Deadspin Classic: Of Jimmy Olson, Spittle And The Dying Of The Light

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Originally published April 30, 2008

Here's the important thing to remember about Buzz Bissinger, and whatever the heck happened on "Costas Now" about two hours ago: Buzz is not alone. Sure, he might be metaphorically alone, raining spittle on the imaginary demons that clearly haunt him. But if you don't think that almost every single person — with obvious, clear exceptions — who was on all those panels last night didn't come up to him afterwards and give him a fist pound and a "yeah, we really struck back tonight!" well, you weren't there. This really is what many of them think. Though most are a little calmer about it.

It was an odd thing, really, to read the emails that flooded in, to see people (kindly, sure) ask us if we were OK. We're fine. We were not the person on that panel to be pitied. What more can one do when a man is disturbed than to show him compassion and not sink to his level. (It felt odd to be considered the uncivil person on the panel.) And hey, we get it: The simplest, most obvious emotion that comes when we are faced with what we do not understand is fear, followed quickly by rage. We're not sure what happened to Mr. Bissinger, but, honestly, we're kind of worried about him. And, as people who own all of his books, we say that legitimately; we want him to write more of them.


It was clear from the get-go, from the very first, "I bet you don't know who W.C. Heinz is," that this was not going to be a roundtable exchange of ideas. (Poor Braylon Edwards, honestly. He must be completely bewildered this morning.) It was obvious that Bissinger had been building up to this for a long time, those dark nights wondering what the kids were searching online, those terrifying moments when the world seemed to be spasming out of his control ... they all built up to this. We had seen him backstage, and introduced ourselves. He was, as Jimi Hendrix was famously described, a live wire with too much current running through it. We could see it coming; anyone paying attention couldn't have missed it.

We suppose we could have punched him in the nose or something, called him an asshole, said he was a piece of shit. It might have made for more riveting television; we are certain Costas wouldn't have minded. But that would have been counterproductive. When you see someone flailing desperately at someone, something, anything, there's nothing more to do than sit there, bemused and bewildered, amazed at what was happening, just like everyone else was. We cannot imagine any reasonable human being watching that display and saying, "doggone it, that raving man has a point!" The only way to win a battle like that is to let the audience take in what is happening, and trust them to respond accordingly.


Sure: We would have loved to have made all the points about blogs that we've made countless times before, trot them all out again, in front of a national audience. Had we that opportunity, we surely would have taken advantage of it. But we felt, in a way, the point was made for us. Watching this talented man spin himself into a typhoon of imploding bluster showed the fear, showed the anger, showed the futility of it all. We sat back and watched, and hoped nobody got hurt, just liked you. Honestly: We really hope he's OK. A fight would have done no one any good, least of all him.

We have to take a flight to Los Angeles on Wednesday morning and, as luck would have it, be gone all day today. (Daulerio will be taking over the site until Thursday. We hope he ignores Costas' bizarre misconception and doesn't just post grotesque comments all day, because, you know, that's what bloggers do.) We'll be back Thursday, doing what we do, trying to bring you a little distraction for another workaday. We are not mad at Bissinger, or Costas. We just watched a man immolate on national television. To have piled on the carnage would have been discourteous. The future is obvious to anyone even slightly interested in looking. We just stand aside, as he, as they, watch the light shrink, then fade, then vanish.