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SBD/Issue 82/Sports Media
McGwire's Steroid Admission Was Carefully Executed, Planned
Published January 12, 2010
|McGwire Reaches Out To Newspapers On Top
Of MLB Net Interview As Part Of PR Push
HITTING IT OUT OF THE PARK: Perhaps the biggest single moment in the short 12-month history of MLB Network started to come together a few days ago when McGwire consented to the channel's year-long request to conduct an on-camera interview. Though they could not be certain, MLB Net execs had a pretty good idea McGwire would use the interview to finally address rumors of his past steroid use. MLB Net President & CEO Tony Petitti said, "We saw the official release the same time you did. In the last couple of days, we knew we'd have the interview. But we didn't know what the content of it would be." Petitti solely credits Costas for landing the interview on the network. "This doesn't happen without Bob," Petitti said. "Bob gives us access to these types of interviews." Costas, a St. Louis resident, has gained McGwire's trust over the past several years. When MLB Net hired him last February, Costas put McGwire near the top of a wish-list of interviews he wanted to conduct, along with HOFers like Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax. When the Cardinals hired McGwire in October, network execs believed he would have to speak out before taking over. Petitti said the interview was not so much a watershed moment for MLB Net as it was a continuation of a network philosophy to talk about hard hitting baseball issues. "We need to consistently prove that if it's important to baseball, we're going to be there" (John Ourand, THE DAILY). DAILY VARIETY’s Jon Weisman wrote Costas is an “example of the heavyweight power that MLB Network has quickly come to employ” (VARIETY.com, 1/11).
STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE: The N.Y. TIMES' Sandomir writes the McGwire interview was a "coup for the year-old MLB Network and justifies what the channel is paying Costas." MLB Net has a "little more than half the subscribers ESPN has," but the league-owned channel "had an edge in Costas if, indeed, McGwire wanted to be interviewed at length by a smart interrogator." Costas said, "They decided this was the place for Mark to tell the story, but not because it was the place where they’d get the easiest ride" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/12). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk wrote McGwire "finally did what most of us wanted him to do," and give him a "lot of credit for doing the interview live with no restrictions and for sitting in Costas' firing line for almost an entire hour" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/11). Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz notes McGwire called him for an interview yesterday as part of his initial media blitz, and "there were no ground rules." Miklasz: "You could ask him anything. And he answered everything" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/12). In L.A., Bill Dwyre writes if McGwire is "smart, he will give a few more interviews on the subject to confirm the sincerity of his apology." He probably even should "do one of those spring training sit-downs, at a long table with 15 microphones, three dozen tape recorders and a roomful of reporters staring him in the face" (L.A. TIMES, 1/12).
Bob Costas Receives Mixed Reviews For
Monday's Interview With McGwire
SOLID, BUT SEVERAL WHIFFS: In S.F., Gwen Knapp in a front-page piece writes Costas, "one of the most respected in the business, whiffed on several points." He seemed "more concerned with the validity of McGwire's statistics and his viability for the Hall of Fame than about the risks associated with pumping artificial hormones into one's body." Costas "failed to ask whether McGwire had any long-term health problems." Costas did ask whether McGwire thought that "using steroids had ever contributed to, more than healed, some of his baseball injuries" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/12). YAHOO SPORTS' Kaduk wrote Costas did a "mostly solid job and asked many of the questions we wanted him to, but in retrospect we both should've thought to ask about any ongoing health problems that may have been caused by his steroid use" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/11).
THE BEST OF THE BEST: FANHOUSE.com’s Milton Kent wrote if there was “ever a doubt that Costas is the preeminent sports television figure of this era, it was dispelled in his searing conversation with McGwire.” Costas “alternated deftly in the roles of persistent inquisitor, confessor and compassionate listener.” Costas “continually framed his questions in polite, but persistent tones, using the full hour wisely to dissect McGwire in baseball terms, then backing off in the final segment to let” McGwire “be human.” The interview was “sports television at its very best, and could only have been achieved by a master of the form, as Costas is" (FANHOUSE.com, 1/11). DEADSPIN.com’s Dashiell Bennett writes under the header, “Last Night’s Winner: Bob Costas.” Costas gets “credit for asking direct and pointed questions, but perhaps could have done a slightly better job hiding his contempt for the answers” (DEADSPIN.com, 1/12).
McGwire's MLB Network Interview
Is A Hot Topic On Twitter
SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE: MLB Net's Peter Gammons last year while he was with ESPN conducted the interview with Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez in which Rodriguez admitted for the first time he has used steroids, and he discussed Costas' interview this morning on "The Dan Patrick Show." Gammons said Costas "asked the question about six times about the home runs. When I was interviewing Alex Rodriguez, I thought this interview isn't going any further if I repeat the question past twice. I think Bob did a remarkable job coming back, and I believe he asked the question about, 'Do you really believe there's no connection between steroids and the home run totals?' I think he asked it six times" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 1/12).
MEDIA MONITOR: Last night's edition of NBC's "Nightly News" led with a three-minute, 15-second report on McGwire's steroid admission that featured commentary from SI.com Senior Editor Stephen Cannella. CBS' "Evening News" first reported on McGwire 6:45 into the broadcast, with 1:57 of total coverage including commentary from SI's Tom Verducci. ABC's "World News Tonight" first reported on McGwire at 21:23, with 1:37 of total coverage that included ESPN.com's Buster Olney. All three major broadcast morning shows hit on the McGwire story within the first 15 minutes of the telecast. ABC's "GMA" aired a 5:17 report that included a live interview via satellite with ESPN's Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg. CBS' "The Early Show" aired a 2:27 report, while NBC's "Today" featured McGwire in the initial news cycle with a short report approximately five minutes into the broadcast (THE DAILY).