We are joined by Colin Cowherd, the preeminent sports talker in all the land. On this podcast we discuss: Aaron Rodgers’ hamartia Why Colin succeeded after leaving ESPN What’s wrong with ESPN Political misalignment between media and fans Why younger sports talk personalities are struggling to find an audience
That was fantastic. (Speaking as someone who has never been a Cowherd fan, including from childhood experiences listening to him on the radio in his Portland local-market days. My opinion of him just ratcheted up.)
It’s so difficult to let criticism roll off you in the ways he talks about being productive for him and for sports journalists. In some ways — thinking back to the Napear piece, and some of what it said about elite codes, and how those who grow up in the right environments are well-versed in how to talk the talk, and in what you DON’T say -- maybe part of that “coding” doesn’t happen on a level of content or what to say, but in terms of an orientation toward criticism: one learns that one is supposed to tiptoe around it, to not be confrontational, to generally take it quite seriously when someone is upset with you. That creates quite an opportunity for people like Cowherd who are a little more freewheeling and who are able to come across as genuine even when it might spark blowback — because, as you say, audiences are hungry for that.
I know Ethan can't respond to this one, but do y'all think that's Kellerman he's referring to as Captain Safe Take at 24 minutesish?
This was a really good, thoughtful conversation about the business. Enjoyed it.
I found myself thinking about an equation that Ethan made that I think might not quite be true, and might b driving part of the push toward anti-opinionism.
On the show, Ethan (and Collin) basically said having a take was a kind of honesty, while stepping back from that was fake and inauthentic. I'm in my my 30s, the majority of my sports media consumption was in the ESPN embrace debate era, and that sort of commodified opinions in a particular way. It was so produced that even if you didn't literally know, it seemed like they were grabbing sides to take out of a booklet before it happened. It all felt contrived.
That is/was part of the appeal of Ethan's work all the way back to WarriorsWorld and the Warriors stuff even before that. Sure, there was opinion, but that wasn't the thrust, there was analysis and breakdown. There was authentic questioning and different perspective. And I wonder if this generation not interesting in being crushed on twitter does that in part because it was raised on a model where opinionists came off as perpetually phony.
PS I really hope you read my comment below and reply because I'd be fascinated to know what you thought, if anything, when Cowherd made that comment.
I very much enjoyed this discussion, but found myself disgusted at one point. When Cowherd pumped up fellow Fox commentators on the non-sports side of things, and merely described them as highly successful "opinionistas", there was no pushback from you, Ethan? Those people are not just putting forward opinons! They label themselves as journalists and news reporters, but they are blatant PROPAGANDISTS who have, for decades, pumped misinformation and lies to their audiences at the behest of a billionarire cabal headed by their benefactor Rupert Murdoch. The have brazenly lied about topics of crucial importance to the entire global population such as climate change (and a range of other crucial environmental issues), the drivers and consequences of ever-growing wealth inequality, and the validity of democratic elections in the US and abroad. I couldn't give two shits about controversial opinions in the sports commentary sphere - they add to the flavour - but when we give a free pass to people who openly lie about crucial topics that affect the lives of billions, I think a line has been crossed and those people should be labelled what they are - propagandists pushing the agend of the mega-rich.
Thank you, Ethan. I’ve been waiting for this since day one 😂
Okay but has anyone told you that you look like the guy who plays the guy who killed Versace?
This was solid. You guys gel well. "Populist snob", I'm stealing that one for my day-to-day convos.