Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s ownership of D.C. radio station WTEM continues to get him favorable coverage from the station’s high-profile talk show host, Tony Kornheiser. And Kornheiser’s refusal to talk about issues that could cast Snyder in a negative light is continuing to result in criticism of Kornheiser.
Yesterday I noted that Washington Post columnist John Feinstein said he felt queasy by Kornheiser’s instruction that Snyder was not to be criticized on his show. Today Feinstein was a guest on Kornheiser’s show again, and I listened in the hopes that Kornheiser would relent and allow the subject to be discussed. But no: Not a word was spoken about Snyder, who is the subject of a great deal of discussion in other D.C. media over his lawsuit against the Washington City Paper.
Feinstein also appeared on Mike Wise’s show on a station Snyder doesn’t own, however, and on that show Feinstein said Kornheiser deserves the criticism he has received for his refusal to say anything bad about Snyder.
“I think that Tony’s getting criticized for not even talking about this story, and I agree with that, I have told Tony that,” Feinstein said, per Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. “I’m not talking behind his back. But as I said before, it is his show, and you’re entitled to talk about what you want to or don’t want to, as long as you’re willing to accept the criticism that comes with those decisions, whatever they might be.”
Although Kornheiser was a longtime journalist for the Washington Post, Feinstein pointed out that Kornheiser isn’t a journalist anymore, he just plays one on TV — which some might argue makes it acceptable for Kornheiser to take a paycheck from Snyder, avoid criticism of Snyder and have a chummy relationship with Snyder.
Of course, when he was a journalist, Kornheiser loved nothing more than to pontificate about the standards of journalism and give sanctimonious speeches about why Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalists were superior to lowly bloggers. That makes it a little harder to give Kornheiser a free pass.
In any case, as that harsh story from the Washington City Paper showed, just because Snyder’s deep pockets get him favorable coverage from Kornheiser doesn’t mean his deep pockets will get him favorable coverage from the rest of the D.C. media. Snyder may be able to buy off Kornheiser, but he can’t buy off everyone.