As news continues to trickle down the pipeline about Comcast SportsNet Chicago reporter Susannah Collins' dismissal, the latest bit of news from the Chicago Tribune could set an ugly precedent for the future. According to the Tribune and reporter Robert Channick, a letter from Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz apparently played a role in Collins' dismissal.
"In my opinion and those of others, (the videos) are incredibly offensive to a number of audiences, going well beyond professional athletes," Wirtz said. "Had we known of this earlier, we would have raised the issue immediately."
The letter went on to ask CSN to "remove her from our broadcast immediately."
This isn't the first time tha the Blackhawks have meddled in CSN activity. Former Blackhawks reporter Josh Mora didn't have his contract renewed after he was critical about the team's management in a blog entry. A quote from Mora in the Tribune story is telling about how CSN operates.
"I think the network feels that its first responsibility is to the team," said Mora, director of sports partnerships and curriculum at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla. "The team is their partner, the team is their client and the reporters and anchors are just the employees. I think if there's ever a conflict between the two entities they're going to resolve it in the team's favor first."
The firing of Collins compounded with the non-renewal of Mora's contract is creating potential for an ugly situation surrounding the Blackhawks. Dan Bernstein of CBS Chicago raised the question about Bobby Hull's employment as a Blackhawks ambassador despite a past that is loaded with much more ugly tidbits than Collins' Sports Nutz videos.
The situation with Collins is nowhere near as cut and dry as the firing of Jen Patterson in 2010 after it was revealed that she was dating Nick Boynton of the Blackhawks. That's actually a potential conflict of interest as opposed to big spoonful of hypocracy, and there's also precedence after Carolyn Hughes was fired by Fox Sports West after having an affair with Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe.
But how much of an impact should teams have in personnel decisions for their flagship network? If a team spurs a network to let someone go from their job because they're not good at it (see: Beth Keener at Fox Sports South) then that's one thing, but to spur a network to fire an employee because of their past that was initially not a problem for the network or because they were being critical of the team? That's a much more murky area. If you dig deep enough, you can find skeletons in anyone's closet. and if you simply want a supply of homer announcers or writers, you might as well work on attempting to clone Hawk Harrelson.
Susannah is super hot and her girlfriend is even hotter!! I'm sure JEN will land on her feet. Although I'd so LOVE to see her on her back as well. YEAH!
The customer in this scenario is the network (CSN), who is paying for the rights to broadcast the games. CSN gets to decide who does what..even with the Blackhawks owing 25% of the network. If the team has a legitimate issue (which this clearly isn't), CSN could still have made a move after the season. And why fire her? Is there not something else she could do for CSN?
The teams want unabashed homers, pure and simple. The network needs to grow a pair and remind the team who is paying. I mean, it's not like CSN has to worry about not getting to bid on the Blackhawks games in the future--they're the only network willing to do it. CSN standing firm and allowing its on-air talent and reporters to report and comment without fear of retaliation from the team would allow the network to have some tiny shred of journalistic integrity. As it stands, it has absolutely zero.
@HarryWolper "I mean, it's not like CSN has to worry about not getting to bid on the Blackhawks games in the future--they're the only network willing to do it."That would explain why WGN also broadcasts their games.
@HarryWolper HaHa you think they are the only network that would broadcast games????
When a controversy likes this arises, the main concern of the team is <said reporter> was involved in <enter situation here>. The problem is when said reporter is named in media reports; it’s followed more prominently by the team, rather than the team’s broadcast partner. Then it indirectly associates them to controversy of an individual not of their employ. So in my opinion, the Hawks are justified in protecting their brand by having her disassociated with team. Just my two cents.