It has been pretty well covered elsewhere that Tony Kornheiser has been suspended for two weeks from his duties on Pardon The Interruption for critical comments made Friday on his Washington, D.C. based radio show about morning Sports Center co-host Hannah Storm’s wardrobe. In its own statement ESPN said:
"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."
How bad were his radio show comments?
"She looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body. I know she's very good and I'm not supposed to be critical of ESPN people so I won't. But Hannah Storm? Come on now. Stop. What are you doing?"
Kornheiser did apologize to Storm on his next radio show. "I apologize, unequivocally. I'm a sarcastic, subversive guy. I'm a troll, look at me. I have no right to insult what anybody looks like or what anybody wears. That, I think, should go without saying."
Did ESPN Do Right By Hannah Storm?
There is an interesting argument to be made about whether ESPN overreacted in suspending Kornheiser for the comments. As a biased PTI and Kornheiser fanboy, my opinion as to the appropriateness of the suspension should probably be taken with a grain of salt. I'm fine with two days of Dan Le Batard, I like him just fine. But two weeks!?
The question for me though is even if it is an appropriate response, is it a GOOD response?
Sure, you could argue if you really wanted to penalize Kornheiser then you’d make him do a two week turn as a panelist on Around the Horn. I’d agree that suspending Kornheiser might not humble him much. A two week turn of having to argue with Woody Paige and Tim Cowlishaw and being at the mercy of Tony Reali’s mute button surely would be more humbling.
Had ESPN not suspended Kornheiser, relatively speaking, 30 people would’ve been aware of his remarks about Storm’s wardrobe. Now 3 million are.
Whether Kornheiser’s comments were intended to be hurtful, it’s completely understandable if Storm was hurt by them. But by suspending Kornheiser, all ESPN has done is draw much, much more attention to those remarks than they would’ve received otherwise. I don’t see how that makes things any better for Storm or ESPN.
Though I can comprehend ESPN's desire to reprimand Kornheiser, it winds up seeming like an executive wanting to let Kornheiser know who's boss. Under the circumstances, that seems a bit boneheaded to me.
Go To Your Room!
Sometime over the last couple of months or so, Kornheiser started a gag where at the close of the show (the final closing after the “Big Finish”, not the 6pm ET closing) he’d offer up “Go To Your Room” shout-outs.
On Friday, completely out of context for me at the time, but making much more sense in the aftermath, Kornheiser closed with: "I believe I'll go to my room now."
Maybe it's just me, but if doing right by Hannah Storm was the goal, ESPN needs to go to its room too.