Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Easterbrook Fiasco

What a kerfuffle! As I'm sure everyone has heard now, Gregg Easterbrook has stirred up a tempest with one of his recent blogg entries. (The blog itself is in my blogroll on the right, near the bottom unless he has started pinging blogrolling). I read the entry a few days ago, and I honestly can't remember that it struck me as particularly anti-semitic. On the other hand, he was reviewing a movie that I will probably never see, so I skimmed the entry pretty lightly.

Cut to the last couple of days, and suddenly everyone is up in arms about it. In fact, ESPN went so far as to fire him, claiming his anti-semitism as its justification. Whatever -- it's their website and they can do as they please, right? OK, I did like the column for the most part, and I hope that someone else picks it up, perhaps Slate its former publisher, or Salon, or something.

Now an e-mail by Easterbrook is circulating in which he claims that Michael Eisner has it in for him since he criticized him by name in the blog, and arranged to have him fired from the ESPN job. One might take this as just paranoid ranting, and yet ESPN appears to have not only fired him, but to have scrubbed him from its archives, as if he never actually wrote anything for them. Completely -- a search for "Easterbrook' produces nothing, a search for "haiku" produces insignificant results. It is rather bizarre, and rather chilling. Were "ESPN -- the website" a regular print publication, the TMQ columns would remain. They would be bound in libraries and gathering dust on shelves somewhere. Instead, TMQ has become an un-column, unsearchable, unreadable, lost.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but to me this is a strong argument against media gigantism. The ability of a single media entity to render a writer's body of work gone on a whim argues that no organization should be able to control as much of the media as some of today's giants do. With a little more merging, Eisner would be able to wipe out Easterbrook's future as a writer as well as parts of his past, simply because he feels slighted by a minor entry in a relatively minor blog.

I'd have some links in here, but my ISP seems to be having DNS issues at the moment, and I can only link to small parts of the world. If I remember, I'll try to add some links later on.