The DSR's Justin Spiro's take on the Michael Rosenberg/3 and Out situation from an MSU fan's perspective.
I wanted to finish John Bacon’s, Three and Out before I sat down and wrote an article on the Michael Rosenberg/Michigan Football issue. I couldn’t.
I write to you having read about 150 pages of the book, which is 150 more pages than I needed to conclude Michael Rosenberg is the most deplorable journalist working in the United States today.
I recently graduated from Michigan State with a degree in journalism. I do not share this fact to position myself as an expert, rather, I believe it is relevant to my thoughts for two reasons.
First, there are few people in the country today more dedicated to Michigan State than I am. I have confronted people for dropping their trash on the East Lansing campus, convinced their decision to litter was a profound show of disrespect to anyone that had ever cared to make it a beautiful place.
When I first transferred to Michigan State from Central Michigan, I fell so deeply in love with the school that I took one night each week to walk the campus. I would leave my apartment around midnight and not return until close to 2 am, often times seeing no more than a few people.
I have traveled all over the country to watch the school compete in athletic competitions. I had MSU Hockey season tickets in 2008-2009 when the team was 10-23-5 and played so horribly that head coach Rick Comley ran a story in the student-run State News pleading for anyone with high school hockey experience to try out. And no one bothered. Yet, there I sat in Munn Ice Arena, watching a team that made District 5 from the first Mighty Ducks movie seem like a powerhouse.
Most important, to this article anyway, is that I loathe the University of Michigan. I revel in their defeats, particularly when they come at the hand of Michigan State. My joyous celebration of USC’s 2007 Rose Bowl triumph over the Wolverines was so obnoxious that a Michigan fan asked where I lived and pronounced his plans to “be in jail tonight”.
Without shame, I concede that I hate the Michigan fan base and take joy in their misery.
But when Michael Rosenberg and Mark Snyder’s “investigative report” was published in late August of 2009, I just could not get on board with the perception Michigan had done anything wrong. The headline promised a tale of gross disregard for NCAA rules and suggested major violations were taking place under head coach Rich Rodriguez. I immediately became excited and clicked the link to read the article. After finishing it, I remember pausing to ask myself, “Wait, what did they do again?” It took me another reading of the article to realize the headline had given me Spartan fan blue balls. No way this would lead to anything serious, right?
Well, as Bacon has explained in Three and Out, it did not matter that Rosenberg and Snyder’s report was a significant reach in its grand portrait of Rodriguez as a renegade. A newspaper was alleging “major violations” by the winningest college football program in the country. That was all it took for this to become a national story.
My background in journalism is somewhat relevant to my perspective as well. There are plenty of places to read details of the Rosenberg report – yes I am giving him most of the “credit” – and why his facts were embarrassingly insufficient to allege major violations against Rodriguez. No source is better than Bacon’s book itself, a must read for any fan of college sports or any aspiring journalist. I do not wish to re-hash the errors in Rosenberg’s logic. This column is long enough without me repeating these.
The fact that Rosenberg’s column was absolute garbage is not my greatest concern. Even if it involved a legitimate story worthy of pursuing, he had no business being the one to investigate and deliver the story to the public. Why? Because he had demonstrated to colleagues and affiliates of the University of Michigan football program that he had a strong personal dislike for Rodriguez. THAT is the major issue here. Rosenberg can say whatever he wants about the legitimacy of his report. That is fine. The fact is, Rodriguez could have been molesting children in Schembechler Hall and filming it (Archbishop Rushman TM), it STILL would not have been Rosenberg’s story to tell. If he discovered some horrible truth about Rodriguez, he should have passed it on to a colleague to pursue.
In my second semester at Michigan State, a classmate of mine received a 0 on a story she had written. Why? Her story was a fluff piece in which her only “sources” were her roommates. It is heavily emphasized in journalism school that we are to be emotionally divorced from our sources. Even convicted murderers are treated with the utmost respect in print. Any journalist pining for the murderer’s execution to colleagues would certainly be removed from consideration when it came time to assign the story.
Rosenberg telling anyone that would listen that he “just didn’t like” Rodriguez immediately disqualified him from ever writing a balanced report on the coach. A column is vastly different from a story. Rosenberg is a columnist by trade, and was well within his bounds to pen a scathing column about Rodriguez if he so chose. That is not what we were given on August 29, 2009. Rather, we were given an “investigative report”, a form of journalism that by industry rule must be without bias and devoid of any previous or current emotional attachment. Rosenberg’s comments on Rodriguez, revealed in Bacon’s book, clearly disqualified him from consideration in writing any investigative piece on the man or his program.
Whatever you may think of Rosenberg’s report, the point is he was not the appropriate person to write it. Period. There is no debate. If there is one journalism professor at either school that disagrees with me and is willing to publish their opinion, I will videotape the desecration of my diploma and post it in this space. That is a promise.
<-- HUGE LOSER
The Free Press was cowardly throughout this entire process, quickly pushing Rosenberg off on Michigan State in the first weeks of the 2009 football season. Michigan fans were furious and would never have been responsive to a Rosenberg column. Although, I suppose you could consider death threats to be, “responsive”.
My fan base was stuck with the guy’s embarrassing attempts at humor for at least a month. The transparent shielding of this loser was shameful. I did not even bother reading any of the columns; Rosenberg’s writing makes people want to either shake their head or fire a bullet into it.
In his column, DSR Founder Jeff Moss made mention of Rosenberg’s reaction to Amazon.com reviews of his dumb Michigan/Ohio State rivalry book. Although most of the reviews were of the 1-star variety, I think it is only fair to share a positive review of the book. This reader gave Rosenberg’s book a 5-star rating.
I was given this book as a gift for my constipated dog Messner. He circled it twice before settling down and relieving himself for the first time in days. We plan on picking up a case of these.
See? Not everyone hated the book.
Michael Rosenberg is a devout coward and should have been fired for advancing a clear agenda against Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan football program. The vast majority of the players on the 2009 team had great affection for Rodriguez and were deeply hurt by the Free Press report. Where were these players in Rosenberg’s piece? Even two of the six sources that were interviewed were so appalled with how they were presented in the report that they immediately rushed to their embattled coach and clarified their comments.
Rosenberg sought out the sources that would serve his agenda of removing not only Rodriguez, but Michigan AD Bill Martin. He had no use for the other 95% of players whom stood by their coach throughout the ordeal. I did not need a journalism degree to learn you have to present both sides of a story. That point was hammered home in 6th grade when I applied for the middle school newspaper.
I feel bad for the Michigan fans, dragged into an era of transition that was going to be difficult regardless but was made far worse by people like Rosenberg. He was not the only culprit, to be sure, but as a professional journalist he is held to a higher standard. There were influential people in and around that program that simply decided they did not like the new guy and were going to do everything possible to hasten his failure and ultimate demise.
Michael Rosenberg is getting exactly what he deserves with the ensuing fallout. No football team could achieve the peak of its potential under the circumstances Rosenberg helped cultivate. The fans of Michigan football were Rosenberg’s collateral damage.
Every day Rosenberg remains employed as a journalist is a travesty to the profession, a sign that gross journalistic malpractice may occur with no repercussions from upper management. The Free Press and Rosenberg have painted Michigan fans as sympathetic figures, a difficult task worthy of the Pulitzer if we completely ignore everything else I have just written.
The common stance among Michigan State fans is, “Hey, if Rosenberg hurt Michigan, I love the guy!” I cannot join this contingency. There is a line between hating a rival and condoning abhorrent conduct against them. I would not wish any program to be deliberately sabotaged by a hack journalist with an obvious agenda. Have something legitimate to bring to the table? Sure. Go get them. Practicing too hard? Stretching too long?
Yes, Rich Rodriguez was the coach of our biggest rival. But he is still above all a person, one that never did anything to warrant the treatment he received and the scrutiny Rosenberg brought to him. I loved watching Michigan lose. I did not enjoy watching someone under siege for no reason. There is a distinction, one I wish more Michigan State fans would have acknowledged.
I will be rooting against Rosenberg so long as he holds the title of “journalist”. I have enough issues with Sam Bernstein making my future degree in law seem despicable. I don’t need Rosenberg staining my undergraduate degree as well.
Boycott this coward’s column and share your thoughts with the Free Press on their continued employment of not only a hack journalist, but an overall bad person. The Free Press failed to address this issue by not firing the parasite. The onus is now on the public to take away Rosenberg’s voice.