Often filling in for Bob Ley on
I was so struck by Rinaldi's work that I contacted him in England this week (he's covering the British Open) to ask how things came together. He consented to an interview but not before repeatedly making the point that he did not want to capitalize on the Penn State story. (I include that here so the reader knows this was driven by me.)
Rinaldi initially thought he would interview Jay Paterno in-person at State College, Pa., but that timeline moved up after the Freeh Report was released on the morning of July 12. The interview was eventually conducted via satellite by Rinaldi in Bristol and Jay Paterno in State College.
"What we wanted to ask (were) simple and straightforward questions to elicit the reaction of Jay Paterno on the findings of the Freeh Report and not to simply provide a venue -- although that is very important -- but to get some of the questions that we thought would naturally be in viewers' minds," Rinaldi said.
Rinaldi had previously interviewed Jay Paterno a number of times and classified his relationship as "someone I know and have talked with many times through covering Penn State." Asked about his approach to the interviewing Jay Paterno, Rinaldi said, "I think both the viewer and subject understands that the questions will be straightforward, and in their simplicity, they are difficult because the topic is incomprehensibly difficult for everybody involved. To ask questions that are not simple and straightforward and to the point serves no one."
Rinaldi said he texted Jay Paterno after the interview to thank him for his time. "I told him that I hoped he found it fair," Rinaldi said. "That's always what you want. You strive for fairness. Not to placate and please the subject, but to get the subject to know your goal is fairness."
The question is can Andrews do what great studio hosts must do. Can she lead her analysts into areas that are not comfortable for the sport, for her or the subjects at hand? The best at the position are well-prepared orchestra conductors who can read off a script or ad-lib with equal aplomb. It is not an easy gig to do well, and it's a challenge to morph between being somber and humorous, depending on the tone of the conversation.
Hiring Andrews was an interesting gamble for Fox because it bottomed out last year with Kevin Frazier and Marcus Allen leading a studio show that had zero impact on the college football landscape. She offers a very big name in sports broadcasting for Fox (the network mentioned the number of Twitter followers she has in its official hiring announcement -- a first for that company), and it's a different hire than a Curt Menefee or Chris Fowler because she clearly desires fame beyond sports. Andrews has a Hollywood publicist, she's repped by a major talent agency and has designs on entertainment. She's ambitious and wants to be famous. (This isn't limited to her: The same goes for Chris Berman, Stephen A. Smith, Dick Vitale and dozens of others.) She has
How will this play out? I have no idea. I'm skeptical of Andrews being a forceful voice against coaches when the situation calls for it, but I give her credit for expanding out of her comfort zone. The one thing that's clear is that ESPN will not lose a single viewer from her departure. The games draw viewers, and the Empire has already moved on
Asked if Poynter had addressed the issues ESPN readers and viewers were most interested in, Dunlap said, "I would say sometimes the thing we found most useful were not the things that they were most interested in. And that might be a way that we are differentiated from the others [ombudsmen's] also."
A fair take, but also a frustrating one. Poynter has posted five times since March 28, including two pieces on ESPN's interviewing techniques. I'd argue ESPN consumers deserve more. (Worth noting on this topic were the recent
With the Project Review ending in November, Poynter has time to finish strong and produce the kind of solid work for viewers as it did
That ESPN and CBS executives put Fernandez in such a position -- and it's the same when she interviews Roger Federer, who is represented by her husband -- is nonsense personified. The tennis public deserves better, and I say that enjoying Fernandez's work as an announcer. Brad Gilbert added his own delightful touch of unobjectivity at the Bank of West Classic when he fist-pumped Serena prior to interviewing her post-match. No one expects tennis to be
That wasn't the case on July 12 when BTN aired a
But rather than pair Millen with multiple voices, ESPN inexplicably opted to use him as its primary analyst after the release of the Freeh Report -- a decision that launched the kind of vitriol in social media usually reserved for Craig James. Millen's initial reaction was
Offering Millen up without another analyst -- and one without ties to Happy Valley -- was so puzzling that I wanted to find out from the ESPN executive in charge what the philosophy was. Perhaps I missed something. But when I emailed the ESPN communication department for a request to speak with a producer or executive in charge that morning for a short Q&A, I was told that no one would be available. That was a revealing decision, especially since ESPN has rarely not made someone available when requested. An ESPN spokesperson later emailed me a statement in response to SI's query:
"Matt played at Penn State and was also interviewed for the Freeh report and as a result we thought he had a unique perspective. While he expressed disappointment in his former coach and said Paterno bears responsibility, he also admitted to having a hard time processing the report. That's understandable. In hindsight, having Matt in a featured role put him in a tough spot.
We were diligent on Thursday [July 12] in making sure many voices were heard across our platforms, including those of Brent Musburger, Mark May, Kirk Herbstreit, Rece Davis, Joe Schad, Rod Gilmore, Lou Holtz, Stephen A. Smith, Roger Cossack, Christine Brennan, Don Van Natta and our reporters, including Jeremy Schaap from Philadelphia and Tom Rinaldi, who conducted the Jay Paterno interview Thursday afternoon. ESPN Radio and ESPNU also had separate, devoted coverage throughout the day."