Part 4 of 5: “Bought off” Media & the Power of Partnership: Flogging the flag

January 30, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

my opinions to myself?”

There’s NO chance that’s going to happen with me or with while I have a breath left in my body.

But you know who WILL endorse it?

Yep…you guessed it! Just about EVERYBODY else!

WBAL did for years, until it got nasty between Jeff Beauchamp, Ed Kiernan & the Angelos boys. When we did Free The Birds, you could hear the chant “Free The Birds” for about 75 minutes all during the radio broadcast of the game. When I left the stadium there were news crews downtown covering the protest. But the Orioles broadcasters NEVER made mention of the event but immediately following the game threw back to the WBAL-AM studios calling themselves “Maryland’s news leader.”

Journalism? Not really…

And now Bob Phillips – the “real” king of Baltimore sports media stars – is happy to keep his country club membership while hiring “experts” like Anita Marks to bring you what’s “really” happening in Baltimore sports. Or worse yet, Phillips has taken formerly respected media personalities and told them to “tell it like it is, but keep your opinions to yourself.”

Phillips and CBS Radio are so busy alternately create love & hate for the Ravens that I honestly can’t figure it out — love for the players and their fame and money and hate for the purple management and ownership. Gameday Uncensored. Anita Marks as an “expert.” Mark Viviano doing a love in from the field in Westminster and post-game video via MASN from the bowels of M&T Bank Stadium, where the Ravens unwittingly went into business with Angelos only to have pre-game shows not exist in part of the first season of the arrangement.

Meanwhile, poor Scott Garceau seems to be pining away to do play-by-play again, waiting for the folks at WBAL and Hearst on TV Hill to go out of business and allow Bob Phillips to get his hands back onto the exorbitant rights fees of the Ravens that have driven both WBAL & 98 Rock into being nearly broke and Steve Davis and the aforementioned Beauchamp to be on the unemployment line.

We now live in an era where cheaters and liars and thieves can run rampant, even in our local government. And when they do, people like Phillips are there to offer them a job doing radio to “set the record straight.” I wonder what day part Sheila Dixon will host come 2011 at CBS Radio?

In sports, there’s national outrage over steroid scandals and crooked referees and Tiger Woods’ sex life.

But in Baltimore, where the steroid scandal played a massive role, there was no investigation into any of the Orioles’ links by the local media. Most people in baseball would tell you the Orioles were the epicenter of the steroid scandal. From Rafael Palmeiro to Jason Grimsley to David Segui to Sammy Sosa to Brian Roberts to Larry Bigbie to Jay Gibbons, the Camden Yards clubhouse was the epitome of the problem in the sport five years ago yet no one here even took on the issue because of Angelos’ mandates and the banning of people like me have what’s left of the “media” in town frightened to speak their minds for fear of losing their career.

And as I stated on Tuesday, I get it. These people have families to feed, children in school, bills to pay like the rest of us.

And as you can well imagine, Angelos’ people routinely pick up the phone and tell people not to do business with WNST. They did it on Monday after Part One of this series.

But where would the sports world be without investigative reporting? Where will this country be when the people who are counted on to catch the cheaters are threatened to “tell it like it is, but keep your opinions to yourself.”

Who would catch crooked NBA referees, and billionaire golfers who claim to be squeaky clean and a role model and then cheat on their wives at every turn? Who would be the ones to investigate BALCO and the likes of Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa?

But we also live in a world where people can write anonymous graffiti on the internet or unaccountable, un-credentialed and uninformed bloggers can accuse anyone of using steroids or far worse. We have fans shooting pictures of inebriated athletes, philandering celebrities and coaches with middle fingers.

We even have crooked reporters at the New York Times who are stealing stories and making up fictional essays and presenting them as facts.

But there’s nothing worse, in my mind, than a media organization passing itself off as a credible source of “news” or “friends you can turn to” or “community watchdogs” and then taking a paycheck as hush money by the sports teams and somehow making a “flagship” status sound like that access is somehow valuable when it mutes the most powerful credibility-builder of them all: telling the truth and giving a balanced assessment of a topic or issue.

In the sports media world it’s almost criminal what’s happening here, especially when you consider the immense cash flow of the baseball team and its community-gifted gold mine called MASN.

“Mister Angelos and Sons Network”…

“Making Absurd Sums for Nothing”…

Whatever you refer to it as, just know this:

They are PRINTING money and are into everyone in the state’s pocketbook for civic, media welfare via your cable bill. And all because Bug Selig couldn’t figure out how to make baseball work in Montreal, and Washington, D.C. was the only other place that wanted the Expos (outside of Puerto Rico, where they hosted game for several years before quitting).

Angelos killed baseball enthusiasm in Baltimore. Washington fans left and eventually got the team. Selig and MLB legal team got nervous when Angelos threatened litigation over territorial rights, Comcast got bent over in court by crooked judges and the rest is history. Angelos controls all of the money, both teams’ survival really, because he makes money no matter what. Even when the team loses 98 games, he gets his $110 million annually. And the MLB owners gave him an astonishing “floor” price of $335 million – twice what he paid for the franchise.

Modern day radio play-by-play in Baltimore is all but worthless. No one listens to the games. (Hell, no one goes to the games!) There are no direct sales outlets for the games. And the internet access and checking scores on mobile devices has all but eliminated anyone’s need to “run out to the car” to check the score, like we used to do in the 1970s.

Now, the Orioles rest at CBS Radio via 105.7 “The Fan.” They have hosts whose bread was buttered several years ago from criticizing the Orioles and Angelos the way I do – that is, until the rights fell into the hands of Bob Phillips, who is more interested in squeezing money out of the Orioles than in doing the right thing for the city, which has been broken on summer nights due to the ineptitude and mean-spiritedness of the people who run the team.

Sure, the Orioles lost 98 games. The fans of the team lost 98 games. The players lost 98 games.

But Angelos MADE $40 million in 2009 on the Orioles and our tax dollars.

So, who is going to report that besides us?

Oh, that’s right. Or write? The Baltimore Sun – the “newspaper of record,” who has signage in the stadium, orange ads in their slimmed down sports section and a skybox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

I’m sure THEY’RE gonna tell Baltimore the truth while they’re in bankruptcy and gutting their editorial staff?

And I love how all of these “traditional” media pretend we don’t exist. See yesterday’s piece and Part 3 for more on that.

We’re the “guys down the dial” or “that little AM radio station” which cracks me up, because we’re NOT a radio station. If you’re reading these very words you KNOW we have power beyond the AM radio station the federal government affords me with antiquated 1948 rules. You’re reading my words here – not hearing them in the car on your radio — because the internet is powerful.

No one EVER mentions my name or they would dare break the news that we actually exist and the fact that we’re telling the truth. But as I’ve said many times before, I’ll ENCOURAGE you to visit them. We’re better than them. And we’ll prove it every hour of every day by competing, breaking news, giving you honest and accurate information loaded with expertise and authenticity and integrity.

But they think this is the right way to do business. Maybe it is if you’re Bob Phillips and you’re just trying to make your quarterly numbers for the stockholders. But probably not, in my mind, if you care to create a brand that people trust and will turn to for the next 25 years.

Recently a sports official told me – as if it was GOSPEL – that the Baltimore Sun is on 230,000 doorsteps every morning in our state. THAT, I find about as hard to believe as the 18,000 who regularly come to Camden Yards disguised as about 10,000 to anyone’s eyes who have ever estimated crowds in stadiums. It’s beyond laughable.

But the bigger the fake numbers, the more money they can all make.

So if you think that these media “monoliths” – the same ones who have no integrity in reporting on broadcast partners (and as we showed you above, they’re all kinda interconnected and sleeping together in one way or another) — are not above adjusting the odometer for their financial benefit then I have some non-floodable property for you in New Orleans.

Yet here comes the great equalizer: the world wide web.

And we’re trying to make it – and the information we give you as independent, caring local journalists — better.

You can let us know how we can be better – and judge the local sports media for yourself.

We’re building this company for the Baltimore sports fans.

Who do you trust in 2010?

Where do you get your information and who is “greasing” whom?

As Paul Harvey once said, “Now you know the rest of the story…”

Our FINAL class has been postponed until Tuesday: The future? Where is this all heading in a world of ever-evolving personal communication and connection.