1st Post

This post on 6 October, 2006 was On Frozen Blog‘s first. It is in a certain sense the driving force behind OFB’s formation. We felt it should not only be in the archives, but set aside and distinguished on its own, accessed easily from the home page. It is, if you will, our Declaration of Independence. And of Revolutionary action.

The text of the first post is below:

Axis of Media Evil

By pucksandbooks

Mr. Smith went to Washington to reform politics. Lodged in greater Washington, D.C., a barren outpost of hockey media silence thanks to the malicious disinterest of The Washington Post (henceforth referred to as The Compost), among others, I am venturing into cyberspace to broaden my hometown’s coverage of the planet’s greatest game, and especially of my mistress since my seventh birthday, the Washington Capitals. Thus the birth of On Frozen Blog. Welcome.

Within just the past few days, Capitals’ owner Ted Leonsis went Donald Brashear on this region’s MSM for this shameful state of affairs [http://dc.metblogs.com/archives/2006/10/leonsis_draft.phtml] (Since MetBlogs is dead, head over to William World News for the Leonsis text). May it be merely the opening rounds of artillery in a years-too-long delayed offensive. Anyway, Leonsis artfully called out the usual suspects, and concurrently he signaled his team’s open arms to impassioned and faithful bloggers.

The general climate is thus: May through August, when Capitals’ players are home in Canada and Europe for the offseason, The Compost can be counted upon to generate zilch in its coverage of Caps’ hockey and the sport in general. Basically an entire calendar season without a word of puck. The Compost does have a full-time beat reporter for the team, Tarik El-Bashir, but by all appearances he’s fairly allowed to spend his summer sauntering the Ocean City, Md., boardwalk; if he’s in The Compost’s 15th St. office 40 hours each week then I can’t fathom how he is passing his time.

Tarik is hardly a sole source of blame at The Compost. Anyone who’s read the paper for a month is thoroughly versed in columnist Michael Wilbon’s status there as get-whitey grievance guru, which is in lockstep with the paper’s post-Watergate guiding editorial ethos. His columnist colleague, the omnipresent balding broadcast blowhard, is famous for demanding credentials for three or four Caps’ games a year and sauntering straight from the press box buffet to a lounge to watch televised basketball.

Really, it’s a paper skilled at generating mutlimedia celebrity but conspicuously derelict and deficient achieving what it is supposed to.

In season, when training camp commences in mid-September and the team’s 82 games run through April, The Compost and The Washington Times can be counted upon to chronicle the team’s results, and along the way — on off days here and there — offer up a handful of player feature files. We holding journalism degrees call this: the bare minimum.

And it’s been tolerated for at least a decade.

No more. Not here.

Now Dave Fay of The Times is a veritable newshound of hockey relative to Tarik. He’s been on the beat there for more than 20 years; covering the Caps is in his DNA. He, too, though isn’t moved much to file in the offseason. I will say this about the competing papers, and it goes to the heart of this lament: the night-and-day ideological discrepancies between them extend, in my opinion, to their respective treatment of hockey and the Caps. The paucity of coverage and the sneering derisiveness of The Compost is highly suggestive to me that it basically regards hockey a sport played almost entirely by white men and as such is worthy only of contempt and exclusion. They’d never own up to this in print of course, but its white-space-on-puck speaks volumes.

To wit: The NHL opened it season this past Wednesday, and on that morning, while USA Today incorporated an entire free-standing section to the league in its edition, and while The Washington Times, with the Caps not opening until the following evening, devoted fully three pages of sports section to the NHL, Tarik and The Compost could manage no more than one single paragraph acknowledging the start of the new season. Journalistic malfeasance.

And it wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, way back in the 1980s, The Compost had one of the best in the business covering the Caps, the late great Robert Fachet. In some other file I’ll wax poetic about the halcyon days of Fachet in print and Ron Weber up in WTOP’s broadcast booth.

Speaking of radio, Washington has one sports radio outlet, WTEM. For the region’s hockey fans, its call letters are WREDSKINS. Recently, its program manager, Andy Pollin, more or less told Caps’ fans on the air to go have sex with themselves if they didn’t think the team was getting its fair shake there. I’d link the discussion thread of this stunning act of arrogance, but it’s been deleted from the Caps’ official site message boards. But just tune into Pollin once in a while and his family’s longstanding loathing of the Caps will surface.

On TV, things are just as bleak. The local 11:00 p.m. sportscasts sometimes fail to offer even individual games results from that night. That would be unheard of for any of the region’s other professional teams. The dean of all the TV sports talking heads, George Michael of Channel 4, is (in)famous for pimping NASCAR and rodeo to a metropolitan region with no legacy of interest in either. What meager clips we do get on local TV are the predictable formula of who scored a goal or two hurriedly squished into the sportscast’s final 40 seconds.

I will not indict every local television personality on the hockey front. She generates a special beat in my hockey heart. Stay tuned.