Calling a Flagrant 2 foul on Mark Cuban
If you follow NBA basketball, you will know that a flagrant 2 foul is called when a player appears to intentionally hurt a player, or for similar bad behaviour. Mark Cuban is known for his Dallas Mavericks’ ownership, and his blog (“Blog Maverick”) is very well read. On Thursday he inserted himself into the firing by CBS of Don Imus, and Mr. Cuban didn’t, shall we say, add to the discussion with this post. Here are some excerpts:
“Don Imus got fired. Dumb insensitive comments.
Not only was his firing the end of his show and employment, it was a tombstone for independent thinking in mainstream media. When ABC fired Bill Maher and cancelled his show Politically Incorrect, for his agreeing with a guests’ comments about terrorists it was merely a warning shot. We were being warned that when confronted with controversy big companies run away. Was there really much doubt that the owner of ABC, in this case Disney, which may well perceive itself as the most virginal brand in the world would cancel the show ?
When Imus’s comments became the media’s solution to the hole created by the resolution of Danny Lynn’s paternity it reached a fatal level of ubiquitous public awareness One look at the stakeholders in his show and it was obvious what his fate would be.
If you have a live show on a TV network, Its not good to have a brain fart during a slow news week.”
Mr. Cuban appears to miss that Don Imus got the gun for apparent bigotry. It is one of the litmus tests in U.S. media and politics. And rightfully so. Senator Joe Biden’s Presidential Campaign ended the day he referred to Senator Barack Obama as “clean”. Imus went alot farther; and several key sponsors pulled their ads from the show as they didn’t want their brand associated with a senile idiot, prone to phrases that haven’t been used in public for decades.
This wasn’t about “independent thinking”, and Imus isn’t a tenured prof on a university campus in any event. Rush Limbaugh and a whole host of folks demonstrate every day that U.S. radio is filled with “independent” (if not wacky) thinkers.
When we saw Imus’ clip at the office on YouTube, we all agreed that he was “done”. That vehicles such as YouTube hastened Imus’ ultimate exit from the talk radio corps must make this that much harder for Mr. Cuban to stomach. Shame on MSNBC and CBS for needing to do the two step: start with a suspension first and then gauge the reaction of their sponsors before pulling the trigger. But it might have been a function of the general manager not wanting to fire the guy before checking with the suits at General Electric that they wouldn’t miss the US$20MM of annual ad revenue.
Sponsors have every reason to move their ad dollars around, just as venture capitalists or venture debt players have the right to not put capital into a story that isn’t right for them. That’s the wonderful world of business, and Mr. Cuban should revel in that.
Making this a story about Anna Nicole Smith suggests to me that Mr. Cuban had – at best – his own senile moment last week, or perhaps his approach of always being against “the man” or “monolithic institutions” came through once again. Or maybe he broke the cardinal rule and just blogged after a long, liquid lunch? But to leap to the conclusion that Imus attracted a horde of media last week solely to fill some hole in the programming schedule belies a lack of appreciation for the mood of his nation, which was supposedly one of Mr. Cuban’s special abilities.
Whatever the reason, Mr. Cuban’s deserves an immediate trip to the locker room, a hefty fine and a suspension by the referee from at least the next game (that’s what you get for a Flagrant 2).
In the meantime, we’ve fired him from our list of “favourite blogs”.