Yes! One-sided media fight! Excellent.
A while back, after I made a comment about David Murphy’s Daily News Live smuggery, someone who knew Murph told me that he was a "meathead masquerading as an intellectual." Which is the worst kind of intellectual. From that point forward, I viewed all of Murphy’s articles and blog posts through that lens. Still, I often found his pithy thoughts, especially those on High Cheese, to be interesting and somewhat humorous in that I’m trying too hard but I’m usually able to hit the mark sort of way. His stuff is different from the 900 other Phillies beat writers, so it’s a breath of fresh, privileged air.
But Murph likes himself. A lot.
So, now, he’s launched his own blog – here comes the freebie link from Philly’s best* – RebelButter.com. And, naturally, it only took him until his seventh post to lambaste Mike Missanelli, a Philly Media Network colleague.
We use the term “colleague” loosely. Missanelli writes a weekly column in the Inquirer, and undoubtedly doesn’t leave his home to do so. Murph is a Phillies beat writer for the Daily News. They certainly don’t “work together,” and they might not even know each other, but their paychecks come from the same place (for those who prefer to watch the puppets instead of checking out the strings, the Inquirer and Daily News are owned by the same company). As such, Murph v. Miss joins Murph v. Gonzo, Bowen v. McLane, and Seravalli’s lousy sources v. Carchidi’s seemingly good ones in the League of Unfortunate Adversaries.*
*For realsies, the last thing Philly.com and Co. needs is more intracompany feuds. One (both?) of their papers is (are?) dying, their website is lousy, and their tablet program (which they keep pushing– on sale today for $89!) is an unmitigated disaster. Apparently, they have only sold through half of their 5,000 trial tablets, and their entire test has been plagued by faulty devices, buggy apps and lousy customer service. Shouldn’t there be an editor somewhere saying “Hey! Stop critiquing each other… you leave that to Crossing Broad!”?
In taking apart Missanelli’s column (which appeared in yesterday’s Inquirer), Murph attacked “the writer," passively calling him an ass [indirectly] and a “novice writer,” among other not-so-friendly chides.
I highlighted some, um, highlights from Murph’s lecture “workshop," providing some of my own feedback on his cheesy prose, where necessary.
Give it a little jump.
All excerpts from RebelButter.com:
Some of the most important lessons in my journey occurred during the fiction work shops I took during my junior and senior years in college. I would write a short story, distribute it to the rest of the workshop participants, and then listen to everybody assail my work. Absorbing that criticism was almost as difficult as it was important. Churchill once wrote, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
Well, let's do that.
I have a certain amount of respect for a guy like Mike Missanelli. It takes courage to engage in a public endeavor that requires a skill set that you might not possess. In this case, the endeavor is writing, and the skill set is the ability to think critically and express those thoughts in a clear, effective manner. I don’t think I would ever host a radio show because of a fear of making an ass out of myself. Mr. Missanelli clearly does not have that fear.
Not to defend Missanelli too staunchly – because he does have a habit of writing unsubstantiated claims that are much easier to get away with during a four hour radio show than they are in print (trust me) – but Murph is misinformed and seems to have the same bad habit mentioned above. Missanelli graduated from law school, has a journalism degree, and spent 10 years as an Inquirer reporter before he was ever on the radio. He was also the editor of “The Fan,” a Philly sports magazine that existed in the late-nineties. He probably does possess the skill set required for writing. Just a guess.
One of the founding premises of this blog holds that there is an unhealthy state of things in today’s public discourse, with opinions built upon faulty premises and intellectual dishonesty masquerading as fact, so we feel compelled to help out Mr. Missanelli by work-shopping his most recent effort with the hope that it results in future efforts that are more constructive. I find such efforts worthwhile in my own development as a writer, which is why I feel inclined to pay it forward.
Oh the subtle digs are so thick and juicy. David Murphy is around 30-years-old and a beat writer for a dying paper, one that routinely pushes the boundaries of tabloid journalism. He’s not some wise, old sage who possesses knowledge far greater than most men. Someone should tell him that.
What’s more, he’s talking about a sports column– not politics, religion or health. Sports. Using phrases like “unhealthy state… in today’s public discourse” and “intellectual dishonesty” in talking about an article on NFL tight ends is as lame and self-serving as it is offensive. It will tickle the grundel of Internet nerds and SABR geeks, but, as is the case with most articles that aim to serve self and take way too seriously society's escapes, Murph will just bore the 99% of us who appreciate a healthy sports debate.
[Missanelli] “With the New England Patriots in town on Sunday afternoon, we have never been more obsessed with the football term tight end.”
WORKSHOP CRITIQUE: We can only assume that the writer is either using the royal “we” to refer to himself in the plural, or that he has a mouse or some other small rodent in his pocket, because “we” certainly does not refer to his entire readership. Personally, I am far more obsessed with the football terms “illegal touching,” “gap control,” and “encroachment.”
Poetic license here, Dave. Remember– sports column.
[Missanelli] “But never does tight end come into more serious dichotomy than when it involves the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, where one team uses the position like Yo-Yo Ma does the cello, and the other team seems to get all tangled up in the strings. I have a dictionary at home. It’s an unconventional book, not available in stores, in that it says on the red linen cover Missanelli’s New Collegiate Dictionary instead of Webster’s, but it defines the term tight end in this way: a position the Philadelphia Eagles can’t stop.”
WORKSHOP CRITIQUE: I have a dictionary at home too. It’s the actual Dictionary. And my Dictionary, which, admittedly, is peer-reviewed and not subject to the whims of an individual person, defines ”dichotomy” as referring to a subdivision of two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups. In other words, the actual Dictionary defines the word as something other than what the writer uses it to mean in the above paragraph. First, as we’ve already pointed out, there is nothing dichotomous about the word “tight end.” A term like “blocking end” might be contrued as dichotomous, as it would refer to a pass catcher whose job is to block. But a tight end is simply an end that lines up tight, just like a wide receiver is a receiver who lines up wide. Second, there is nothing dichotomous about the situation the writer outlines in the above graf.
One of the Patriots’ offensive strengths is passing to tight ends, and one of the Eagles’ defensive weaknesses is stopping opposing tight ends. This is not a dichotomy. A dichotomy, by defintion, must exist within the same whole. The Eagles and the Patriots are two different wholes.
Murph needs to get out more. But I will point out that I have a dictionary, too (it’s called the Internet), and it tells me that Missanelli’s use of “dichotomy” does seem to work. He’s talking about the dichotomy between the Eagles’ offense and Patriots’ offense, specifically the differing ways the two teams use their tight ends.
Also, Murph misspelled construed and definition, if we’re going to pick nit.
The column continues, so feel free to peruse the remaining sections and chime in with your own helpful suggestions. Remember, this is a work-shop. Our goal is not to bash a novice writer. Our goal is to help him refine his piece in a constructive manner.
Some of the stuff on Murph's site actually isn’t half bad (you’re welcome for the plug, Dave), but the whole thing just says I’m better than you. Check out the description for the site, which claims to cover three categories: culture, media, and sports.
“False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing."
–Joseph de Maistre
Oh for fuck’s sake. Give Costas back his horse.
Of course, Murph is aware that his ramblings may catch the attention of his employer… who likely just sent a fat paycheck to “the writer” which he bashed.
The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of his employer, a company that he misguidedly hopes will avoid close scrutiny of the aforementioned ramblings.
Fingers crossed, Dave. Fingers. Crossed.
That’s all for now– ball’s in Missanelli’s court. I will continue to wish for a Kate Fagan v. Bob Cooney feud. Or Kate Fagan v. anyone, for that matter. Seriously, I’d watch her fight a medicine ball… preferably with Jello.