Other than being one of my favorite Al Franken books, the phrase I used for the title of this post exemplifies how I feel about much of the Chicago Cubs’ media coverage. Today’s example is Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Last Sunday, Wittenmeyer reported on Theo Epstein promising that “real soon” the Cubs will be dictating big moves at the annual winter meetings. Here is the money quote.
“We don’t like having days like [Tuesday], where there are big trades and free-agent signings and we’re sitting it out,” team president Theo Epstein said. “You think we want to be there sitting it out? No. But there will be a day real soon when we’re right in the middle of that because we have more financial flexibility, because we have lots of talented young players — assets that everyone wants around the game — and we’re going to be the ones dictating all those big moves.”
Clearly – CLEARLY – this quote is referring to the coming years and couldn’t – and SHOULDN’T – be construed as referring, in any way, to THIS year’s winter meetings.
Today, Gordon writes about the Cubs’ inability to trade Jeff Samardzija (because, of course, they are failures if they don’t trade him…though they will also be failures, I’m sure, if they don’t trade him for exactly whatever Gordon thinks is enough) and, immediately following a Jed Hoyer quote about other deals at this years winter meetings and how they effect the Cubs’ ability to make deals, throws out this gem.
That’s a far cry from the vision Epstein expressed last week when he said the Cubs will be “dictating all those big moves” instead of watching and waiting for prospects to hit.
Go back and read the first quote of Theo Epstein and focus on these words, “…because we have lots of talented young players…,” and note the tense used. “Because we HAVE…,” as in, at such time as the Cubs have talented young players in the majors, the team will be able to dictate more big moves. Compare that to the second quote from Wittenmeyer’s story today, which is clearly meant to refer to THIS years meetings and imply that Epstein was either lying last week or a failure this one.
And that right there is the standard modus operandi for Chicago Cubs’ media: 1) Include a quote in a snarky article on Sunday. 2) In another snarky article on Wednesday twist that quote to fit whatever angle your snark requires, accuracy be damned. 3)??? 4)Profit (I guess).
It’s difficult to slog through these poisonous pixels when you’re an avid Cubs fan on the hunt for news. There are some writers who don’t feel the need to KLaw it up – I’m partial to John Arguello and the other contributors at Cub’s Den, and CSN Chicago usually has relatively insightful, relatively snark-free coverage. But, for the most part, coverage of this team is unfailingly negative and acerbic and, perhaps worst, gleefully so. If the stereotype of the Cubs fan is the “lovable loser,” then Cubs media has readily assumed the mantle of “hate-able hater.”
I get that the point these days is pushing pixels and page views and that controversy is superior to accuracy in accomplishing those goals, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to veer into downright dishonesty. In publishing these two articles and twisting these quotes in such a blatent and arrogant way, that’s where I feel Gordon Wittenmeyer has gone.
What is to be done about it? Nothing, I suppose. I could call for a boycott of the Sun-Times, which I’m sure all one or two of my regular readers will help me with, but I don’t see much good coming out of that (or much of anything, for that matter…). There are writers who are so unfailingly troll-ish that I will never link to or mention them, but Wittenmeyer is…mostly harmless. I guess that is the real goal – identify the media that is mostly harmless and try to keep them so. Whenever you read something that seems written to elicit controversy, remember that it probably was. Whenever you see the same questions answered over and over again, remember that they probably don’t have answers to any other questions. And if you hear or read a lie, remember that it was probably told on purpose – and then remember that the next time you read or hear from that person.