ESPN's John Skipper responded to the suspension of Tony Kornheiser, but there's more to the story than the press release shipped out of Bristol. Observe.
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."
This suspension will have a financial impact on Kornheiser, I'm told, which is unfortunate because I was looking forward to imagining John Skipper or his royal Norbyness using the "World needs plenty of bah-tendas! Two weeks, with pay!" line from The Departed. But I've been told that would not be accurate. What I've also been told, for the sake of accuracy via people whose job it is to make sure these things are accurate, is that Kornheiser's comments about Storm were not the only ones that were "being reviewed" by ESPN brass; rather, it was the "totality" of his comments that got him in trouble, meaning, that yes, the Kornheiser/Gary Braun pile-on about Berman's weight was also considered demeaning to ESPN personnel.
But why was Kornheiser's punishment so severe? People who have worked closely with ESPN higher-ups throughout their career point to Norby's close relationship with Berman. Meaning, Berman's a made guy. Here's a quote that, unfortunately, cannot be attributed to anyone because these are the type of concessions we make to disclose larger truths about Bristol High, but it says a lot: "You're forced to apologize if you make fun of Hannah Storm. You get suspended if you make fun of Chris Berman."
ESPN doesn't have any hard-and-fast rules for handing out suspensions to its staff, according to a person whose job it is to make sure these things are accurate. Each incident is treated on an individual basis, be it inappropriate hugging, taking cellphone pictures of your cock, or playfully calling Bud Selig a pimp. This, in ESPN's mind, is the best way to handle each personnel incident; the problem, however, is that personal opinions and company fiefdoms inevitably come into play. Tony Kornheiser's verdict was two weeks, and a financial implication that will not be disclosed, but he's already served time, so he'll be back on PTI March 5.
Also — and this is important — Hannah Storm did not push for this suspension. She was a little hurt, a little annoyed, but other than that, she doesn't dive into the interoffice justice game. She just wants to talk into the camera, look pretty, and go home and play with her kids. She is bemused by any coverage of her wardrobe, mostly because she does not think it's that big of a deal. The boots, however, are still banned.