As we discussed on our critically-acclaimed podcast last night, the murder-suicide involving Jovan Belcher speaks for itself. It’s a terrible tragedy. Unfortunately, its secondary legacy will be to further enable the Faux-Outrage Police to deputize themselves to patrol the airwaves and internet drumming up mock-disgust at others’ perceived failure to be outraged enough, or sad enough, or sensitive enough, or whatever other emotion the Faux-Outrage Police dictate that we feel.
Last night our discussion was about Seth Rorabaugh of the Post Gazette’s Empty Netters blog taking great offense that ESPN described Adam Schefter as “ESPN Insider Adam Schefter” when Schefter was reporting on the breaking news out of Kansas City. This morning, Richard Deitsch of SI.com upped the Indignant-Ante to infinity by devoting over 3,000 words to chronicling the supposed failures of various sports media entities to devote a Deitsch-approved amount of attention to the situation in Kansas City.
|Richard Deitsch, mid-faux-outrage|
He believes (or pretends to believe) that the CBS NFL Today pregame show “disgraced itself” on Sunday because it led off its morning show with — GASP! — an advertisement for Garmin GPS. How horrific. Next thing you know, SI.com is going to devote prime real-estate on its webpage to advertising.
|OH THE HUMANITY!|
Deitsch writes that CBS compounded its failure to exhibit “proper sobriety” in this unprecedented situation by waiting an additional five minutes to even mention the Belcher murder-suicide. He is apoplectic that CBS only gave a “90-second recap” of the actual news story before interviewing Chiefs chairman Lamar Hunt and then discussing the NFL’s decision to play the game as scheduled. Deitsch’s crocodile tears reach a full boil when later in the program CBS aired a 5-minute segment featuring a Victoria’s Secret model picking NFL games, as is apparently an annual tradition at CBS. Finally, he turns somber when noting that CBS did not show a “graphic to commemorate the life of Kasandra Perkins” (the victim), before declaring: “It was abysmal television and it left me disgusted as a viewer.”
|“Shannon, your thoughts on gun control?”|
Deitsch then itemizes his disgust with many other media outlets, including echoing a critique made by Damon Hack of the Golf Channel that the NFL Network was out of line when, after the tragedy, it may have aired a pre-taped segment in which Matt Millen told viewers how Peyton Manning “kills people” with the play action pass. I can only assume that if Deitsch covered politics, he’d be complaining that the phrase “fiscal cliff” is insensitive to victims of cliffs.
|Lindsey Graham, you apologize to this goat right now!|
The notion peddled by Deitsch that there is some mandatory amount of sensitivity that the media must display and that we should uniformly be outraged and disgusted when the media fails to hit Deitsch’s contrived and amorphous baseline is more offensive than any of CBS’s alleged transgressions. What tragedies count? How long should we be sad for? When is it OK to talk about football again? Do I hate the victims if I buy a Garmin GPS? Was it insensitive to have Cam Newton in your fantasy football lineup yesterday against the Chiefs?
Deitsch, Rorabaugh, and so many others have turned tragedies into a platform to express pretend-outrage about things they aren’t that outraged about and aren’t likely going to do anything to prevent (does #Kony2012 ring a bell?). It’s nothing more than jockeying for the highest seat on the highest horse, not because you care about horses, but because you like sitting on them.
On the other hand, some of us can understand that what happened in Kansas City is a tragedy, but we still want to watch and hear about football. We’re not offended if a football show uses its platform to discuss sensitive issues. But we’re also not offended if an NFL pregame show with Bill Cowher and Shannon Sharpe on it doesn’t touch on domestic violence or mental illness issues with Deitsch-approved tact.
Finally, it’s worth noting that while Rorabaugh took offense to what he saw as ESPN’s shameless self-promotion, Deitsch actually lauded ESPN for striking the “appropriate somber note.” It just goes to show that even when the Faux-Outrage Police disagree about some things, they always agree about one thing: they’re outraged.