by Ryan Meehan
Tuesday night I got to work and promptly logged into my Yahoo! account. Usually Yahoo!’s homepage is chock full of dumb stuff regarding celebrities, and usually the subject matter within the stories are either taken way out of context or the story itself is just ridiculous in the first place. I saw that there was a story about the ongoing mythical saga that is the Brent Musburger-Katherine Webb debacle, so I had to investigate further.
In case you aren’t aware of what transpired that started the controversy in the first place, ESPN announcer and broadcasting legend Brent Musburger made a comment regarding Alabama starting quarterback AJ McCarron’s girlfriend Katherine Webb. Webb is not only McCarron’s girlfriend, but she is also a beauty queen and Miss Alabama. If you missed it, Musburger called Webb “beautiful”. Herbstreit also chimed in saying that McCarron is doing “some great things in Tuscaloosa”.
And that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. This should have been overlooked and just goes to show you how overblown things get now that we have the ability to go back and look at the closed captioning transcript of everything that’s said on the air.
Here are just a few reasons why the media hype surrounding this “controversy” is more than just slightly off-kilter:
1) She does fit that description
No real shocker here, a beauty queen is in fact beautiful. If there’s any shock at all involving this matter, it’s that someone who carries an Alabama driver’s license is actually this good looking in the first place. If we’re going to start throwing announcers up against the wall for saying things that are correct, we’re going to end up with a bunch of guys in the booth who eat their own feces when they aren’t informing the viewers that the Patriots lead the NBA in seventh-down conversions amongst all American League teams.
Are we so afraid that someone is going to be offended by something that we’re now going to let them skip basic observations that they are pretty much forced to give in the first place? There isn’t a dude in America who can look at that woman and not think the same thing. There’s probably a lot of women that would do that too, and while some would have no problem saying it out loud like Musburger did there are just as many if not more who would think it in private. Margie Phelps from the Westboro Baptist Church would probably let Katherine Webb urinate in her mouth while “Seasons in the Abyss” by Slayer played in the background and she’d love every minute of it. Which proves my point that even the most soulless individual in the world can’t help but think she’s hot, and Musburger hit the brakes at “beautiful” when he could have gone a lot farther.
2) It’s not Musburger’s fault the cameras were showing her every time Alabama did something well, which was about every five air minutes
Brent is in control of what’s going on in the booth, not the control room. It’s his job to talk about what’s going on with the feed, and the feed was constantly showing shots of Webb. What was he supposed to do? We all watched the National Championship game…It was terrible. He had to say something because that’s the position the producer kept putting him in. If anybody should have been scrutinized by the media, it should have been the producer.
But even then, what was the producer supposed to do? Keep showing the Notre Dame sidelines hanging their heads in sorrow? You simply can’t continue a broadcast that is full of such negativity without having to balance the scales a little bit. Even people that take some sort of sick sadomasochistic pleasure in having to sit through an AA meeting or a VH1 made for TV movie have to watch footage of a puppy getting rescued every once in a while. They couldn’t have possibly shown anymore of No9tre Dame’s players reactions so the next step is to show the Alabama fans. And since Webb happened to be in a very important pocket of those fans, it was kind of a no brainer to show her.
Musburger was doing everything in his power to save what was essentially an unwatchable football game. Do you ever watch a college football game and it gets to be such a blowout of ridiculous proportions that they start showing shots of the cheerleaders; and the game is so horrible that you don’t mind? This is simply an extension of that. And I don’t want to hear about how it was early in the game either because Musburger isn’t a dumbass and he knew that game was over the third week of December.
3) She herself called the apology unnecessary on “The Today Show”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Anybody who feels offended by something leaves their house that morning with the intention of being offended. In this case, it doesn’t even get that far. After Musburger apologized to Webb, she went on the Today Show and said that although she appreciated the apology, it was unnecessary.
Did everybody read what I just typed there? The media wasn’t even able to get her to say that she didn’t appreciate the comments made about her, on the fucking Today Show. The one place in the entire world that is so chock full of overhyped and oversensationalized garbage that it makes all other news institutions which are also chock full of overhyped and oversensationalized look down to earth couldn’t even talk her into getting herself to believe that she was in fact offended by the comments.
AJ McCarron didn’t care about it either. When McCarron appeared on Waddle & Silvy on ESPN 1000 in Chicago Tuesday morning, he heard the playback of the track for the first time, and this is exactly what he said:
“I love those two guys, they’re always very helpful to me and giving me a lot of insight. I really do like them, but I’m going to have to tell Musburger he’s going to have to step back next time.”
Obviously if you listen to the audio of this interview, McCarron was being sarcastic. I know this because he would never let it rattle him to the point where he would call out Musburger, because it would likely affect the way NFL scouts view his ability to handle the pressure of an increasingly maniacal media presence. And it would be pretty much bordering on pure craziness if he were to actually believe that a 73 year old man would have leg up on a guy in perfect physical shape in his early twenties who just won the National Championship.
4) Musburger has done this before, and it actually led to a major career moment for the individual in question
During a 2005 Florida State-Miami football game, the sideline cameras quickly flashed to a group of female Florida State fans who were very close to the field. One extremely attractive woman in particular was featured, and Musburger joked “1,500 red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State”.
Does anybody remember who that woman was?
It was Jenn Sterger, who ended up becoming famous in her own right as a journalist before she received pictures of Brett Favre’s junk. Although Favre had no right to do such a thing and subject her to that image, it would be awfully difficult to argue that Musburger’s comments prevented her from having the career that she wanted in sports.
Now, for a PG broadcast that’s actually a pretty funny joke. And given what we just went over, it would be hard to argue that Sterger had been hurt by those comments. She probably loved it, and I’m sure her accountant these days wouldn’t take issue with it as she eventually had her own show on Versus for a while. Did it objectify her because of her looks? Probably…but in the end it turned out to be great for her career. You get a QP, you throw away a few seeds. Everything in this world can’t be perfect.
5) Musburger did it again Monday Night
This one is probably the biggest indication that this didn’t matter. Musburger made light of it again in a roundabout way on Monday Night, when he signed off after the Kansas-Baylor men’s basketball game.
“Once again, your final score, Kansas 61, Baylor 44. Coming up next, ‘SportsCenter.’ For Fran Franschilla and Holly Rowe, who was really smokin’ tonight, I want to say so long from Lawrence.”
Here again, you have to respect Musburger. He’s got a great sense of humor and he was CLEARLY making a joke here. And he made a great point, because even if ESPN wanted to discipline him they would look incredibly stupid for doing so as Brent did not specify whether or not Rowe’s looks or sideline reporting were what he considered to be “smokin'”.
If I want anybody to learn anything from reading this, it’s that sometimes the media attempts to make a story where there isn’t one. Since women’s rights are always a hot button issue, this gave the major online media outlets a great opportunity to jump on it. While it was a basic observation by a smart guy who’s obviously seen a lot of beautiful women in his life, there are some websites that are making it out to be as if he was sitting outside of an abortion clinic with a microphone in one hand and a telestrator in the other saying things like “Well Kirk, she’ll never be able to get that one back…”
Okay so maybe that’s an extreme example, but you understand where I’m going with this. In the age of digital media, in some instances we have become more focused on the stories between the real stories than the real issues themselves. A great example of this in politics would be whenever a president gives his State of the Union address and the media psychoanalyzes everything that the Speaker of the House and Vice President are doing behind him. With the way some of these roundtable politics shows are nowadays, the president could get up there and say “We’re just going to bomb the shit out of Norway tomorrow, just because we can!” and thirty minutes after the speech was over, you could very well have every talking head on cable news arguing about whether or not the vice president picked his nose. That’s where we’re headed.
And that’s why, right here on Sports Blog Movement, I am officially declaring this story dead. It’s over. There’s no reason to talk about it in any further detail, we have to take a stand and say there are some things that just aren’t important enough to discuss. Mainstream online media may have jumped the shark years ago, but if you were holding out any hope for it I’m saying that as of right now it’s become official.
And I refuse to apologize to the shark-jumping community about that.