Bill Simmons recently sat down with President Obama for his podcast, which is up now on Grantland (and which has already spawned a delightful hashtag on Twitter). The last time the two were supposed to talk, ESPN ruined everything. Originally published April 16, 2008.
If Bill Simmons seems grouchier in his MVP column today, or in his podcast later this week, you'll have to forgive him. He was scheduled to have Sen. Barack Obama as a guest, but, for reasons that haven't quite made themselves clear, ESPN canceled the appearance. Obama was all ready to go, but the network pulled the plug.
No word from Simmons yet — we contacted him, but it's the West Coast, and we doubt he's awake yet — but ESPN's explanation makes little sense.
But ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told us: "It's absolutely not an issue about any one candidate. Our position is that when they're down to the final two candidates, we'll look for options to interview each accordingly. Fans don't expect political coverage on our air. We did Kerry and Bush on ESPN. Separate one-on-ones that were sports related."
We're not quite sure we agree with Rush & Malloy on this, who make a big show of pointing out that George Bodenheimer gave $1,000 to John McCain. After all, John Papanek gave to Obama, and Bodenheimer also donated $1,000 to now-Obama supporter Chris Dodd.
We think it's more a matter of pulling rank. Some online guy is gonna have Sen. Obama as a guest on his PODCAST? What the hell's a podcast? Better to wait until Stu Scott can talk to him about Carolina hoops after the convention. Why waste the access on a podcast?
That's our theory, anyway. As Rush & Malloy quote a source:
"They landed the hottest politician in 50 years, and they couldn't even see the interview through? This is insanity."
If you'll excuse him, Bill Simmons will now set himself on fire.
Barack Obama Is Game, ESPN Isn't [New York Daily News]