USA Today: NBC commentators Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir participate in vulgar video spoof of U.S. Olympian

olympic

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I haven't seen it either. Is it newsworthy to be reported by a journalist. If not, it's yet another example of a journalist blowing something up that is meaningless. It happens all the time in politics but in that realm, it gives an assist to the dark side in election years. Here it would be silly.

BTW, there are plenty of comments re Johnny and Tara. I thought at the beginning in 2014 or so that they could add a youthful element to commentating but they definitely have their drawbacks. I do notice they are willing to criticize US skaters internationally, something that I didn't see much from Scott, Sandra, Dick, Peggy, etc. bu then again they were a different generation and the latter 2 were relics of the Cold War. But, Johnny tries too hard to stand out and that is fine, but if you are a commentator, I think it might distract from skating. Tara's comments miss a lot more than hit, but would there be better commentators in the U.S.?

My fave was Robin Cousins. He always found the right words and as an example, I remember he defined Laura Lepisto as 'robotic' in Vancouver, and it was a word so spot on. Maybe the world could have one commentator and it would be him? An American that did a decent job commentating was ... Debi Thomas! Yes. I liked her no-nonsense straightforward talk the one time I listened to her at the 1990 GWG (?). I liked Dorothy Hamill (?) at the 1997 CSF. She added a layer of emotion and happiness that Peggy missed without yammering away.
 

tylersf

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I want to see Tara AND Michelle do a commentary for Ladies Figure Skating. I would also like to see Evan AND Johnny do a commentary for Mens' Figure Skating as well.
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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I haven't seen it either. Is it newsworthy to be reported by a journalist. If not, it's yet another example of a journalist blowing something up that is meaningless. It happens all the time in politics but in that realm, it gives an assist to the dark side in election years. Here it would be silly.

BTW, there are plenty of comments re Johnny and Tara. I thought at the beginning in 2014 or so that they could add a youthful element to commentating but they definitely have their drawbacks. I do notice they are willing to criticize US skaters internationally, something that I didn't see much from Scott, Sandra, Dick, Peggy, etc. bu then again they were a different generation and the latter 2 were relics of the Cold War. But, Johnny tries too hard to stand out and that is fine, but if you are a commentator, I think it might distract from skating. Tara's comments miss a lot more than hit, but would there be better commentators in the U.S.?

My fave was Robin Cousins. He always found the right words and as an example, I remember he defined Laura Lepisto as 'robotic' in Vancouver, and it was a word so spot on. Maybe the world could have one commentator and it would be him? An American that did a decent job commentating was ... Debi Thomas! Yes. I liked her no-nonsense straightforward talk the one time I listened to her at the 1990 GWG (?). I liked Dorothy Hamill (?) at the 1997 CSF. She added a layer of emotion and happiness that Peggy missed without yammering away.

Debi was excellent, and the fact she knew or had grown up and competed against a lot of the skaters, gave her commentary special insight.
 

Rock2

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As I survey all the commentary I'll share or reinforce a few points:

*Johnny and Tara have a lot of reach/influence - including to general audiences - compared to an entity like TSL; so they will be held more accountable.

*I always thought Tara (and Mike Weiss) were incredibly articulate and well-spoken at a young age. Thought both were destined for commentating. She just hasn't worked out IMHO. I'd like to see them step aside and feel free to move to late night TV or a digital platform to fly their freak flags however they wish. There is a place for them, for sure - just please be somewhere that I can easily avoid.

*Let's remind ourselves how journalism works. Brennan has editors. She can only pitch what's happening out there. Whatever her editor bites on gets printed. She is likely also given instruction to play up the most dramatic slants in the piece based on the current temp of what society is tuning in to atm. So unless skating generates some interesting news, this is the only way to get coverage. Liu coaching change won't do it. What goes with this is, if she doesn't give visibility to every little thing to her editor and something she passes on blows up into something big with another publication, her job is in jeopardy for not being on top of things. Yes, she built her brand on scandal (and hey there was lots to work with that few were touching) so that's her brand, right now. And those who employ her will continue to pay her for just that.
 
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viennese

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I was really impressed with Johnny and Tara the first time I saw/heard them for the Sochi coverage. They did hours and hours live commentary. LIVE. They were funny, sharp, with good back and forth banter. They definitely had their favorites (skaters and nations).


Their act has gotten sillier. But maybe this at the urging of the network/directors, who are reacting to what casual fans like.
 

aftershocks

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*Let's remind ourselves how journalism works. Brennan has editors. She can only pitch what's happening out there. Whatever her editor bites on gets printed. She is likely also given instruction to play up the most dramatic slants in the piece based on the current temp of what society is tuning in to atm. So unless skating generates some interesting news, this is the only way to get coverage. Liu coaching change won't do it. What goes with this is, if she doesn't give visibility to every little thing to her editor and something she passes on blows up into something big with another publication, her job is in jeopardy for not being on top of things. Yes, she built her brand on scandal (and hey there was lots to work with that few were touching) so that's her brand, right now. And those who employ her will continue to pay her for just that.

I disagree with you. Brennan has been reporting on figure skating for a very long time, even though she still doesn't seem to have the greatest understanding of many technical aspects, much less a well-developed understanding of the sport's history and foundational development. But since she's been reporting for a long time, I don't think it's necessarily procedural for her to have to 'pitch' a breaking news story to her editors, especially in terms of how she will angle it. The uppermost thing for her editors is surely going to be evidence and accuracy. More generally, sports reporters cover competitions and what's happening in the sport in terms of personalities and impactful or entertaining news. Brennan has done straight reporting on events and personalities, as well as commentary about the sport's challenges. A lot of her commentary writing has been a bit OTT and somewhat off-base.

What I have criticized is Brennan's somewhat superficial and exaggerated approach to her coverage. Sure, the 'yellow journalism' thrill-seeking or scandal-seeking tendency that was and to an extent is still part of journalism holds some sway in news rooms. However, there's definitely a responsible, thoughtful and more sensitive way these days to go about investigating and reporting, particularly on controversial and important social/ cultural topics that have wide-ranging implications.

I think you are being overly dismissive toward the sport with your comment suggesting the lack of 'interesting news being generated.' There's plenty of rich stories that abound and that go undiscovered and untold in figure skating. Why would you think that there's no story in Alysa Liu's coaching switch? It didn't occur in a vacuum. There's plenty to write about regarding that development, perhaps even in conjunction with a number of other recent and past developments surrounding young athletes and coaching changes. There have also been some regional reporters who have done excellent features on skaters from their area, e.g., the work of Kirk Wessler, in particular about Matt Savoie, many years ago. There have also recently been some intriguing commentaries that appeared in major publications (The New York Times and The Washington Post) by writers who also happen to be fans of figure skating (I'm thinking of the interesting commentary on Jason Brown's skating; and a personal commentary by an African-American fs aficionado a few years ago).

Even in the area of reporting on scandals, I think it's important to go beyond 'scoop' style reporting of high profile cases that generate huge headlines and quick copy. There have been a few recent social media posts by members of the skating community which I believe got more at the heart of the complexities that need to be addressed and resolved in figure skating culture, which are also impacted by the larger culture.

Part of the problem we aren't seeing more and better media coverage of fs is due to the general lack of understanding of the history and intricacies of the sport, even by the few reporters who have covered the sport for years, including Brennan. And then, the people who run the sport haven't yet found a way to promote it and bring it more effectively into the 21st-century. Figure skating has always been an expensive, elitist sport, which is also a contributory factor to problematic coverage and apparent decreased viewer interest. There are myriad other administrative, competitive, p.r., and promotional problems that have piled up over the years without being adequately addressed. But there are also many bright spots and a multitude of storylines crying out to be explored. As usual, people within the sport and those fans who are the most passionate about fs must be the ones to enact beneficial change. Hopefully, significant change will include increasingly better and more thoughtful approaches to writing about the personalities and complex, controversial issues the sport faces.

Too many people tend to stay on the safe conservative, status quo side, and/or prefer to bury their heads in the sand, or conversely to police and finger-point in an unproductive manner. Or to over-praise a reporter for being the main, self-appointed crusader who brings high profile scandals to light, but without digging deeper for more answers, and without doing dogged and difficult investigative work that might produce more thoughtful features. I think there's room for, yet a dearth of media coverage which could examine lesser known individuals and incidents within the sport that as a whole might weave a more helpful picture, which could lead to spearheading actual meaningful change.

Instead, Brennan's approach tends to employ an overly hyped 'scoop' mentality for short-term gain and immediate clicks. IMO, her approach has tended to indiscriminately equate and throw all questionable scandals into the same pot, without helpful context or worthwhile follow through (though that doesn't mean she isn't genuinely earnest about the issues she reports on). At the same time, there are positive goings-on which are afoot within the sport that remain completely untapped or only randomly and modestly reported on.
 
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Carolla5501

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Well I am incredibly shocked by the "response' to this....

Let's just shoot the messenger and let Johnny and Tara do whatever they want?
In most sports this type of action would cost the commentators their jobs but skating fans apparently are more than willing to allow the "side show" act to do anything.
 

VGThuy

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Well I am incredibly shocked by the "response' to this....

Let's just shoot the messenger and let Johnny and Tara do whatever they want?
In most sports this type of action would cost the commentators their jobs but skating fans apparently are more than willing to allow the "side show" act to do anything.

To be fair, it was a skit produced by NBC themselves, so Johnny and Tara can't really be held responsible for doing a gig their bosses wanted them to do. They didn't write their own lines as the whole thing was in the style of the Pitch Perfect characters they were chatting with.
 

Yazmeen

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If they want to a silly skit, sanctioned or not by the network, fine. But next time, don't drag Bradie Tennell or any other figure skater into this without their knowledge. It frankly would have been a hell of a lot funnier if Johnny criticized a video of Tara and vice versa, though I doubt either of their massively inflated egos would have allowed them to do that.
 

Vagabond

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To be fair, it was a skit produced by NBC themselves, so Johnny and Tara can't really be held responsible for doing a gig their bosses wanted them to do. They didn't write their own lines as the whole thing was in the style of the Pitch Perfect characters they were chatting with.
I suspect that their their contracts probably give them the right to refuse assignments, especially those that are for not ISU or USFS events. That NBC produced the show may not help them either; NBC can still cause heads to roll. :rollin:
 

VGThuy

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I suspect that their their contracts probably give them the right to refuse assignments, especially those that are for not ISU or USFS events. That NBC produced the show may not help them either; NBC can still cause heads to roll. :rollin:

If NBC were to use them as scapegoats, and if I were their attorney, I’d be looking at their contracts and prepare to sue. Even if they had the right to refusal, it’s not their job to screen NBC’s assignments. They should be able to trust what the network gives them.
 

Vagabond

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If NBC were to use them as scapegoats, and if I were their attorney, I’d be looking at their contracts and prepare to sue. Even if they had the right to refusal, it’s not their job to screen NBC’s assignments.
I think that the risk wouldn't be specific to them but would be for the entire NBC division responsible, starting at the top down.
Even if they had the right to refusal, it’s not their job to screen NBC’s assignments. They should be able to trust what the network gives them.
They are capable of thinking for themselves, and it is not uncommon for entertainment personalities to decline an assignment, gig, or job because they don't believe it would be appropriate.
 

VGThuy

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I think that the risk wouldn't be specific to them but would be for the entire NBC division responsible, starting at the top down.

They are capable of thinking for themselves, and it is not uncommon for entertainment personalities to decline an assignment, gig, or job because they don't believe it would be appropriate.

My point is that they can decline it, but it's not their responsibility to notify NBC if there's something problematic with their productions, especially if they aren't part of the creative team to come up with it. Many people just take a job they are given, so if NBC were going to punish them for doing what they were told and for performing in something NBC themselves produced and created, there's something totally wrong here. And I wonder if Tara and Johnny felt strongly enough to refuse if they wanted to. I think that's a question for them to answer. IMO, if anything, if they were to be punished, I think they'd have grounds to sue due to NBC putting them in that position and then punishing them for doing what NBC themselves told them to do.
 
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Coco

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Most likely, they can decline assignments on paper, but not in practice.
 

Rock2

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Most likely, they can decline assignments on paper, but not in practice.

That's where you cover your hiney by, say, sending an internal email clarifying that you are interested in doing the gig but you highly recommend one joke get re-written as it may not be deemed appropriate. Something like that.

You share your thoughts face to face and then cya in writing if you are forced into it any way.

Having said that I doubt there was opposition, if Tara shared it on her social media and then perhaps took it down once she saw the comments.
 

VGThuy

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Most performers are put into a spot where they lose jobs for doing things like that because they will be branded as “difficult”. People do a lot of things they don’t want to in order to keep their jobs. That said, I agree with you that Tara seemed to like it since she did share it. Unless she was told to share it by NBC.
 

overedge

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Since Tara and Johnny have done many other non-skating-coverage gigs for NBC (e.g. Rio Olympics, Kentucky Derby, dog shows, Access Hollywood, Oscars red carpet, "lifestyle" podcast), I would be surprised if they felt they would get fired for not doing this one. They seem to be very willing to do whatever NBC asks them to do. I have no idea whether that is because of their own egos, to build their "brand", for the $$$, or to make themselves seem indispensible and thus less likely to get fired.
 
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Mad for Skating

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There does seem to be a very concerted effort right now to discredit Brennan as a journalist.

What a coincidence that she is also the only skating journalist working hard to report on systemic abuse and coverups in our sport.

Now, I can't possibly imagine why people would want to discredit a journalist doing that work...oh. wait.

As I stated earlier, I am very grateful to Christine Brennan for her articles on the abuse and subsequent coverups in the sport. She’s helped bring awareness to these problems where most people would try to sweep it under the rug, and I think she genuinely cares about protecting survivors and holding abusers accountable.
However, she’s a journalist, and she needs a steady flow of content to make money. I think when there’s no major event going on (especially with the current v*r*s situation), she simply writes about any bit of news in the sporting world and sensationalizes every detail to get the biggest impact. I understand why she’s doing it, but I feel like a top journalist like Brennan shouldn’t have to be writing about tacky NBC ads to make a living. And when everything is treated as a groundbreaking scandal, people don’t pay as much attention to the real problems because Brennan writes about Tara and Johnny making mildly trashy jokes with the same intensity as she writes about sexual abuse.

If you’re looking for good resources about the culture of abuse in this sport, I highly recommend checking out Kiira Korpi’s recent work. Since she is working independently, she doesn’t have to adhere to the same restrictions, requirements, and quotas that Brennan does.
 

aftershocks

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I doubt either of their massively inflated egos would have allowed them to do that.

... because of their own egos ...

Sigh. Tara and Johnny definitely have strong, healthy egos. And I don't see anything wrong with that. You better have a strong ego if you want to be successful in figure skating, forget about tackling a commentating career with a big network. ;)

As far as labeling their egos as 'massively inflated' or out-of-control, maybe some of us should be checking our own egos before projecting. :lol: The whole T, T&J commentating trio wouldn't work if any one of their egos was on the overly huge side. All three of them have a sense of humor, a chemistry and a camaraderie that works. From my limited view on the sidelines, all three seem to be consummate professionals. I don't see how they would still be working together if that wasn't the case. Ditto for Tanith White, Charlie White, Ben Agosto, Michael Weiss, et al.

This doesn't mean any of the named individuals are perfect or necessarily easy to work with in all match-ups. Still, one of the key factors that I think all of these named commentators possess is the ability to make fun of themselves. That is particularly true of Charlie, Michael, Terry, Johnny and Tara. So what that every decision by NBC is not the best one. Of course, I get tired of the over-talking during performances, especially by Tara (my gosh). Still, that's by-and-large what NBC wants, and rewards. Unfortunately, it was too much to hope that T&J could bring new ideas and fresh inspiration that might influence NBC to treat figure skating coverage with greater sensitivity, creativity, and responsible g*d*a*n camera work! :biggrinbo :fragile:

In any case, kudos to healthy egos! :40beers:
 

aftershocks

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Since [Korpii] is working independently, she doesn’t have to adhere to the same restrictions, requirements, and quotas that Brennan does.

I'm not giving Brennan any breaks or excuses whatsoever! She don't need any, nor does she give any herself in her aggressive reporting style and tactics! :soapbox:

Good for Brennan for her enterprising, highfalutin' zeal in bringing stories to light that many journalists, especially those fully ensconced in the skating milieu might not wish to touch. However, puhleeze with the layering it on so thick about Brennan being burdened by journalistic 'requirements, restrictions and quotas.' :rolleyes: :drama:

Sensationalizing, exaggerating and overstating has always been Christy's modus operandi. It's her thang, and she's gonna do what she wants to do. :COP: Had she wanted to do any differently, she woulda done so by now.
 

Mad for Skating

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I'm not giving Brennan any breaks or excuses whatsoever! She don't need any, nor does she give any herself in her aggressive reporting style and tactics! :soapbox:

Good for Brennan for her enterprising, highfalutin' zeal in bringing stories to light that many journalists, especially those fully ensconced in the skating milieu might not wish to touch. However, puhleeze with the layering it on so thick about Brennan being burdened by journalistic 'requirements, restrictions and quotas.' :rolleyes: :drama:

Sensationalizing, exaggerating and overstating has always been Christy's modus operandi. It's her thang, and she's gonna do what she wants to do. :COP: Had she wanted to do any differently, she woulda done so by now.

As I said before, I’m not a huge fan of Brennan. I appreciate her articles that expose real issues in sports, but I could gladly do without the petty things in between.
I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that USA Today wants Brennan to consistently provide sports articles if she expects to get paid, so she throws together these little scandalous articles to keep the boss happy. (However, that still doesn’t make it right). Journalism shouldn’t be a business, but the sad truth is that it is.
 

Yazmeen

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Sigh. Tara and Johnny definitely have strong, healthy egos. And I don't see anything wrong with that. You better have a strong ego if you want to be successful in figure skating, forget about tackling a commentating career with a big network. ;)...
...In any case, kudos to healthy egos! :40beers:

A healthy ego is one thing; but Miss "I won the Olympic gold medal, no-one can take that away from me" (rinse and repeat) and Mr. "Being shocking/fabulous was more important than my skating" passed "healthy" a long time ago.
 

japanice

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Those criticizing Christine Brennan might want to read this. A few months back she won the highest honor in sports journalism from her peers.

 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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Those criticizing Christine Brennan might want to read this. A few months back she won the highest honor in sports journalism from her peers.


Oh dear God, that was the worst piece of humblebrag I've ever read.

Perfect Cheshire Cat photo of Ms Brennan, though.
 

olympic

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A healthy ego is one thing; but Miss "I won the Olympic gold medal, no-one can take that away from me" (rinse and repeat) and Mr. "Being shocking/fabulous was more important than my skating" passed "healthy" a long time ago.

I think she was the first skater to win OGM and be in the shadow of the OSM. It has probably made her irritable and cranky.

Johnny’s flamboyance outshone his skating, but he doesn’t seem to be the jealous type, just overall bitchy
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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I think she was the first skater to win OGM and be in the shadow of the OSM. It has probably made her irritable and cranky.

Even Grace and Jack think Kwan was robbed.

 

overedge

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I think she was the first skater to win OGM and be in the shadow of the OSM. It has probably made her irritable and cranky.

Anette Potzsch might disagree with you, given that there was so much fuss about her beating Linda Fratianne. But I don't think Anette would generally be characterized as irritable and cranky.
 

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