The lawsuit that Redskins owner Dan Snyder filed against the Washington City Paper seems tailor made for Tony Kornheiser to weigh in on. Although Kornheiser is best known around the country for hosting Pardon the Interruption and formerly occupying the Monday Night Football booth, he built his career as a D.C. media figure who wasn’t afraid to take on powerful people in the sports world.
But Kornheiser’s career now includes cashing a paycheck from Snyder, and Kornheiser is staying silent on Snyder’s suit.
Author John Feinstein, who frequently appears on Kornheiser’s radio show on the Snyder-owned WTEM, has been one of the harshest critics of Snyder’s lawsuit against the City Paper. The lawsuit would be a natural topic for Kornheiser and Feinstein to discuss, but Feinstein revealed this week that Kornheiser has told him that’s a subject that cannot be broached.
“Tony Kornheiser has specifically asked me not to bring up Dan Snyder on his show,” Feinstein wrote on his personal web site. “I feel queasy about this but Tony’s my friend and it is his show.”
Feinstein is right to feel queasy: Journalists shouldn’t be in the business of tiptoeing around stories just because powerful people might not like what they have to say. Whether Kornheiser is avoiding the subject because he gets money from Snyder or, as Feinstein suggests, just because Kornheiser likes Snyder personally, he’s failing his listeners by giving Snyder the kid-gloves treatment.
Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post writes that it seems odd that there hasn’t been a single sustained discussion of Snyder’s lawsuit on Kornheiser’s radio show. But it seems more than just odd. It seems cowardly. Kornheiser should tell his listeners what he thinks about Snyder’s lawsuit. Or he should tell his listeners why he won’t say what he thinks.