Media Hacks Behaving Badly: Or, The Only Time I'll Ever Type the Name "Buzz Bissinger"

By now, you've probably heard about and possibly seen author/journalist Buzz Bissinger's profanity-laden harangue of Will Leitch of Deadspin fame. Go ahead, click on over to Deadspin. Every other sports-minded human being on Earth already did today. Go ahead. You know you want to.

Ok, you're back? Good. Will totally needs our slice of clickthrough traffic like Nick Saban needs your grandmother's social security check. Anyway, if you haven't seen the harangue, you can find it here on The Sporting Life, along with commentary by Spencer Hall, Chris Mottram and Dan Shanoff. Ok, go look. Warning, tons of profanity, none of it from the one blogger on the stage, ironically.

Ok, you're back? Good. Now, it's almost my duty as a sportsblogger to comment on this, this thing. I could quote Derrida and Baudrillard and talk about perspective creating reality, blah, blah, blah. I've got a philosophy degree and I'm not afraid to use it.

But I'm not. I'll only offer a few simple and hastily typed points. One, if you'd never heard of Buzz Bissinger before this, you're not alone. I guarantee you that at this point he was the least "famous" (whatever that means) person on that stage. That says a smidgen about Braylon Edwards, a dash about Bob Costas, and a whole lot about Will Leitch. Leitch got where he is by hard work and smarts. While some of us may criticize his endeavors on occasion, it's not a criticism rooted in motivation, but instead execution. A very respectful criticism. And even then the guy responds not by giving his critics the finger, but seriously reexamining his content. How can you not dig that?

I hated watching this whole thing because I read Friday Night Lights, the only work of Bissinger's that most people have ever heard of (sad, but true), and really liked it. It was truly Pulitzer class work.

But the poor guy didn't realize on this day that his profane ranting and rude refusal to even hear what his imagined adversary had to say was exactly what the best bloggers don't do. And it evidenced what many of us in the blogging world have long suspected: if all the newspaper editors took a busman's holiday (or didn't get HBO), the sportswriters would be just as lazy and crude as many of the worst bloggers. Assuming lazy and profane is bad. My mother has been trying to convince me of this truism for years with no discernible success. Frankly, some of the laziest and crudest people I've met have been sports journalists. So have some of the hardest working and damned coolest people. Essentialism, like a lot of other -isms, is deceiving that way.

You say poor Will Leitch? I say poor Buzz Bissinger. Frankly, HBO needed a moderately famous schmuck to come on and swear at a sportsblogger. Bissinger apparently answered the phone and didn't have anything better to do. Costas asked metaphorically who would take a stance against democracy. The answer is clear: the guy who has the most to lose from democracy. That paunchy, balding and Red Bull-swilling oligarch is Buzz Bissinger. Accept no substitutes! In the process he became a sad characiture who managed to make Braylon Edwards look erudite by simply insisting that Matt Leinart may not be that bad a guy. Braylon Edwards by the way came across, in my humble opinion, pretty well for a guy who doesn't blog and doesn't seem to have any friends who do, but nevertheless finds blogs interesting as entertainment.

There, I said it. This blog, like others, is entertainment. You found us out Bissinger! This site is not in fact ghostwritten by the lovechild of Tony Kornheiser and Furman Bisher! And I think our readers are thankful for that. If they wanted to know what you, Bisher and Mike Lupica think about any given topic, they know where to find you. The thing is, they're finding you in ever decreasing numbers. The Bissingers of the world would respond that this is evidence of the great devolution of society. This is quite ironic of course, given that Bissinger seems a little sketchy on the distinction between the thousands of people who comment on Deadspin (or the New York Times, for that matter) and the authors who actually write the content, and the fact that the first thing he did when the camera shined on his self righteous mug was to proclaim that Leitch, a man who he's probably never even set eyes on before "is full of s***". If that's what we're devolving away from, then I say good riddance. Talk about getting left behind.

Bissinger also seems to have missed out on the fact that it takes a lot of brains to pull off being a profane little punk. Henry Miller did it. Jack Kerouac did too. Dave Chappelle pulls it off flawlessly. Bissinger however, like the other sad MSM types who refuse to evolve, hasn't asked or offered anything more insightful than "Who, what, when, where, why and how?" since 1988. Too bad. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Buzz, chill out. We don't want your job. Frankly, as Spencer points out, we already have jobs and ours generally pay more than yours because we're all lawyers (except Doug Gillett, who's either a double-naught spy or a male stripper, I can't remember which. Either way, he probably makes more coin than the lawyers). In the end, Buzz Bissinger is going to fade back into semi-obscurity and Will Leitch is going to continue toward his eventual destiny of being the Rupert Murdoch of the sports blogosphere: shadowy, powerful and possessed of a cool Australian accent. Ok, I made that last part up. But again I say, don't cry for Will. Cry for Buzz Bissinger.

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