Friday, February 11, 2005

Bob Raissman on the Giambi Press Conference

Yesterday, in the media capital of the world, the Yankees staged what amounted to a media blackout.
They threw an invitation-only press party for Jason Giambi. Black tie was not required. Still, the color would have been an appropriate one for this black-eye session.
Anyone administering this fiasco can say an independent public relations firm, not the Yankees, orchestrated - and set the ground rules - for Giambi's bull session with notebooks and microphones.
They can say Giambi's agent, Arn Tellem, was puppet master for an exercise in obfuscation. They can say all the Yankees provided was a home - Yankee Stadium - for this charade.
Since the coming of what is known as "the Joe Torre era," an announcement concerning a Yankee player recovering from a hangnail is apt to be made at a press conference in which the entire media corps is invited and fed.
Yesterday, you had to be invited to dance.
A bootlickers' ball? If the shoe fits ...
A selective audience was in the house.
A select few in a completely controlled environment.
This way, Giambi - characterized yesterday by one Yankee mole as "soft and fragile"- did not have to face any real heat or a Duke Castiglione moment. The format where everyone - print and electronic - gets to pounce en masse was tossed in the garbage.
Think about it. If Giambi's "people" were actually controlling this event, then the Yankee organization - George Steinbrenner, Randy Levine, Brian Cashman - basically let a guy who has embarrassed them, milked them for $80 million and lied to the media, order them around like errand boys.
Can't you just hear Tellem and Giambi say: "Hey guys, we know we've made you look like jerks and are stealing money from you, but can we use Yankee Stadium on Feb. 10 to spin the media?"
The guys running the Yankees are too smart, too savvy, to let some double-talking agent and Body By BALCO play them for suckers. And they have too much ego to let Giambi and Tellem, who really are disingenuous schleppers in this scenario, tell them what to do.
That's why the Yankees bows were on this fiddle. The pinstripe suits conducted this orchestra.
By giving the impression they had nothing to say in running yesterday's festivities, the Yankees were distancing themselves from being portrayed as media manipulators and co-authors of any lies coming out of Giambi's mouth.
The fact Giambi's soiree was not covered live by the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, aka Al-Yankzeera, was the most telling evidence of the distance the Yankees attempted to put between the organization and Giambi's soiree. If Steinbrenner & Co. wanted the "press conference" on YES, it would've aired.
When it comes to the Yankees, the Giambi story is big. It would stand to reason YES would cover Giambi's meeting with the media live. When Giambi signed with the Yankees, YES covered the press conference live. Other momentous events, like Derek Jeter being named Yankee captain, were also carried live on YES.
Instead of getting live coverage yesterday, Yankee fans could only see a small snippet of video replay on WFAN's "Mike and the Mad Dog" simulcast on YES. Then, viewers were reduced to having to listen to a replay of Giambi audio - in steroid-phonic sound - while having their eyes glaze over watching Mike Francesa and Chris (Mad Dog) Russo listen to this drivel.
Man, that was riveting television.
This, again, showed that YES' marching orders come directly from the Bronx and Tampa. The right thing to do, if YES was a legitimate network devoted to covering all Yankee news rather than an extension of the team's PR department, would have been to air yesterday's Stadium session live.
Instead, there was a convenient excuse for shafting viewers. Since "ground rules" were set by the Giambi camp, no local TV outlet was allowed to televise the farce live. So, Yankee lackeys running YES could tell everyone: "Gee, we wanted to cover it live, but we were just following the rules."
Rules that will be broken if the "new" Giambi gets off to a hot start. Then, YES will air his postgame press conference live.
And media members won't need an invitation to attend.

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