The comments about running down cyclists that Tony Kornheiser made last week first bubbled up to former pro cyclist and Versus commentator Bob Roll, who does a good job of pointing out that cyclists are people - parents, friends, teachers - who are taking on many of the problems of modern life. From there it was a short jump to Bob Roll's friend Lance Armstrong, who tweeted
Listening to Tony Kornheiser's comments/rant on ESPN radio re: cyclists. Disgusting, ignorant, foolish. What a complete f-ing idiot.
Tony Kornheiser on cyclists on the road, "run 'em down". Really? Big mistake, Tony.
Meanwhile, ESPN980 seemed glad for the attention
Hoping to be a Trending Topic Worldwide today, keep your fingers crossed...
Which led Lance Armstrong to respond, accurately,
How douchebags apologize...
Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post's Sports Bog took Tony Kornheiser's side, with the "it's just a joke" defense, accusing Lance Armstrong of foaming at the mouth, and even took a swipe at yours truly.Perhaps Steinberg was scared of meeting Dave McKenna's fate. I mean the sports news business is a small world, best not to offend one who can get people hired and fired, right?
I mean, he's been saying things like this for years and years, way before bloggers decided that radio transcription was an acceptable pastime.
This isn't like squatting on someone else's land. It doesn't become OK if you do it long enough. How many years do I have to not pay my taxes before it becomes OK? (Note to IRS: I always pay my taxes).
If you listen, you also realize that he's playing the character of a crotchety old man
Anyway ESPN980 must've thought there was something wrong with what Tony said, because they took the podcast down. And Tony must've thought it was wrong since he told Lance Armstrong he was sorry.
Just off the phone w/ Tony Kornheiser who's very sorry 4 his comments re: cyclists. Going on the show 2morrow 2 discuss this w/ him.
To me this is all about a relationship. It's bikes and cars. Both will be here forever. Awareness needs to exist as well as mutual respect.
Well put. I look forward to tomorrow's show.
The thing is, I'm probably not as angry as others. I get that it's meant to be a joke. I get that it's part of the character Tony Kornheiser that Tony Kornheiser plays on the radio. That's why I didn't really respond when I originally put it up, because I knew it was intentionally ignorant. And I know how hard it must be to be entertaining on the radio (live without writers) for an hour and a half everyday. If you add the character with the long, unscripted format you're bound to put your foot in your mouth at times. Not that I feel sympathy for him. You live by the unscripted offensive character, you die by it. I don't think Tony Kornheiser wants people to run cyclists over or that he thinks it's funny or acceptable for others to do it. But still, that doesn't mean it's all OK.
While Tony is playing a character, just like Stephen Colbert does, his is not played as the ridiculous caricature that Colbert's is. He's not playing the fool who confidently espouses his wrong-headed philosophy, while everyone laughs at how crazy he sounds, like Archie Bunker. A character like that can get away with almost anything, because the joke is always on that character. He instead plays the misanthrope who speaks his mind because he doesn't care about politeness or political correctness - like John Becker. That character's humor lies in that he says what everyone thinks, but what no one will say. "Others think like I do, and it's OK to feel this way." The joke is on the people obsessed with politeness.
That's what's bothersome about this. There are people that think this way. That cyclists don't belong in the road. That it's only the law that prevents them from running cyclists down. That maybe if they bump them or intimidate them a little, they can teach them a lesson. And when they hear Tony Kornheiser (the character) say this, they feel slightly more validated in their feelings. "Others think like I do, and it's OK to feel this way." And that's disturbing.
Also, Kornheiser is not only the guy playing the character, he's also the guy writing for the character - again unlike Colbert. So one has to wonder how far from TK the person is TK the character. Maybe he doesn't want cyclists run over, but I wouldn't be surprised if he felt like roads were for cars.
It doesn't help that the segment wasn't funny. And I don't mean that it was offensive. I mean it wasn't ha-ha funny. Back when I did stand-up, I'd watch others with their script and mark it up for them and they'd do the same for me. We'd put hash marks at the "laugh points." One where someone should laugh, and two (or three if people went crazy) where they actually did. I count five "laugh points", only one of which would get two hashes. That's over 8 minutes. We used to say if you don't have 6 per minute, you need to punch it up - or dump the bit. So if it was meant to be a joke, it failed miserably.
But, if Kornheiser apologizes, the matter will be closed in my mind. Of course, it ain't an apology if you do it again. So he'll have to mean it.
On a personal note, yesterday the blog got three times as many hits as it has ever gotten in one day - and a lot of places aren't even linking here.