Is Kornheiser Mr. Run Amok?

Deborah Howell weighs in on the Kornheiser v. Farhi debate, and–like most everyone else at this point–she takes Farhi’s side.

    Farhi’s advice to Kornheiser was perfect: “Tony, grow up.”

    And if he can’t, he needs to go stand in the corner and calm himself.

Howell makes an interesting point in her column: Kornheiser probably felt okay taking Farhi to task because, as a Big Man On Campus across several media platforms, “the truth is that he’s not really under anyone’s control but his own.”

(The NYT’s David Carr agrees, saying that Kornheiser “is living the dream of modern American journalism, having gone multiplatform long before being multiplatform was cool — or even a catchphrase.”)

Howell also gets Kornheiser, Farhi and Len Downie to chime in:

    Kornheiser said he knows he needs a thicker skin, “like Wilbon’s. I feel terrible about the whole thing. A lot of people said I was good. This was by far the worst and it hurt most of all because it was in the paper I’ve worked at for 27 years. If it had been somewhere else, I would have been mad. But it happened in my own newspaper and I was hurt.” He said he “never for a second” questioned that Farhi had the right to critique his debut. Kornheiser said that his radio remarks were “meant to be deliberately over the top to be entertaining. In print it looks a lot worse than it sounded on radio because you don’t hear the inflection.”

    Farhi was “amused” by Kornheiser’s comments and said he is not offended: “Bashing people has been Tony’s stock in trade for 30 years. So he gets a taste of his own medicine and he explodes. It’s ironic.” Executive Editor Len Downie said, “Just as Paul Farhi had the prerogative to review Tony’s performance, Tony has the freedom as an opinion columnist and a television personality and commentator to express his own views.”

See what Bryan Curtis thought of Kornheiser.

Farhi also appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources”:

    KURTZ: Was it a tough assignment to review a guy who’s been at the paper for 25 years and is a pretty popular columnist?

    FARHI: Yes. It’s, you know, one of those darned if you do or darned if you don’t kind of assignments. I could go really, really tough on him and, you know, just to prove my independence and my manhood, or I could go soft on him, because he’s a colleague.

    KURTZ: What would people have said if you had given him this absolute rave review and said he was — walked on water?

    FARHI: Well, you know, the best way to play it is to play it as honestly as you can is and sort of set aside the personal aspects of it, the professional relationship, and just give it, as you would anybody. And that’s the assignment that was given to me. Just review him as a guy who’s on “Monday Night Football” like any guy on “Monday Night Football”.

The Extreme-ness says “Farhi’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”

David Carr tells an interesting story from his time at the Washington City Paper:

    When I was the editor of Washington City Paper, the weekly alternative paper had — and still has — a sports column by Dave McKenna, who also had a $75-a-week gig covering horse racing for The Washington Post. In 1998, he made a glancing reference to Mr. Kornheiser in his City Paper column. Mr. McKenna subsequently encountered Mr. Kornheiser at the holiday party for the Post’s sports department.

    “He jumped up from his table, and said, ‘We got to talk,’ “Mr. McKenna recounted. “I thought he was joking because I had always thought he was this funny guy on the radio. But he took me in the hallway and said, ‘You will never work for a real newspaper’ and then he opens his jacket and pulls out a copy of the column that had all this magic marker on it and writing in the margins.”

    “My jaw just dropped,” Mr. McKenna continued. “His face turned orange while he was yelling at me and I thought, ‘Wait till my friends hear about this.’ This really famous funny guy seemed like he was going crazy.”

    But Mr. Kornheiser was serious. The next time Mr. McKenna wrote about Mr. Kornheiser was in 2000, upon the retirement of local sports talker Ken Beatrice, an event that was covered with a great deal of hagiography in The Washington Post. But Mr. McKenna noted that back in 1981, Mr. Kornheiser, then a reporter, had written a savage takedown of Mr. Beatrice, causing him a considerable amount of personal pain.

    Mr. McKenna was summoned to the office of George Solomon, then the assistant managing editor for sports, and told he was through working for The Post. “He was very nice about it, but said he had a department to run,” Mr. McKenna said.

Relive all of the magic by watching Kornheiser’s second outing tonight on Monday Night Football.

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