Journalism took a nut shot today. Allegedly.
According to a report by Dan Gross (who – by the way – is just hitting home runs this summer), the Eagles asked Comcast SportsNet to remove John Gonzalez from all team coverage. As Gross points out, Gonzo hasn’t said a word about the team on the website or Twitter.
Anyone who is familiar with Gonzo’s work, both his columns and former radio show on 97.5, knows that he liked to talk about the Eagles… and Andy Reid… a lot. Most of the time not in glowing terms.
Gross reached out to CSN for comment, and was told the following by the network’s spokeswoman, Maureen Quilter: [Philly.com]
“Comcast SportsNet and CSNPhilly.com have plenty of Eagles coverage with Ray Didinger and Reuben Frank on the digital side and Derrick Gunn on the TV side . . .. If we need John to write about the Eagles he will.
We talk with all the teams, including the Eagles, all the time. And as a good business practice, we don't share those conversations with the public."
Eagles spokesman Rob Zeigler said the team made no such request about Gonzo.
If the Eagles did indeed make that request, it is a very ballsy move on their part. They’re not fans of that whole freedom of speech thing, and this would be an all new low.
What’s worse, however, is if CSN honored that request. CSN already provides mostly sunny-side up coverage of local teams (example: Comcast owns the Flyers, too) and they are granted extraordinary access to the Eagles (I mean, how else would we get to see Shady McCoy giving D-Gunn celebratory butt slaps?). Catering to the one team that they don’t have any ownership ties or broadcasting rights with? Well, that’s not good.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a surprising request from the Eagles. Their skin isn’t exactly thick. Last season, they denied one local – often critical – radio personality a credential, telling him “he wasn’t a beat reporter.” Well, neither are half of the people in the press box. But most of them usually say nice things about the team… or at least don't have the freedom to bash them in a public setting, the way, say, a columnist would.
I’ll update this story if there is anything new to pass along.