I’ve never really written about Wolf Blitzer’s pre-Wizards-game “Situation Room” reports. My sense is that some fans found these annoying hokey, perpetrating a cliched vision of what D.C. sports fans care about. And that some fans found these charmingly of-and-for Washington, a nod to the city’s power and stature. And that most fans didn’t arrive at Verizon Center until midway through the first quarter, and so never saw these at all.
But now Fox News’s Bret Baier is evidently also doing “Special Reports” before some Wizards games. The Wednesday night version featured Baier talking about the Greg Monroe-Nene matchup. The script itself was flawlessly bland. But at least one local writer wondered whether bringing up even a faint reference to Washington’s partisan divide might be bad for business.
So here’s where I stand.
1) Washington sports teams, for decades, have boasted big-time media members and political elites as among their most famous fans. That continues to this day: from David Gregory to Chris Wallace, from Ben Bernanke to Mitch McConnell, from Alan Greenspan to Chuck Todd, and yes, from Bret Baier to Wolf Blitzer. This is lame.
2) I mean, no offense to any of these wonderfully powerful people. Like most of you, I love living in Washington. Like many of you, I would almost definitely take a selfie with Wolf Blitzer if I saw him at Sweetgreen. But there’s really no denying that having your most famous and visible mega sports fans consist of political and media elites in dark suits and red ties is the very definition of lame. It’s like opening a snazzy new food truck, and bragging that your most exciting and marketable item is extremely fancy sourdough toast, served with a free cup of sparkling water. No offense.
3) Incidentally, any pre-game sports hype introduction video that calls Washington “the most powerful city in the world” is also lame. People go to sporting events out of civic pride. Civic pride in Washington does not consist of pride in the federal government’s ability to tax stuff, or to blow stuff up.
4) As a side note, let me point out that I love Comcast SportsNet’s pregame and postgame Redskins coverage. I really do. Those are probably my favorite television programs. But the weekly “Voice of the Fan” segments featuring Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is the single worst thing I watch every week. When I want to hear the voice of the Redskins fan, I want to hear hyperventilating sports-radio rants about backup quarterbacks, parking-lot price hikes, and inevitable Super Bowl berths. I do not want to hear from Maryland’s Attorney General. If the voice of the fan is a politician in a suit on a TV set, then that voice needs to come with a mute button. No offense.
5) Is Wolf Blitzer’s show non-partisan? I don’t really watch it enough to say. Surely, there are those who find Wolf Blitzer partisan in one way or another. I’m not sure how much passion this elicits, though.
6) Is Bret Baier’s show non-partisan? I don’t really watch it enough to say. But again, surely there are those who find the Fox News label evocative of Washington’s workaday partisan battles, the sort of stuff that divides people in this community, rather than unites them. Here are screengrabs from Baier on Fox News, and from Baier on Monumental Sports. There’s a resemblance.
7) No, I don’t really care about this very much. So don’t accuse me of making a big deal out of nothing. Please observe that I’ve devoted as many resources and as much passion to this item as I did to an item about John Wall giving up hamburgers, and to one about Kevin Seraphin volunteering to autograph dogs.
8) But you know what? All things being equal, I think local sports teams could come up with pre-game videos that don’t rely on the same TV sets, the same graphics, the same tropes, and the same faces and voices that fill Washington’s political shows. Even if we are nothing more than people in dark suits and red ties arguing about debt ceilings and tariff duties, sporting events let us pretend otherwise for a few minutes. Let’s maybe not ruin that illusion with any extra Special Reports.