After I'd slammed Bob Costas' participation in that Jerry Sandusky photo op, it came as no surprise to me--or no more than the revelation that "gasbag" is now a verb--to find Costas being universally praised for it, not that I'm suggesting the two might be related. "He didn't let up!" I heard, over and over, as though the expectation was that Costas would shift gears and ask Sandusky about the BCS, or Friday Night Lights, or which latex-friendly lubricants held up best in a hot shower.
And it's not that I don't understand the basis for the expectation; an entire generation has grown up where that sort of crap is what passes for television coverage. But go watch the thing, if you wish. Costas looks and sounds for all the world like a man who inexplicably and without warning finds himself on a tightrope, and who has the presence of mind--long training, possibly Pavlovian--to recognize that the one thing he must not do is fall into the front row of the stands and land on a sponsor.
What should Bob Costas have done? Well, projectile vomiting comes immediately to mind.
And without warning seems to be an accurate description, since Costas had been scheduled to interview Sandusky's lawyer, and the disembodied voice of Sandusky himself was offered up at fifteen minutes to air. In other words, with plenty of time to say No, let him come into a studio and show his face to America if he wants some free publicity. Which, of course, was not about to happen, since the question wasn't journalism, it was free publicity for the Brian Williams Variety Hour. The next morning the whole planet--meaning all the other networks--would be talking about Bob Costas' scoop. As in kitty litter.
The question assuredly was not whether justice, rough or otherwise, would be served; in the event it was Sandusky's risible pause before--even more risibly--defending himself, not Costas' tough questioning, which would be the story. What would not be the story is how Sandusky was given the opportunity few accused boy buggerers would receive: the right to try to sell his story on prime-time teevee. At whatever cost to his victims. Sandusky wasn't there in the interests of justice. He wasn't there because a phone conversation with Bob Costas was going to illuminate the story. He was there because of prurience. Incisive questioning wasn't going to salvage that.
How th' hell does this get turned upside down? Well, for starters, there's Carmichael, who usually writes for Deadspin, the Gawker of pro sports.
Hours after Stevie Johnson mocked shooting himself in the leg, and just a few hours before Plaxico Burress publicly laughed it off and told Johnson that it was "all love," Bob Costas used a portion of Sunday Night Football's halftime show to do some excessive moralizing about excessive celebration in the NFL. He called players like Johnson "knuckleheads" and admonished us, the American public, for being "too busy keeping up with the Kardashians to notice [that] we live in a culture that in many ways grows more stupid and graceless by the moment."
Somewhere, on a La-Z-Boy in rural New England, a senile 80-year-old pumped his fist in agreement and wondered who the hell the Kardashians are.
Let's go no further before we diagram that last sentiment: a woman whose livelihood depends on turning pro athletes into tabloid fodder imagines that the only public moralists in the country are a) old; b) La-Z; and c) Out of It, out of it being defined as "not knowing who the Kardashians are", as though this is not a condition the sane portion of the country would pay any price to learn the secret of.
I don't care what you think of Costas' point; the league has considered incontinent fist-pumping, back-flipping, and biceps-voguing to be a marketing problem for some time. But, y'know, if you want to slam Costas, or his network, for hypocrisy, then maybe instead of figuring out how to use "excessive" three times in one sentence, or cunningly attributing opinion opposing yours to octogenarian, recliner-bound screamers at their teepees (lo-def, black and white, rabbit-eared in the bargain), maybe you could note that in 2000, with millions of Nike money on the line, Costas dutifully scooched over on his Olympic hosting couch, the better to help the gold-medal winning American 4x400 relay team explain away its disgusting, preening victory lap that included using the American flag like a bath towel in a Zestfully Clean! spot. That's hypocrisy, lady. Costas' opinions are at the service of his employer (which includes the NFL); if his own get in it's at the margins, or simply to the extent he's internalized NBC's wishes.
Is there something out there that says you wouldn't be five times the hypocrite for the chance to sit in Costas' chair? 'Cause if there is I've missed it. Must've been watching the Kardashians.