The Media Learning Curve: Sept. 24-Oct. 1

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The fact that CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, more famous recently for her “Black in America” series (linked here) for the cable news network, would land the first major post-Cavs TV interview with LeBron James and his marketing man Maverick Carter can be the prism through which we look at the transcript of their chat the other night.

The archived transcripts from CNN’s Wednesday “PrimeTime” show are on the network’s website (linked here) but were pared down at SportsByBrooks.com (linked here), under the headline “LeBron Says Racism Factor In ‘Decision’ Backlash.” Which allows us to read:

O’BRIEN (on camera): Do you think there’s a role that race plays in this.

JAMES: I think so at times. It’s always, you know, a race factor.

CARTER: It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written for sure.

No follow up?

No further explanation from James or Carter?

You’ve agreed with the premise of the race card played by the media, but have no examples, no further comment about it …

Let’s talk about it … Oh, you’ve said all you want to say about it? Now you’ve left it open to further interpretation. In a bad, stupid, unproductive way.

How much more are you going to mishandle this decision to move on?

It goes further:

O’BRIEN (voice-over): LeBron James and Maverick Carter say what does bother them is that lost amid the controversy is the fact that “The Decision” TV program raised $3 million for Boys & Girls Club of America.

CARTER: We own the advertising time. We went out and sold it to brands and we took every dime and donated it to charity.

SportsByBrooks.com’s Brooks Melchior points out that “Carter was incorrect in stating that ‘every dime’ of the ad revenue from the TV broadcast announcing James’ free agent intentions was given to charity. Reporter Jim Gray has confirmed publicly that he received a ‘stipend’ from the James camp for his appearance on the program.”

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Still, this whole thing stinks to high Heat heck, and it’s offensive that James and/or Carter would even answer O’Brien’s question about that — unless she was put up to it.

Was she even listening? Did she even watch ‘The Decision’ on ESPN — which she never references?

(We do enjoy this part of the transcript, though, as the segment started):

O’BRIEN (voice-over): It was billed as “The Decision.” Close to 10 million people tuned in to watch NBA superstar LeBron James announce the team he’d signed with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LeBron, what’s your decision?

JAMES: In this fall, man, this is very tough — in this fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.

This apparently means CNN has no idea who Jim Gray is.

Meaning, from now on, identifying Gray as “unidentified male” is appropriate.

We try to move forward with far more mundane sports media notes that didn’t make it into today’s newspaper and Internet edition (linked here), as we are watching the first day of the Ryder Cup while it’s very dark outside:

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== DirecTV’s “NFL Sunday Ticket” premium service will be offered as part of JetBlue flights starting this Sunday (as long as you’re flying in the continental U.S.), the companies announced. JetBlue has been using DirecTV programming since 2000.

== Carter Blackburn, Brock Huard, Mike Bellotti and Shelley Smith are on the broadcast team doing the USC-Washington football game from the Coliseum (5 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN3.com).

== Bill Macdonald, James Washington and Rebecca Haarlow are on the FSW coverage of UCLA-Washington State from the Rose Bowl. Patrick O’Neal and JJ Stokes will man the pre- and post-game shows.

== Chris McGee and John Jackson call tonight’s Westlake Village-Oaks Christian high school football game on FSW at 8:30 p.m.

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== CBS NFL analyst Phil Simms, who’ll be doing the Baltimore-Pittsburgh game with Jim Nantz (Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 2), misses out in attending a halftime ceremony during the New York Giants’ game Sunday against Chicago honoring 30 into their Ring of Honor. Fox delivers Carolina at New Orleans (Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 11 with Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa) and Washington-Philadelphia (Sunday, 1 p.m., Channel 11, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, instead of Arizona at San Diego).

== Buck has to jet out of Boston on Saturday, after doing the Red Sox’s home game against the New York Yankees, to make it to Philly for the Sunday NFL game. L.A. viewers of Fox MLB on Saturday get San Diego-San Francisco instead at 1 p.m. (with Josh Lewin and Mark Grace). For the final weekend of the MLB season, the MLB Network has Philadelphia at Atlanta tonight (4:30 p.m.) and then San Diego at San Francisco (7 p.m.), taking the home-feed broadcasts. Later Saturday, the MLB Network optis for Tampa Bay at Kansas City (4 p.m.).

== ESPN’s next “30 For 30″ documentary is an MLB-produced ditty called “Four Days in October,” recalling the Boston Red Sox’s comeback from an 0-3 deficit against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series of 2004 that launched them to their first World Series title in a bajillion years. Not just archived coverage, but this will have never-before-seen footage from multiple Red Sox players’ personal camcorders — including seeing Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling pull back the bandage on his injured ankle prior to the now-famous “bloody sock game” in Game Six to reveal the after-effects of the surgery he endured in order to pitch. The episode first airs Tuesday at 5 p.m. on ESPN, the day before the MLB playoffs begin on TBS.

== From Hannah Storm and Linda Cohn to Chris McKendry and Sage Steel, a rare moment in ESPN Women’s History, and neither Sara Walsh nor Michelle Bonner are involved? (linked here)

== Considering it took ESPN.com ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer a couple of weeks to finally chime in on the Jay Mariotti arrest and the controversy around the column from ESPNLosAngeles.com reporter Arash Markazi about LeBron James in Las Vegas that was killed, we thought we’d get around to finally mentioning that we did read it (linked here) and thought it was more amusing to comb through the reactions to it.
The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre (linked here): “After nearly a 60-day summer siesta, Don Ohlmeyer … waited far too long to address these issues, as both are stale and nobody cares about Mariotti until his next court date.”
A response to McIntyre’s response, from “illformula”: “i know i’m in the minority here, but every “story” involving media members bores the s–t out of me.”

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== And a head’s up to Ohlmeyer, who in 1997 when he was the NBC executive suggested Norm Macdonald be fired as the “Saturday Night Live” Weekend Update host because he thought Macdonald just was “not funny” — Macdonald is helping create “a ‘Daily Show’ for sports” on Comedy Central, according to various reports (linked here).
Strange, in that Comedy Central has already supposedly been supporting a sports-related satire show from The Onion that’s been in production.

== NHL preview show alert: FSW sizes up the Kings at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, while Prime Ticket has the Ducks’ show at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

== Take a trip inside the Dodgers’ Sports Lab (linked here) with the team’s VP of Broadcasting Lauryn Lukin.

== Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton (not his name is bumped to the 10 a.m.-to-2 p.m. slot on XX Sports Radio in San Diego, replaced in the afternoon-drive slot by Darren Smith when the station reformats its fall lineup starting Monday, according to Jay Posner at the San Diego Union Tribune. Hamilton has been an afternoon staple for most of the last 23 years he’s been doing sports-talk in San Diego on various stations.
Posner also reports that ESPN Radio, which had been on XX Sports, will move to San Diego 1700 (XEPE-AM) starting Oct. 6 to coincide with the MLB playoffs.

== Deadspin.com asks: How did Ken Burns skip the Ugueth Urbina angle from “Tenth Inning”? This oughta cover it (linked here).

== AND FINALLY:

== To promote the Oct. 8 release of “The Body Issue” in ESPN’s magazine, ESPN2 will air a one-hour special on Monday (from 4-to-5 p.m.) so that viewers can join in the “celebration and exploration of the athletic form, honoring athletes of diverse shapes, sizes, colors, genders and race.”

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Amanda Beard (at right, if you couldn’t figure that out), Rudy Garcia-Tolson, Randy Couture and Nate Robinson (not pictured at right) are featured in the special, which uses CGI and body-mapping technology to show how each has become strong and faster in their sports.

There are 40 athletes who agreed to be photographed in some sort of nude way or another for the magazine. They include the U.S. women’s water polo team, the WNBA’s Diana Taurasi, billiards’ Jeanette Lee, skiier Julia Mancuso, javelin athlete Rachel Yurkovich, volleyball standout Kim Glass, the NBA’s Amare Stoudemire, figure skater Evan Lysacek, former NFL star and current MMA fighter Herschel Walker, surfer Kelly Slater (isn’t he already pretty much naked?), the NFL’s Patrick Willis

And masters track and field standout Phillipa Raschker, who hardly looks her age — 63. The magazine will no doubt prove that.

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