Burn, Infidels, Burn

Submitted by Brian on March 23rd, 2006 at 7:13 PM

Holy crap. On occasion sportsbloggers will level tenuously-supported accusations of plagarism at members of the MSM. Usually these amount to hot air. Sure, it might be suspicious that some dude came up with the same article idea you had a week after you posted yours, but there's no proof. And if it's a list, well... lists are lists. They're going to be ubiquitous, largely identical, and contain the same basic information about the selections. That's why lists are the ultimate weapon for lazy sportswriters.

The end result is a lot of indignation over nothing, a blogospheric speciality. However, once ESPN radio hosts start reading your material word for word on-air... um... yeah, that's proof. This happened to The M Zone: Colin Cowherd read most of an extensive post on-air and attributed it to (wait for it... wait for it...) "The Internet." This causes EDSBS to query:

Did Cowherd Steal MZone Material?

...which isn't even a question in this case. It's verbatim; there's audio on the site; case closed. This isn't the first time this has happened, either, if you believe Free Darko and their fatwa against the latest Simmons intern. The question is: why does ESPN have to be such a douche about it? One simple sentence from Cowherd ("I found this at The MZone, which is located at michiganzone.blogspot.com") would have caused purring instead of a further run at Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork, Inc. The consequences for ESPN? Probably not catastrophic.

The word "intern" probably holds the key to this entire situation. Cowherd takes words fed to him from his handlers, packages it up in annoying dumbjockinese, and speaks into a microphone. He was handed a sheet of paper of uncertain provenance and read from it. Some communications major from Kansas State hopped on the interwebs, found something, and dutifully fetched it. This happens elsewhere too: check this word-for-word ripoff of the entire thing on a (gasp) blog. Source cited:

(Originally posted on: THE BOARD...if you don't know, you better ask somebody)

The point? The error here -- from both Cowherd and the disreputable blog -- is one of omission, not comission. Someone at Cowherd's show found the material in his email or some message board. They didn't lift and steal intentionally. However, the Worldwide Leader has the resources to, I dunno, cut and paste a key phrase into Google to see if there's someone who should be credited... but why? We're just "the Internet" to them.

Weis joke? Fulmer joke? I can't decide

Should I go with the Fremen (blogs) - House Harkonnen (MSM) comparison here? No? Geekiness at a credibility-shattering level? Possible grounds for sterilization? Okay. I'll skip it. But I will reiterate my belief that one day the Shield Wall will be breached and the hordes of desert savages will replace the kind of sportswriting deader than the trees it comes on with something, I dunno, readable and edifying. And people who actually like sports will write about it and Colin Cowherd will get the Jennifer Connelly treatment. And in between there will be kickass ninja fights and Sting.

Update: Cowherd's response:


So... check on the theory. Also proof that Cowherd, not me, is the one who needs sterilization right quick. OMG ALL CAPS LOL.

Update II: It took all of an hour for the proprietor of the blog cited above to say this:

I had no idea this was originally posted here. A freind of mine sent it to me; I just assumed he had typed it. Rest assured I will be posting an apology later in the day. Once again; I am sorry. I know it comes across as bush league, but I really didn't know.

You are invited to compare and contrast.