck" IS very technical journalistic jargon.) It is absolutely astonishing to see the level of sports-blog solidarity in rallying around The Big Lead -- and recognizing how out-of-bounds Cowherd truly was.
It's the same old story: If mainstream sports media covered themselves in the same way that they covered athletes, this would be a much bigger story. But that's how it has always been – and how it always will be.
And that's why sports-bloggers have become the counterbalance to the biggest mainstream sports media; the fragmentation of local traditional sports media has always undermined its ability, in aggregate, to cover "national" stories or connect with a "national" audience (which is quickly becoming the most important segment of sports audience).
Ironically, sports blogs – which are about as localized and fragmented and niche as you can get – work as one big distributed network to cover stories like this. And consumers are the better for it.
Cowherd did what he did because, down deep, he's afraid of the changes in his industry. Like Imus, what he fears most is his own irrelevancy. This incident -- and the blogger blowback -- isn't foreshadowing Cowherd's fears coming true; it's proving that they are here already.)
(I highly recommend Gwen Ifill's must-read op-ed column about Imus in today's New York Times.)
UPDATE: I'm watching the Rutgers team do their press conference right now across every major news network. It's fascinating, and it's refreshing to see unrehearsed sincerity and candor where so much of the response from Imus and NBC has been.