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June 16, 2008
by Ryan Hudson
As you no doubt know by now, Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights
, is not a fan of blogs, or of Deadspin's editor Will Leitch, as his now infamous confrontation with him on "Costas Now"
can attest. Well, this past Wednesday afternoon, Buzz appeared on a The Mike O'Meara Show, a nationally syndicated radio show broadcast locally here in Fairfax, VA. Buzz was on to talk books, but of the conversation started with blogs.
Mike: The real thing I'd like to get down to is this whole thing with, when you were on "Costas Now," and you were talking about blogs, and it's funny because you're talking about sports blogs and how you think a lot that's on there is dumbing us down, which I totally agree with. I have two attitudes about this, Buzz: one is, it comes with the territory, it's what we deal with now. But the other thing is: yes, it is dumbing people down and it is a spirit of meanness that you haven't seen for quite some time and it's, uh, it's cowardice, also. Ya know, I kinda love the fact that you were able to go off on this guy, I forgot - I don't even remember the name of his blog, but I really enjoyed that, when you were talking to him, because I think it's gotten a little out of hand, on the blogosphere.
Buzz: Well, I mean, I think it has. I mean, I have to say that, as I looked back on my appearance on "Costas," it was something of a psychoctic break, and um, my wife...
M: No, now see, I'm not going to beat you up on that, because...
B: ...my wife was ready to me in a sanitarium. (laughter)
M: I love it! It's refreshing! Cause he was full of S!
B: Well, ya know, I just felt he was.
M: He was! And ya know, and every now and then, when a snarky guy like that, ya know, gets on, and he's being his snarky, ya know, human-being-self that he likes to be, ya know, the fact is, it was refreshing. And I think that's it. You probably got that vibe from the audience. I think at first they were shocked, but then they backed you in the end, don't ya think?
B: Yeah, I mean, I think the audience was with me, and ya know, being a human being, that kinda pumped me up more. And look: in hindsight, should I have used the s-word and should I have come on so strong? I'm not so sure, because subsumed the point I was trying to make, but I'll tell you this: I believed every word of it, uh, Will Leitch, up until about this week, was running Deadspin, he's now going to New York Magazine to write -- he's a talented guy...
M: He's a smart guy. I mean, he seemed like a smart guy.
B: ...that blog, like many, is just dedicated to maliciousness and cruelty and snarkiness and anything goes, and I just don't think it's right -- I don't think it's right to do it to radio personalities, I don't think it's right to do it to sports figures as well. It's one thing, I'm not against the First Amendment, but I am against profaneness - I'm against ridiculous, profane, sexual sophomorism, which most of the comments on Deadspin are, and on many of the blogs. I think many of the blogs are just terribly written. I mean, people just because of the power of the 'net, think all you have to do is sit in front of a computer and keyboard and just type. Well that's not writing! That's vomiting. And, uh, ya know, there are some good blogs out there, I've seen them in the world of sports, particularly blogs thats are sorta dedicated to a single source of information, like, there's one here on the Phillies called the Beer Leaguer; there's one on the Minnesota Timberwolves -- they're good blogs. And these are guys who are trying to do a good job, but most of these people are frankly, it's the American Idol syndrome: they're hoping and praying to get discovered. I mean, blogging has become almost like the sort of hotel-coffe-shop where Marilyn Monroe was discovered, and they think they're very, very clever and very, very funny and I got news for them - they're not clever, they're not funny, and they're cowards...
M: There ya go. Now there's the word. (Ding ding ding!) You didn't say it...I was waiting for you to say that.
B: Well they are!
M: And let me give you the example of why I agree with you with this, and you can use the example with e-mail: you won't call someone on the phone when you want to give them certain news, but you'll certainly have no problem e-mailing them, because you are hiding behind the keyboard. It is the land of the coward. It really is.
B: And in the case of many of the bloggers, ya know, the blog comments, they're hiding behind fake names. Ya know, people said I acted like the worst kind of blogger, but with one big difference: I wasn't hiding behind anything.
B: I mean, everyone knew who I was. I have a website, my e-mail is public, people can say to me whatever they want...
From there, the interview transitioned into how no one knows what reporting is anymore, and the overall "dumbing down of America," in everything from sports columnists to politics, even saying at one point that the fact that everyone now has "access" is a bad thing.
listen to the podcast of the whole thing here, go here and listen to the podcast (titled: "6-11-08 Seg 5- A Pulitzer Prize Winner") if you're so inclined.