Yesterday, an epic sports reporter took the role of a legitimate local journalist, when Mike Francesa, of WFAN, interviewed Fox Television Stations president Dennis Swanson about his company’s current blackout. In case you haven’t heard, Cablevision subscribers in and around New York City have been blacked out of Fox for the past few days, and missed sporting events like last weekend’s Giants game and multiple MLB playoff games.
At times, the dialogue took the antagonistic tone of a standard sports station call-in, with Francesa continuously pressing Swanson to explain his company’s refusal to enter into binding arbitration with Cablevision:
MF: “The bottom line is that you’re being evasive, here, Dennis, that you won’t agree to binding arbitration in this case.”
When Swanson tried to disparage Cablevision or cloud the current controversy, Francesa refocused the discussion on the present holdout (though he continuously conceded the fact that Cablevision, as a company, is acting hypocritically.) Francesa’s incessant questioning diluted Swanson’s apparent attempt at a tactical character assassination of Cablevision. Though candidly critical of Swanson, Francesa remained even-handed, reminding listeners—sports fans, for whom he was advocating—of his past indictment of Cablevision for employing the same tactics that he was pressing Swanson on.
MF: “See, we can’t have the cake and eat it too. A hundred different times, on different disputes, we have slaughtered Cablevision for not going to binding arbitration when the other party would…This time they will go to binding arbitration. All we want is a deal. We don’t care who makes the money.”
Francesa ended the exchange with a prediction:
MF: “And I’ll tell you this…especially if the Yankees win, but either way. Five or six days before the election, with you guys holding up the World Series, every politician’s going to be knocking on your door in the next couple of days and you both know it…Because that’s apple pie in America. Five days before Election Day and you know they’re coming.”Dylan DePice is a former CJR intern.