Mr. Popularity

Paul Farhi writes up the tug-of-war taking place over Post sports columnist Tony Kornheiser.

    All of a sudden, the hottest, most sought-after franchise player in the sports world may be a guy who describes himself as “fat, bald and old.”

    Tony Kornheiser, the Washington Post columnist and ESPN yakker, has become the object of a bidding war among media companies, with deals worth millions of dollars — and the lineups of newspapers, TV and radio stations — hanging in the balance.

ESPN, XM radio, Sirius Radio, Bonneville International Corp., Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and, naturally, the Washington Post are all vying for Kornheiser’s attention and affection and Kornheiser says that “It’s causing me a lot of anxiety.”

Oh to only have such dilemmas…

If Kornheiser joins Monday Night Football, he could be paid almost $2 million (he would also have to, in true John Madden-style have to travel the country by bus, thanks to his fear of flying).

These various decisions and deliberations muddy Kornheiser’s current involvement with WTEM-AM; WTWP-AM and FM; The Post; and WRC-TV. Kornheiser hinted that a MNF gig might force him to take a leave of absence from the Post. And Post guidelines would also force Kornheiser to stop writing for the Post if he took a job with a Snyder-owned company, since he’d have a conflict of interest writing about a team who’s also paying him. Kurtz says that “The biggest loser in the Kornheiser sweepstakes could be WTEM, the sports talk station. Kornheiser so thoroughly dominates the station’s weekday programming that the station could almost be renamed WTK.”