Kornheiser-Gate has provided us with some needed buzz in August. And in a washingtonpost.com chat yesterday, Paul Farhi spoke out on his criticism of Tony Kornheiser’s MNF debut. Getting straight to the point, Farhi opened his chat with this:
Farhi: Greetings, all, and welcome back to “our thing” (as they say on “The Sopranos”). It hasn’t exactly been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone. To bore you with the lowlights: I wrote a (rather negative) critique of Tony Kornheiser’s debut on “Monday Night Football” in the Style section last Tuesday, and Tony took a couple of pokes back at me (“two-bit weasel slug,” “putz,” etc.). This being slow-news August, and sportswriters needing lives (I guess), the point/counter-point became newsworthy (or maybe just “blog-worthy,” a much lower standard). Two points to get outta the way upfront: 1) No, I’m not mad at Tony or insulted; I think his comments were amusing, really; and 2) stop with the emails, Tony fans — I’m not “jealous” on his success (as if I had only played my cards right, I’d be sitting in the MNF booth right now. Not.) Anyway, it’s been a fun ride; now I’d like to get off…:
Seems no one read his opening. The chat was peppered with questions on Kornheiser and even with a few insults from some diehards (“a two-bit weasel slug”, really?) Read the full chat for all of the Kornheiser mentions, but we give you the highlights here:
Alexandria, Va.: Hi Mr. Farhi — I wanted to let you know that I am a huge Tony Kornheiser fan, and last week, as I watched his debut on MNF, I felt queazy for him — wanting to go and give him a hug — he wasn’t the Tony we know and love — he was very tepid and polite and respectful (not Kornheiser qualities) — and you were right to point it out — hopefully as the weeks progress the real Tony will come out of his shell.
PF: Yes. Exactly what I tried to say last week.
Waterford, N.Y.: Mr. Farhi, was it your intention to be harder on Tony Kornheiser because he’s with The Washington Post to help the paper’s credibility, or are you really a two-bit weasel slug crying for attention?
PF: Well, here’s the thing: Writing a review of a colleague was/is a no-win situation. If I went easy on Tony, people would say I was in the tank. If I went too hard, people would say I was trying to hard to seem “independent.” So–and you may not believe this–I tried to play the honesty card and just call it as I saw it. Sue me.
Richmond, Va.: So, are you checking any dark alleys you pass for Kornheiser, lying in wait? Seriously, have you spoken to him since the review?
PF: I haven’t talked to him in weeks, maybe months. I called him for an interview for a story I wrote the day of his MNF debut but still haven’t gotten a call back. I guess I shouldn’t be holding my breath now.
Arlington, Va.: Did Tony Kornhieser steal your lunch at work? What DID he do to you to make you want to rip him so badly?
PF: Again, you may not believe this, but I LIKE Tony.
Washington, D.C.: The Post restaurant critic waits a month before trying a new restaurant and then visits multiple times. Didn’t Tony (and others) deserve similar “exhibition” time? Or is the world too impatient for that. I don’t necessarily disagree with you but I think you need to revisit Tony after 3-4 weeks of regular season football.
PF: No. Not at all. Yes, the tradition in restaurant reviewing is to give the place some time to work out its kinks. But the tradition in theater reviewing is to show up on opening night.
Dear Mr.Weasel Slug: Boy, was I disappointed to see that Mr.Tony could not take even mild criticisim such as you dispensed. …
PF: Weird, ain’t it?
Washington, D.C.: Do you think part of the backlash on the Kornheiser thing has to do with him having received mostly positive reviews from other sources?
PF: Yeah, he mostly ignored that, didn’t he? I think it was two things: 1) it was his own paper coming down on him; and 2) the amazing notion (to him) that someone, somewhere wouldn’t tell him how fabulous he is every single minute…Btw, he also went after Mike Golic of ESPN radio, who gave Tony a so-so review.
And finally the closing remarks:
PF: Folks, thanks for the onslaught of questions, Tony-related and otherwise. I’ve got to get back to important business now (i.e., have lunch). But let’s do it again in two weeks, same time and channel. By then, I will have returned to my normal one-bit weasel status, and we can get back to regular programming. Catch you then. In the meantime, regards to all….Paul.