I can't believe you would compare a coach refusing to do interviews to a free press. Morris is free to write anything he wants. Doesn't mean the coach has to give him access. It's a silly comparison.
Gregg Doyel can get ready for some ugly emails from South Carolina Gamecock fans. Here’s guessing he won’t care because Doyel’s a guy who lives for ugly emails and insults. He’s made a career out of it.
In his latest column, Doyel first tackles Ron Morris’ Penn State comment from a week ago. It seems he took it the same way I did last week (which might be the first time I’ve agreed with Doyel on anything as well as the first time I’d ever defended Morris):
“‘This,’ Morris said on the radio, ‘is how things like Penn State happen.’
Morris wasn’t saying a pedophile will strike South Carolina, or that Spurrier would allow a pedophile to run unchecked. Morris was saying, quite clearly, that it’s a bad idea for a coach to become too powerful at his school, just as Joe Paterno grew to be too powerful at Penn State. That’s what Morris meant.
But it was a bad analogy — wrong time, wrong situation — and Spurrier flipped.
And in the process, Spurrier is confirming Morris’ overall point.”
Doyel writes that Spurrier’s remark last week that good things are about to happen because he’s complaining and his bosses are complaining, too, suggests Morris might just lose his job. (We’ll pause for Gamecock fans to cheer.) Doyel doesn’t think that’s a good thing.
Regarding Morris’ comment, Doyel writes:
“If the people who run the State decide such a poorly chosen analogy cannot be made without repercussions, fine. I’m not telling the newspaper how to run its business, as long as it’s thinking for itself.
But if the State lets Steve Spurrier think for it? That’s a problem.
At this point, Spurrier looks worse than Morris. Spurrier is the parody of the thin-skinned football coach, the guy who’s so mad at a writer that he won’t talk to the writer — or to anyone else. Silly.
This isn’t the first time Spurrier has reacted so strongly to a critical columnist. He gave Orlando Sentinel columnist Larry Guest a similar cold shoulder in the 1990s. When it happens once, that says something about the coach and the columnist. When it happens twice, at two different schools in two different states?
It says something about Steve Spurrier.”
If you’re thinking to yourself that this piece doesn’t read like the tradition Doyel rabble-rouser, you’re right. It doesn’t. Instead of firing insults and barbs, Doyel simply makes a pretty good case for freedom of the press:
“Remember, this is what Spurrier said: ‘The University of South Carolina, our newspaper, we’re all going to get along better, which is what it’s all about.’
No, Steve. That’s not what it’s all about. Getting along? The media isn’t supposed to ‘get along’ with the people and powers they writes about. The media are supposed to write what they (reporters) know and what they (columnists) think, and readers are supposed to decide what to believe, and people like Steve Spurrier are supposed to coach their football teams.
This can’t happen, whatever is about to happen in South Carolina. Not if whatever happens is Steve Spurrier’s idea. He’s a hell of a football coach, one of the best I’ve ever seen. But he’s power-drunk if he thinks he can decide who does and does not write about his team.
What kind of coach thinks his power extends beyond the football field, beyond campus, all the way into the newsroom of the local newspaper?
One who has way too damn much power already.”
Which brings us back full circle to the analogy Morris tried so unsuccessfully to make in a radio interview last week.
But judging by the comments under Doyel’s story, many folks still don’t agree with his view of freedom of the press. That’s not surprising. We live in a country where Republicans watch Fox News and Democrats watch MSNBC just to have their own opinions validated. It’s a world of Maddows and Limbaughs in politics and team-based websites in sports that spin everything in favor of the hometown team because the people doing the writing are actually fans of the team they cover.
So maybe there’s no need for a free press anymore anyway. There’s clearly more money to be made in just telling people what they want to hear.
To which I say: Go Gators, Bulldogs, Wildcats, Tigers, Gamecocks, Volunteers, Commodores, Crimson Tide, Razorbacks, Tigers, Tigers, Rebels, Bulldogs and Aggies!