SBD/January 9, 2013/Media

ESPN Reportedly Informed Musburger To Move On After Comments On McCarron's Girlfriend

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Musburger (r) has "raised eyebrows" with other controversial comments in the past
ESPN during its coverage of the Discover BCS National Championship game planned to mention that Alabama QB A.J. McCarron was dating Katherine Webb, the current Miss Alabama, but when announcer Brent Musburger’s "gushing over her went too far, some staffers in the production truck at the stadium 'cringed,'" according to Mary Pilon of the N.Y. TIMES. A source said that soon after, ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Acquisitions John Wildhack "told Musburger through the announcer’s earpiece that he had to 'move on.'" The network yesterday apologized for Musburger’s comments, saying in a statement, "We always try to capture interesting story lines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that." Webb yesterday said, "It was kind of nice. I didn’t look at it as creepy at all. For a woman to be called beautiful, I don’t see how that’s an issue." Pilon notes Musburger "has made other controversial comments" while on air. During a Florida State-Miami game in '05, Musburger "commented on a scantily clad Florida State fan, Jenn Sterger, who parlayed her notoriety into a television career." He also "raised eyebrows during the 2011 Fiesta Bowl when he said that a last-second field-goal attempt by Auburn was for 'all the Tostitos,' invoking the game’s sponsor" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/9).

CAUGHT IN A WEBB: Webb appeared exclusively on NBC’s “Today” this morning and discussed Musburger's comments about her. Prior to Webb being interviewed from Alabama, the show ran a two-minute report from correspondent Andrea Canning setting up the story. She said of Musburger, “I think the media has been really unfair to him. I think that if he would have said something along the lines that we were hot or sexy or made any derogatory statements like that, I think that would have been a little bit different.” Webb said she appreciated ESPN's apology, but added, "I don’t think I needed an apology.” She added of her newfound fame,“I’m honestly really shocked that it took off like that. I think that we need to draw back our attention to who the real winners are, and that’s the Alabama football team” (“Today,” NBC, 1/9). Webb for the most part "didn't know what was going on during the game because her cellphone was dead." She said, "I did get to check it a little bit through a friend's phone. It's been crazy" (USA TODAY, 1/9).

TO ERR IS HUMAN: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes under the header, "Announcer Was Only Saying What Everyone Watching Was Thinking." Musburger has been left "holding the bag" for his comments about Webb. His critics, including "some of his peers, referred to him as creepy," but they are "hypocrites." A college football game telecast is "full of provocative shots of cheerleaders (cameramen seem to prefer the chest area) or women in the stands." Similar "'art' shots can be seen during a variety of sports telecasts." Those now so "damn offended say nothing about this 'tradition.'" All Musburger did "was caption what he saw" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/9). SPORTS ON EARTH's Dave Kindred wrote, "We need to cut Musburger some slack." It is "true that a guy who has renewed his AARP discount card this many times should know what’s creepy and what’s not and what’s the time and place and what’s not." However, he is one of "hundreds of millions of human beings who carry the Y chromosome." It causes them to "shout out the occasional geriatric-perv-whoop" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 1/8).

LATE-NIGHT LAUGHS: ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel during his monologue last night said, “The cameras found Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend in the stands, and Brent Musburger, the play-by-play announcer, went nuts.” A video was shown of an overweight, shirtless man cheering in the stands. Kimmel added, “It’s not just the way she looks, its how she carries herself. By the way, at the beginning of the game, the woman, Katherine Webb, had about 2,000 followers on Twitter. Now she has almost 200,000 followers, proving once and for all that men are horny” (“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” ABC, 1/8).
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