TNT's Craig Sager reported that Chicago Tribune writer K.C. Johnson knew about the John Paxson-Vinny Del Negro dustup weeks ago, but kept quiet "out of respect" for the coach. Obviously, this makes Craig Sager an unprincipled hack.
Johnson defended himself in his mailbag column today, by basically admitting that he doesn't really give a crap if you think he's a bad journalist or not. He made his decision based on "private conversations" that he won't divulge and he has no regrets. He says didn't speak up because he didn't want to affect the future of Vinny Del Negro—which also seems like a justification for never mentioning that Vinny Del Negro is the coach of the Bulls.
I made the decision less because of the flow of information. It was more for a humane reason. Ultimately, you may view that reason as unsound journalistically, but I'm comfortable with it even while facing the fallout.
I mean, I guess that's fair. If you're comfortable being the guy who didn't file the only the interesting scoop your beat produced this year, then that's cool with me. (Although, an incident of workplace violence and the possible abuse of a valuable employee probably should affect someone's job, shouldn't it? That's kind of why you're there, but whatever.) But that doesn't really explain why Jim O'Donnell of the Sun-Times—Johnson's competitor, in theory—decided to attack Sager; mocking his reporting, his wardrobe and his fancy "new media" ways. Yes, that means more complaints about the demise of unwritten rules.
The first half of O'Donnell's fumbling towards syntax was a rant against Web sites, blogs, and TNT. (Note to aspiring sportswriters: All good columns begin with limericks that don't obey the rhyme scheme or meter of a limerick.) Then he gets to the heart of the matter: The gall of Craig Sager's scary "reporting" on Johnson's non-reporting.
The TNT nadir that evening came when Craig Sager — he of the AutoMart sports coats and wintry Bob Barker smile — did a clichéd schtick on deep-dish pizza. The cheesy bit might have been fresh in the 1969 ''Waa-Mu Show'' when he was at Northwestern but had zero redemptive value at the UC.
Not as fresh as your AutoMart, Bob Barker or "Waa-Mu Show" references, I'm sure. Also, Craig Sager wears bad jackets? I hadn't noticed.
Sager — suddenly a journalist — summoned the worst of his career lightweight-ism and outed Chicago Tribune beat writer K.C. Johnson as an allegedly unwilling uncoverer of the Paxson-Del Negro story.
''The report was first heard from Tribune writer K.C. Johnson,'' Sager blathered. ''He held the story back for several weeks out of respect for Vinny Del Negro. I asked him why he held it back, and he said, 'When somebody's future is in my hand and I can affect it. ... I did not report it.'''
Sager's ''reporting'' implied Johnson was attempting to hop on the scoop express alongside the Web site that originally released the story. At no point did Sager take his microphone and cameraman to Johnson during a game break for more detailed elaboration.
Yes, why didn't Sager do some real reporting and get a quote from Johnson that could elaborate on the quote he just delivered from Johnson. What a lightweight! Sorry, Craig. Just because you repeat the conversations that you have with the people you are paid to do stories about, that doesn't make you a journalist. Just ask K.C. Johnson.
K.C. Johnson: Moving past my decision, my part of the ‘the story' [Chicago Tribune]
Sager only adding fool to the fire [Chicago Sun-Times]