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Posted at 05:20 PM ET, 04/12/2011

Ted Leonsis vs. ESPN 980

You know what this is like? It’s like how everyone says Rex Ryan creates media circuses so that all the pressure and attention is on him and his scruffy scrappy Jets can then fly under the playoff radar and beat lots of teams until they lose to other teams. That’s what this is like.

Because with the playoffs dawning and the pressure on the Caps, it is apparently Ted Leonsis Media Feud time! Fun!

Part I: Thom Loverro writes obscure blog item

I love Thom Loverro and appreciate many of his pieces, wherever they appear, but no offense, this obscure and fairly silly blog item predicting that John Calipari could be a longshot future coach of the Wizards was not one of them. This was apparently the offensive part:

I think the Lockouts/Wizards job remains a possibility for Calipari. I think it would be a mistake for Ted Leonsis, but it would certainly bring some attention to this invisible franchise.

Shocking, no?

Part II: Ted Leonsis responds via blog

And he brings the big stick to this fight:

I find it ironic that this station doesn’t really cover the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards as they are owned by the local football team. They have lost an entire generation of sports fans because of that lack of programming sensibility as I predicted. Media properties need to generate a big audience by covering a large swath of listener interest. This station and its personalities - for the most part - don’t like hockey, pro basketball, baseball or soccer. They would never write an article like this about the football team. I doubt the writer would have the gumption to do so. And I find it ironic that an AM radio station - which I can’t hear at night because of static - calls a fast growing NBA team “invisible.” That is funny.

Well, that’s not very subtle, is it? And it comes directly on the heels of ESPN 980’s director of programming Chuck Sapienza strongly denying that Dan Snyder has anything to do with 980’s programming choices:

“Dan Snyder is not involved with the day to day programming of our station. He does not mandate what is covered or discussed. Anyone that says that is totally inaccurate.”

Needless to say, people at 980 are sensitive about this charge and likely to respond.

Part III: Loverro and his partner, Kevin Sheehan, respond

And they did so at great length, starting with Loverro calling Leonsis “the Citizen Kane of the internet.” Highlights, taken from a segment that lasted nearly 15 minutes:

Loverro: “Look, here’s something that Ted should know about the internet: on the internet you write what you think. In a newspaper, you think about what you write. Ted could have used a little editing on this one....”

Loverro: “The idea that I wouldn’t have the gumption to write a story like this about the Redskins when I wrote in 2009 consistently about the embarrassment of Vinny Cerrato running the franchise, the whole embarrassment with the Zorn thing and with Sherman Lewis being called into to call the plays, constantly, week after week after week. And I’ve hammered the Redskins about the way they’ve handled the Albert Haynesworth thing throughout the whole season, so that’s not accurate. Now, I know accuracy’s not a big thing on the internet, but I’m kind of used to it....”

Loverro: “And as far as being invisible, c’mon, how could you possibly be offended by that on a night where reportedly 70 percent of the fans in the stands for the Wizards-Celtics game were Celtics fans? I watched the game last night. Every time a Wizard went to the foul line, he was booed. Talk about invisible....”

Sheehan: “Nearly none of what he wrote in this morning’s blog item is true, all right? It’s [almost] all inaccurate. It’s all factually wrong. But my sense is he probably knows this, and I think he was just emotional and reacted to what you wrote. He figured let’s kill two birds with one stone, the second bird being that his team’s games are on competing radio stations, and why not take a shot at one of their competitors and not let the facts get in the way of a good story....”

Sheehan: “And for him to sort of get into trying to run our business or to program our business, I would never suggest to him how to run AOL or how to run the Wizards business-wise....For him to sort of say that they’ve lost a whole generation of sports fans because of that lack of programming sensibility, as I predicted? Don’t program for us, thank you very much. We appreciate your suggestions, but don’t tell us how to run our business and we won’t tell you how to run yours.”

Loverro: “Anyone who would pretend to want Andray Blatche on your roster shouldn’t be allowed to watch basketball, is too stupid to watch basketball. If you watch Andray Blatche for any length of time, how could you possibly sit there and say to your fans that he’s part of a big three? That’s an insult. That insults my intelligence....I mean, there’s a point where you’re trying to prop up your product, but you don’t insult your fans, however few existing there are left.”

Sheehan: “The biggest sort of fallacy, the biggest myth is that because the [Redskins] owner is part of a group that owns this radio station, that we’re not critical of the Redskins. We’ve all been critical of the Redskins whenever it’s been appropriate for years, every single person on this station has been that. And Ted -- with all due respect, because you come from a forward-thinking business -- but that’s yesterday’s thinking. That’s four years ago thinking, until people started to listen to the station and realize it’s just not true...”

Loverro: “The one thing that was personal, though, is he said I didn’t have the gumption to write an article. I mean, basically he’s calling me a coward. When you put something down, when you write something down -- and people who write blogs don’t seem to have a concept of this -- it takes on a whole different meaning.”

Ok then. Ted, your turn.

By  |  05:20 PM ET, 04/12/2011

Categories:  Caps, Media, Wizards

 
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