In the words of that eminent sports philosopher, John McEnroe, “You have got to be kidding me!”
ESPN has suspended Tony Kornheiser for two weeks for comments he made about Hannah Storm’s attire. Storm is a cohost of ESPN’s SportsCenter TV program.
Kornhesier, who also cohosts Pardon the Interruption (on ESPN), made the “offensive” remarks on his radio show on ESPN 980 in Washington DC late last week:
Hannah Storm in a horrifying, horrifying outfit today. She’s got on red go-go boots and a catholic school plaid skirt … way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now. She’s got on her typically very, very tight shirt. She looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body … I know she’s very good, and I’m not supposed to be critical of ESPN people, so I won’t … but Hannah Storm … come on now! Stop! What are you doing? … She’s what I would call a Holden Caulfield fantasy at this point.
A very brief item on ESPN.com on the incident reads as follows:
ESPN has suspended “Pardon The Interruption” co-host Tony Kornheiser for two weeks following comments he made on his Washington-based radio show last week.
On his radio show, Kornheiser made critical comments about the wardrobe of morning “SportsCenter” co-anchor Hannah Storm.
ESPN executive vice president of content John Skipper released the following statement:
“Tony Kornheiser’s comments about Hannah Storm were entirely inappropriate. Hurtful and personal comments such as these are not acceptable and have significant consequences. Tony has been suspended from PTI for two weeks. Hannah is a respected colleague who has been an integral part of the success of our morning SportsCenter.”
Kornheiser apologized for the remarks on his radio show Friday.
At the risk of being ignorant — and I am ignorant in that I did not hear Kornheiser’s remarks myself — most of what I’m reading online and in emails makes this seem like a tempest in a teapot and the punishment certainly does not fit the “crime.” (I have seen Storm’s outfit, on the other hand. Kornheiser may have exaggerated a bit in his sartorial descriptions, but that’s like Randy on American Idol calling someone “pitchy”; it’s a matter of personal taste.)
Was what he said “hurtful and personal?” Depends on your perspective and how sensitive you choose to be. Let’s be clear here, we’re not talking about Imus, or Jimmy the Greek, or Al Campanis. There’s no racial or religious animosity here. It’s not even sexist really, since Kornheiser routinely comments on the wardrobe choices of his male colleagues as well (could be construed as age-ist? Kornheiser is 61 himself).
And — not to get him in any more trouble — but why is it all right for him to regularly ridicule the Today ‘s Hoda Kotb, but this merits a suspension? Is it because he’s talking about an ESPN “product?” Did management have an ulterior motive?
This is his shitck. He’s loud, opinionated (but never vulgar), and no one is off limits (he was suspended in 2002 for remarks made against ESPN about the firing of a coworker). And if the suits in Bristol haven’t realized this in all the years Kornheiser has been in their employ, someone hasn’t been paying attention.
More on the situation here, here, and here. Even those who don’t care for Mr. Tony’s style feel compelled to defend him. In fact, I find it amusing that so many outlets that normally wouldn’t even look over their collective eyeglasses at this story are chiming in.
Of course, this could all just be a strategic ploy to garner ESPN some attention.