Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 11.36.40 AMI’ve always kind of liked Bob Ford, so I’ll go easy here.

In the Inquirer on Friday, Ford wrote about Riley Cooper and why the controversy this summer couldn’t have happened without the help of friends and this website:

In the interim, a lot of things happened. The video made its way from the phone of a young lady who was hanging on the periphery of the action that evening and into the hands of some high-quality friends who eventually thought they would like to make some money by messing up someone else’s life.

The argument can be made that Cooper messed up his own life with his actions, and that is beyond debate, but the denouement couldn’t have taken place without the help of some dirtbags seeking fortune they hadn’t earned and a website willing to trade a little money for a lot of attention. You are free to pick out the villain of your choosing, but there aren’t any heroes in this little story.

I am so baffled by this reaction for so many reasons.

1) It’s worrisome to me that a longtime reporter at a major newspaper would disparage the common folk for running to the media (I use that term since the video was offered to many outlets) when they witnessed – and recorded – what was undoubtedly a newsworthy event– a professional football player dropping nigger in the middle of a crowd on the field he plays on. The media wouldn’t be able to function without eyewitness accounts and tips. And these people weren’t friends… they were in the vicinity of Cooper at the concert and they saw something noteworthy, hateful and mean.

2) It’s also absurd to me that a longtime reporter would disparage a website – in this case: me – for seeking out a newsworthy video and posting it. From now on I’ll just assume that every time the Inquirer discovers and breaks a story, Ford has a problem with it. The paper will be the villain for drawing attention to an unfortunate incident.

3) Willing to trade a little money for a lot of attention. This continues to be the reaction to the Cooper thing that is most puzzling to me. I get why some – roughly 10% – of Eagles fans had a problem with me, a fan, paying for and posting something that was well beyond tongue-in-cheek snark and actually damaging to a local player and team (never mind the fact that Cooper had a career year and just signed a $25 million contract). I think they’re wrong and, given the chance, would’ve done the exact same thing. But I get it. Some people can’t hold dichotomous views. They can’t separate the intangible nature of being a sports fan from the real world. That’s cool. But how does Ford, someone who is paid by a (dying) business to comment and report on the world, write that sentence with any sort of a negative connotation and follow with “the villain of your choosing”? I don’t pay any writers (yet). I don’t have people out in the world as my eyes and ears. I see literally no difference between paying for a photo or video that already exists and paying a photographer, proactively, to take that photo or video. It’s a different world, one in which people like Ford aren’t comfortable. It’s a world where I can sit back and wait until something happens and then decide if it’s worth paying to cover. It’s smart business. It makes total fucking sense. I paid $150 to break a national story. Willing to trade a little money for a lot of attention? No shit. Somewhere, a business professor is concerned that Ford doesn’t see the merit in this sort of thing. Ford’s bosses wish they could figure out how to operate that efficiently. Knowing what would happen, they would’ve paid a videographer $5,000 to show up and get the video. I probably lean a little left, but I hate the idea that there’s something wrong with making a no-brainer decision like that. If it was a nonsensical TMZ thing where a guy’s drunk at a bar doing nothing wrong? Fine. There would be plenty of room for criticism. But you won’t find a media outlet or reporter who could realistically argue that something like the Cooper thing wasn’t worth covering. Some are just too weirdly liberal to understand Business 101.

Keep up the good work, Bob.