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The Rant

ESPN's simulated press conferences are embarrassing

Posted: Monday November 14, 2005 12:37PM; Updated: Monday November 14, 2005 12:37PM
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I understand the need to come up with new and interesting ways to present news and views. (After all, I'm presenting this in rant form.) But someone needs to make ESPN cut it out with the simulated press conferences they now stage on SportsCenter.

If you haven't seen them, analyst Steve Phillips, who wasn't terribly convincing in his stint as the Mets actual GM, portrays the GM of a particular team (or, in one recent case, of "MLB GM," which makes no sense) and fields questions from the network's reporters, who by and large do a wonderful job of masking the fact that they are being stripped of their dignity in front of our eyes.

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Some have argued that this further blurs the line between news and entertainment. To that I say, impossible, because these segments operate nowhere near the realm of entertainment. If any lines are being blurred, it's those between news and crap.

For starters, the press conferences they stage in no way resemble real press conferences. They have strobe lights going off constantly and reporters jockey to ask questions like they're trying to outmuscle Helen Thomas for the right to fire off the first inquiry. Unless you're interviewing the leader of the free world or, perhaps, Britney Spears, that's not the way press conferences tend to go down. Every seat is filled, God knows how. (Imagine the indignity of being a seat filler at a fake press conference.) And as an actor, Phillips is one step above android on the charisma scale. He recites scripted, canned answers; if he wanted to be believable, he wouldn't know them ahead of time and he'd consider his responses.

But, really, what would be the point? The idea is so ridiculous, so ill-befitting of a news program, that even if the fake conferences perfectly mimicked the originals they would still be out of place. Please, let's have Kenny Mayne act as a simulated club president and issue a simulated edict banning this nonsense.

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