December 9, 2009

The Jordan/Woods Access Media Model

Michael Fitzpatrick at the Bleacher Report explains what it's like to be a sports reporter covering the Most Famous Athlete in America, and why coverage is so erratic, going from hero worship for years to More than We Need to Know in a couple of days.

(By the way, the one Chicago Bulls game I attended in my life, I sat in the press box, which is the least fun place to watch your home team play: no cheering in the press box! One thing I noticed is that the median accredited sports reporter is poor: 100% acrylic fiber sweater poor. Of course, most of these poor bastards were representing the Decatur News-Gazette or whatever, but it's not like the subsequent coming of the Internet has made journalism a better career choice.)

Considering that he has looked to Michael Jordan as a mentor for most of his career, it’s no surprise that Tiger Woods has followed the "Michael Jordan Model" in dealing with the media.

It’s also no surprise that the media—sports and gossip writers alike—have now turned on Woods in a New York minute, just as they did with Jordan. [After Jordan's 2009 Hall of Fame speech?]

The Jordan/Woods strategy on how to deal with the media is intricate, complex and is slowly implemented over a series of years ... .

First and foremost, they establish their dominance.

The moment they walk into the media center, or step in front of a group of reporters, the immediately turn on the "I’m better than you and I’m only here because the NBA/PGA Tour is making me be here. In my mind, the journalism profession is worthless and my intelligence is head and shoulders above yours."

They will look down on the media.

They will insert subtle comments intended to put down the journalism profession.

They will embarrass reporters in front of their peers if they ask intrusive or difficult questions, in the hopes that the thought of further embarrassment might stop them from asking similar questions in the future.

They will also create a set of rules:

1) I’ll let you hang with me as long as you never print anything detrimental to my image.

2) The moment you print something bad about me or any of my friends or close associates, you are cut off for good. You will be forever banished from the ‘circle of trust’, and you will spend the rest of your days receiving nothing more than vague, detail-less answers.

3) One person straying from the Jordan/Woods rules can ruin it for the rest. For example, if one single reporter writes an embarrassing or negative article about them, they may completely cut off the media for a few days.

The ultimate principle: If Woods or Jordan ever feel as if they are losing control over what journalists print or say, they will punish them, and possibly even cut hem off for good. ...

In Michael Leahy's book "When Nothing Else Matter" about Jordan's final comeback with the Washington Wizards, he referred to those journalists who played by Jordan's rules as the "Jordan Guys".

They got to hang with Jordan, talk to him about personal issues, about his family, his friends, etc., but, professionally speaking it didn't matter much because they were often too afraid to print anything they might have uncovered anyway.

... So, when the opportunity does arise where they can print the absolute truth and offer their real opinions of you without any real threat of being "punished"—because every single reporter in the country is doing the same thing—they are going to remember all those times Jordan/Woods looked at them like they were fools.

They are going to remember all of those little comments that implied how Jordan/Woods thought journalists were sleazy and worthless.

They are going to remember all those times they were embarrassed by Jordan/Woods in front of their peers.

They are going to remember all those times that their stories suffered because Jordan/Woods were "punishing" the media by not speaking to them for days on end.

They are going to remember that this whole unspoken arrangement was never really an arrangement of equals.

And they are going to remember what it felt like all those years to be treated like a peasant by men who thought they were better than them just because they could hit a little white ball, are throw a round orange ball through a steel hoop.

Personally, I think there is something to be said for hypocrisy. Michael Jordan is not a nice guy. But, he's taken pains over the years to arrange his private affairs so that they stayed relatively private to anyone who didn't understand how to read between the lines, which, of course, includes most of the little kids who idolized him. For example, I hadn't even realized until I looked it up yesterday that Mrs. Jordan had finally pulled the plug on their marriage, walking away with $182 million in 2006.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Middletown Girl said...

Steve Sailer is giving the National Inquirer a run for the money.

Anonymous said...

Steve, Fox News has the texts between Tiger and Jamie Grubbs.

Its pretty bad. He was obviously sleeping with her: (cut-and-pasted):

WARNING: Graphic language after the jump.

July 26, 2009

Jaimee: I drove out for the night to surprise a friend with a present for there birthday

Tiger: what kind of present your naked body

Jaimee: haha no a watch I slept alone

Tiger: alone with him that is

Jaimee: haha I wish

Sept. 27, 2009

Jaimee: miss u

Tiger: now that's hot so who is your new boy toy

Jaimee: no new boy toy ... still running dry... been on 2 real dates in the pat 2 months

Tiger: I need you

Jaimee: then get your tight ass over here and visit me! I need u

Tiger: I will wear you out soon

Jaimee: how soon? I got a new piercing

Tiger: really. Where

Jaimee: I just sent u a pic of it ... is on my cheek below my eye ... implanted a little diamond

October 1, 2009

Jaimee: is it orange county time yet?

Tiger: oh stop

Jaimee: hahaha I know ... but you canceled on me last time so the anticipation is killing me ... im finding myself watching sports center ... haha j/k it isn't that bad

Tiger: its never been that bad

Jaimee: very true ... I only watch football

Tiger: Figured you would say that. Big black guys.

Jaimee: u are my first, last and only black guy! U should feel special

Tiger: why do I not believe that?

October 18, 2009

Tiger: send me something very naughty

Jaimee: some things are worth waiting for lol ... besides im at work

Tiger: go to the bathroom and take it

Jaimee: haha ur too much

October 18, 2009

Jaimee: are u leaving me cause your wife is still in newport I am lonely now ... i like falling asleep in your arms

Tiger: sorry baby I just can't sleep. Its just a problem I have.

Tiger: she is not here. They left this morning

Jaimee: well I appreciate you not wanting to wake me up but if y couldn't sleep I would have rather sat up and talked to u more ... find out why I keep falling more and more for u

November 26, 2009

Tiger: happy thanksgiving to you

Jaimee: u too love


That cannot be argued with, and its on the FoxNews website. His family personna and any endorsements tied to that are obviously toast now. Its hard to imagine that all 11 women are lying. There is a good chance that at least 5 or 6 of them are telling the truth about sleeping with him. What is so astonishing culturally is that these women apparently aren't ashamed to admit to the whole world that they have slept with a married man with a child. I think a term Ive seen Roissy use is "predator sluts". Indeed. Dont think this would have happened back in 1980.

OhioStater said...

Elin will walk away with a lot more than $182 million. Couldn't Nike and the PGA tour come up with enough money to keep the Enquirer silent? I'm sure some poor PR guy (probably drives a Porsche) said "this will blow over in a couple of days, so let's do nothing". Boy was he wrong!

Red said...

Back in the late 80s/early 90s, when I was living in Chicago it was comically apparent what bootlicking toadies all the local sportswriters were towards Jordan. But one of the Trib writers, Sam Smith, wrote a very unflattering book called The Jordan Rules about the Bulls' 1991 season. It was really the first piece of long-form journalism that gave a detailed account of what an egomaniacal dick Jordan was.

But he said later that Jordan never froze him out after that. He wasn't happy about the book, and they never had any more warm conversations, but he always answered his questions like every other reporter and he never singled him out or embarrased him.

Whiskey said...

There was no way it could stay silent, because the Enquirer was on it quick. It was the women themselves, who being unable to snag Woods, dialed the Enquirer for cash. How do you think the Enquirer reporters found Woods dropping off one waitress / girlfriend at the trailer-park? Answer: she told them. The Enquirer does not give a damn if Woods talks to them or not, they'll treat him just like another celebrity loser they follow, from Pete Doherty to Amy Winehouse to Lindsay Lohan to Britney Spears to Chris Brown.

That was why Woods came a cropper -- he did not understand the media world was much larger than just the sports reporters.

Almost NONE of the stories coming out have been by sports reporters. It has been the gossip guys who cater to female desire for lurid sex tales and embarrassing moments. Putting ever humiliating, icky text message, phone call, and more out on the Web. I'm sure you've heard Woods phone message, asking one woman to change her voicemail greeting. Its on a par with Alec Baldwin's "rude little pig" moment and voicemail.

The most effective rules I've seen is the Brett Favre rules. Everyone knows about his pain killer addictions, affair, will-he-won't-he retire, and so on. Favre doesn't so much cut off access as simply not care much what is written or said about him, and has lasted long enough to be a sentimental favorite. All that stuff got reported on in the 1990s. BUT ... by press performances that are simply open (not looking down, which creates an arrogant vibe in the press conference), Favre created guys who will shade things his way for a while.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm: the Jordan/Woods rules remind me of the way politics is played in certain parts of the world.

Jeff said...

I've always admired the Jordan media model.

But I think in truth, what it really does is make him look great in the present, but in the long run look bad (I guess that's not a bad trade off when it comes to making cash).

jody said...

i'm far more interested in the ways and methods by which these two guys were ever linked, and how people were convinced to buy it. they aren't that similar. were phil knight and nike primarily behind it? no doubt ESPN pushed the idea as strongly as any single message it has EVER pushed, in it's 30 year existence.

it's a marketing coup almost on the level of the two marketing coups which i think are the most impressive in the US today:

1) how almost everybody has been convinced that the US is a "judeo-christian" nation. no it's not. not only is it a matter of debate as to how much influence christianity was allowed to exert over the political establishment of the nation, with many founders being only nominally christian if that, but there were few if any major jewish elements, forces, or contributions to it's core founding events or figures.

yet, this re-branding of the united states' identity even manages to put the jewish part first. it's almost as bad as the emma lazarus poem that was slapped on the statue of liberty.

2) the modern american english definition of the words "hispanic" and "latino". pure marketing genius, by which totally boring and uninteresting short fat american indians had their identity changed almost overnight into the much more interesting and exotic sounding "latinos". even pure blooded africans are "hispanics" now, if they were born in some third world nation were spanish is spoken.

but what really puts this one over the top, is how MY identity has been changed, so that today, instead of being "white", i am now a "non-hispanic white". the binary, yes or no, check for "hispanic" identity comes first. the most important thing about a human in the united states today is whether they are "hispanic" or not, and all ethnic groups have had their identities completely rearranged so that "hispanics" are the reference point. it's retarded to the highest degree.

Anonymous said...

Steve -- the media can and will destroy your life to sell papers. And you have absolutely no recourse, no way to retaliate against them once they start ganging up on you. The company you built over decades can be destroyed in an instant by a reporter with an agenda.

Think of them as a pack of slavering dogs. If you are Jordan, you have enough power to kill *one* dog at a time should it decide to take you on (= "the cutoff"). Most companies and startups don't even have that -- they have absolutely no way to prevent a negative story that can annihilate billions in market cap.

The point of the Jordan model is to project enough intimidation to prevent a gang attack by wild dogs.

jody said...

also, this bleacher report article makes no sense whatsoever. the writer actually seems to think that the hilariously over-the-top, bordering on ludicrous, positive coverage that woods received for the last 10 years was something other than real, actual, and geniune. i can assure you, it absolutely was not. these white loser sports writers who covered woods as if he was a literal god on earth, really feel that way. they breathlessly anticipate his every move and word. the sports coverage of woods is exactly the same as the political coverage of obama. there were no "jordan media rules" in operation here. that's the dumbest thing i have ever heard about woods. not a single one of these analysts or announcers who covered him felt anything other than life-filling joy and awe in his presence or at the sight of him golfing. to think otherwise, after years and years of seeing adult white men turn into twilight fan girls at the mere mention of woods, is insulting to all of our intelligences.

it took white american non-athlete sports writers who worship tiger woods, oh, about ten full seconds to explain why these events make him even MORE awesome, even MORE of a god on earth, even more of a supreme being.

this article by rick reilly, a professional woods jock sniffer, has been on the front page of for a week.

Anonymous said...

stole my point Jody- Rick Reilly is a cowardly loser

dearieme said...

These sportsmen seem pretty amateur compared to the ruthless goons of "Climate Science".

guest007 said...

Everyone is forgetting that CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN, Golf Channel make money off of Tiger Woods just like NBC used to make money off of Michael Jordon. Thus, they have to limit the negative coverage of him or the hurt their own investment in golf coverage.

Also, Sports reporters are the worst journalist around today. They are the worse that the stock picking reporting on CNBC.

Reports written about recruiting violations, the money of college sports, Title IX compliance, the economics of stadium building, the movement of Franchies are almost ever written by sports reporters. It takes US News to write about Title IX compliance and the money loses in college sports. It takes news reporters to write about recruiting violations, academic dishonesty in college sports. It takes the business reporters to write about stadium deals. Sports reporters never report on the back stories because they cheer lead for the institutions and want people interested in the sports teams.

Jim O said...

Remember when the NBA started an investigation of Jordan's gambling? Suddenly, if you recall, MJ experienced a burning desire to pursue his dream of playing pro baseball. So he quit the Bulls. So NBA commish Stern announced that the probe was being dropped as moot. And then MJ decided to come back. But the investigation was not reinstituted, even though it was un-mooted by MJ's return.
Do you remember any sports reporter writing about the obvious implications of this series of events? I don't.

rob said...

I doubt there's quid pro quo for ass kissing sports coverage. People who go into journalism to break the next Watergate, uncover corruption, etc. don't become sports reporters.

Sports reporters spent their childhoods worshipping professional athletes. Now that they're all grown-up, they get to sniff the jockstraps for realsies.

Even sadder than the sports reporters are the fat or skinny fat losers who look up to people who throw things for a living. At least reporters get paid for it.

That there's such interest in Tiger Woods gettin' sumthin'-sumthin' on the side suggests that tabloid style sports reporting is an underexploited niche. Internet entrepreneurs take note.

albertosaurus said...

Thank you Steve. Ocassionally I would feel a slight touch of regret that I had never actually seen Michael Jordan play. Considering how fanatical a basketball fan I had been for so many years this was surprising. But Jordan had no appeal for me.

I used to laugh when I was told that he was the greatest basketball player of all time. I'd laugh because I had seen Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, and Julius Irving play.

I still felt a little regret because while all of my guys were more talented and interesting to watch than Jordan, he was also a well beloved media celebrity and most of my favorites were in real life real ass holes. Now you tell me that Jordan too is a jerk. Poof! All regret gone.

David Blue said...

The Jordan Rules make sense to me. What the media will do to people, just for the money, is horrible, and nobody is morally obligated to cooperate with it.

And yes, expertly knocking a little white ball into a hole does make you superior ... to the kind of people who hounded Princess Diana to her death. There is a hierarchy of respect in professions. Scandal-mongers are near the bottom of it, for good reasons. They are not entitled to a "partnership of equals" with people who do not blare others' family secrets on front pages, on radios, on televisions.

If, when they get the chance to do harm at last with impunity, they are vengefully eager to do it, this only showed their character and that it would never have been right to treat them as true friends.

Also, those who employ the Jordan Rules get some good years. Some is better than none. In those years, you can make your money, build your family (if you are wise enough), do the right thing for your team (if you are a player in a team sport) without the club being negatively affected by ugly reporting, and serve as a positive role model for others. Then you keep these things, if you are wise.

The true long term is not the day when the journalistic pack gets its petty revenge, it's the years afterward when you live well on the money you put in the bank, and on the satisfaction of having done good things you couldn't have been able to do while letting reporters be free to professionally exploit your life.

Anonymous said...

"I'd laugh because I had seen Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, and Julius Irving play.

I still felt a little regret because while all of my guys were more talented and interesting to watch than Jordan"

No. Jordan was much, much better than all of the players you just named.

Anonymous said...

That there's such interest in Tiger Woods gettin' sumthin'-sumthin' on the side suggests that tabloid style sports reporting is an underexploited niche. Internet entrepreneurs take note.

Interesting, Id never quite thought of this before. Sports journalists are very much in the same camp as the sports they report on. They simply dont see themselves as uncovering stories, or *gulp* "speaking truth to power". Regular journalists dont do a lot of that either but at least the concept is vaguely floating about in the background somewhere. Not so with the sports journalist.

AmericanGoy said...

"I doubt there's quid pro quo for ass kissing sports coverage. People who go into journalism to break the next Watergate, uncover corruption, etc. don't become sports reporters."

It's funny that it works the same in politics.

If you write something naughty, you won't get invited to even standard press conferences, never mind junkets or other events.

And your ass sniffing and kissing competition will.

Like Pavlovian dogs...

Anonymous said...

journalists sound like jilted women