SBD/May 6, 2013/Media

Blackhawks Chair Wirtz Asked For Dismissal Of CSN Chicago's Collins

Collins (r) was involved with a controversial video shorts series about 4 years ago
Blackhawks Chair Rocky Wirtz wrote a letter to Comcast SportsNet Chicago VP & GM Phil Badella that “played a key role in the dismissal of anchor and Hawks reporter Susannah Collins” following an on-air slipup, according to Tim Sassone of the Illinois DAILY HERALD. Wirtz wrote the letter “after discovering Collins' involvement in Sports Nutz, an irreverent series of video shorts that could be deemed offensive by some.” Wirtz in the letter wrote in part, "In my opinion and those of others, (the videos) are incredibly offensive to a number of audiences, going well beyond professional athletes. Had we known of this earlier, we would have raised the issue immediately." The letter went on to ask CSN Chicago to "remove her from our broadcast immediately" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 5/5). In Chicago, Robert Channick cited sources as saying that a “nearly 4-year-old attempt to make a name for herself online had already set the wheels in motion for Collins' sudden departure.” Sources said that execs "had been mulling her future for several weeks after recently viewing sports-themed videos featuring Collins that were uploaded to YouTube beginning in 2009.” Sources added that the White Sox “also expressed concerns about the videos, but executives on Friday denied any involvement in the matter.” Despite the “potentially offensive YouTube videos, sports fans on Friday were overwhelmingly sympathetic toward Collins” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/4).

WHO'S TO BLAME? In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom wrote Wirtz’ “overreaction included cc'ing” Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf and Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts, his “partners in a majority ownership of the cable channel, which ensured Collins’ expendability.” Reaction has “run virulently against” Wirtz’ letter as it “simply seems unfair.” Rosenbloom: “Heavy-handed. Overkill. … Wirtz dropped an atom bomb on a lady bug.” Rosenbloom continued: “Didn’t anybody take breath here? Didn’t any of Wirtz’s ace marketers explain the potential stain on the Hawks’ image?” The Hawks “should’ve been bigger than this,” but now they “seem small” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/5). FANNATION.com's Jordan Campbell wrote, “Regardless of whether CSN Chicago was behind the firing or if the Chicago Blackhawks were behind it, both parties are at fault.” Collins has brought a “tremendous amount of success to CSN Chicago in her coverage of the Blackhawks.” If the Blackhawks were behind the firing, CSN Chicago “should have remained loyal and supportive to one of their top-tier reporters” (FANNATION.com, 5/3).
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