Understanding Pitino's anger

I have said it already, and I still believe it. I think Rick Pitino made a mistake in firing back in a news conference Wednesday. I think he took a development that wasn’t on the national radar — the release of video tapes of Karen Sypher’s interviews with police — and wound up injecting the story into the national scene again.

I think he hurt himself legally. If I were Sypher’s attorney, I’d be pointing at this news conference, noting that the most famous man in the city of Louisville called told the city of Louisville — in a news conference that was carried live — that my client was a liar. I’d ask for an immediate change of venue. Pitino provided grounds for that today, and did it knowingly.

I think his tone wasn’t always right. He was defiant on points in which he should have been deferential. His mentioning of Ted Kennedy was awkward.

I say all this up front, just so it’s clear.

But I also want to say this. I understand a little more about where Pitino was coming from after watching the 11 o’clock news.

Particularly on WHAS, I watched video of Sypher talking about Pitino in very descriptive terms describing a rape that neither local police nor the FBI found any evidence of having happened. And I have to ask the question — why was it there? It was tucked into a story that was supposed to have been about local reaction the press conference.

It was needless. Two weeks ago, when police released the transcripts of Sypher’s interviews, the same details were available. Why, if they were worthy of broadcast, did WHAS not air them then?

I’ll tell you why. In television, it’s the video that matters. In the eyes of TV news, Sypher’s claims weren’t aired until they could be aired in her voice on their newscasts.

But the fact of the matter is, some of the video that was aired was gratuitous. They aired it because they had it.

Now, it’s true, The C-J was the first to publish Sypher’s claims. But it did so without the most sensational or off-the-wall allegations. And though the full report was published elsewhere, it was not published by the paper because so much of it is, frankly, not credible.

After that, I was surprised that the AP published the ludicrous Sypher charge that Pitino paid her husband to marry her. I was even more surprised that the Lexington Herald-Leader stripped it across its front page.

So some of what Pitino said was right. It is sad that these things that have been investigated and dismissed still get aired as breaking news. I’ll give him that. But that is always the way local TV news has worked. Two weeks after the news broke, they treated the release of this video as some kind of revelation, and rushed to be the first out with it. It’s typical.

Watching these things, I understood Pitino’s mindset better. But in in the end, how many people are going to see what few mintues of these tapes some local stations in Louisville aired? Nobody nationally had any interest in them. They were a pretty small-time phenomenon.

Pitino is media savvy enough to know this. But I suppose he was too angry to worry about that.

He’s also angry, apparently, that the media aren’t going after Sypher harder. He made this rather cryptic statement: “All I did was stand up to a long laundry list of people who passed way today, who couldn’t stand up because what was done was wrong.”

He’s alluding, I think, to other men Sypher may have been involved with, may have gotten money from. The Louisville Eccentric Observer recently documented some of these.

And this might well be something that comes out in trial. But in the court of public opinion, all that really matters is that his name is on that list.

Where Pitino went out of bounds is this comment: “It’s a lie. It’s a 100 percent lie. You’ve known it’s a lie. You haven’t printed it, you haven’t said it, you know the background, but you haven’t said it.”

Maybe Sypher’s background is the background he’s talking about. Maybe he’s angry that nobody in the media is going to bat for him hard enough. But it is not the job of the media to proclaim Sypher a liar. That’s what we have trials for. And it is not the media’s job to absolve Pitino of whatever the public might hold against him. It is the media’s job, however, to be fair and accurate.

All of these “lies,” of course, we’re left to guess about. He offered no specifics.

Anyway, I get it. I get his anger. There are some things, perhaps, he has a right to be angry about.

But these are discussions he’d have been better off to have with individual news executives, not in front of the nation. When you tell the public that everything in a story has been a lie except what you have said about it, they’re never going to believe you. To set yourself up as the only source of truth is a losing proposition.

And to lecture the media on right and wrong is, well, not useful in his position. And while he is the victim of an alleged extortion attempt, to paint himself as a victim in totality is, as well, a dog that won’t hunt with the public.

Pitino did accomplish something. He undoubtedly cut the number of minutes of Sypher video that appeared on the news tonight. And, in his trademark way, he put his mark on the news that was reported. But it came at great price. It came at the price of awakening the nation to this situation, when it largely had died down.

I’m betting Pitino feels better tonight. But while he got some things off his chest, he paid a price for it.


12 thoughts on “Understanding Pitino's anger

  1. You are correct on a couple things, yet overestimate them as well. You are correct that by doing this press conference, he brought it back to the news. You overestimate its influence though. While its back in the news now, by Friday the national rounds will be back to Favre and Vick and their locker rooms, and baseballs playoff race and which pitcher threw at which hitter. The ramifications of this are fairly short lived and minimal.You fail to see the long term benefits though. What are the last things we've seen since his relationship with Sypher were revealed? An apology, the U of L President saying he asked him to apologize, and Sypher psychotic police videos. Sure, Coach Pitino could have kept quiet, but are these the last incidents before the trial that should be remembered? He came out on the offensive, and made it clear he wasn't going to take this, and made it clear he was going to be here. It sends a message to recruits and fans that he is facing this situation head on and isn't sitting beside and letting thing ruminate because of his silence. Maybe he gets bashed from the media for "attacking their own," but that will last what – two days? Long term he got the strong last word. You are right about the local media too, they are fairly innocuous. I mean, we have one of the worst college football coaches in the country and most of the media have given him a pass with articles on group therapy (no offense) before the season. You are right there. But maybe you should consider that the "media" – which always assumes when someone goes off about it, it doesn't mean EVERYONE. He obvious has specific examples he's thinking of, so its silly to assume he's referring to anyone with credentials. But those who were overzealous know who they are, and I don't think the CJ was one of them. For such a dish it out profession, you never see so much sensitivity from EVERYONE, news, paper, online, when someone throws out the ever present "media" term, as if he's bashing you on a personal level when he isn't referring to anyone specifically. No reason to take it personally.

  2. I went to U. of L.'s College of Business. I learned about contracts and contract law. Why put a morality clause in a coach's contract if it doesn't mean a thing?Pitino fired an assistant coach for having an affair while married. I guess what is good for the goose, isn't good for the gander, so to speak. Sorry, if I disagree, but not being a fanatic sports fan, I prefer the importance of having a coach who will truly be a role model for the students. I don't care how good he is as a coach or how much money he brings to the foundation/organization which funds the basketball program. I wonder how much money U. of L. gets for education out of this money, anyway.The students are just being taught to win at all costs, no matter what.And also that if you make lots of money, you are untouchable.Because of Ramsey sending the message to the students that money is the more important than providing positive role models for the students, I would like to see HIM leave U. of L., just as I would like to see Pitino leave U. of L.There are rules at U. of L. regarding professors dating students, no matter how old they are. There are other codes of conduct at U. of L. At least I thought there were. This is a university environment, not pro ball where anything goes.Kids in high schools take steroids because they have seen the pro sports hero's do it.This situation is just going to be a bad example for every student, not just those at the university.Pitino has disgraced the university. Because of him, there is national coverage making U. of L. the laughing stock of the locker room.This isn't the first time Pitino has committed indiscretions from what I have heard. It's just the first time he got caught.I am so upset with Ramsey, I can't see straight. If I were on the board and had any say, I would demand HIS resignation also.He isn't a president of a university.He's only interested in the millions of dollars U. of L. basketball can bring into the coffers of U. of L. And really, it's not U. of L.'s money anyway. It belongs to the foundation/organization which was incorporated independently which funds the basketball program.They are the ones calling the shots behind the scene. And that is scary. It would be interesting to do a story on those people and who they are and what part they play in this whole mess. And also, just how influential are they at U. of L.?

  3. Alida,The incident was a private matter until one of the parties decided to go public six years later with accusations nobody finds credible. The fact that this same party has done this a couple of times before to get money from people.Family issues aside, who really is the culprit here? I think it's obvious that Sypher has made a semi career out of seducing men and threatening to ruin their reputations.Pitino, meanwhile, has done much for the university and the community on and off the basketball court. He also has earned millions for the university.If you attended business school, you should be able to understand why Jim Ramsey made the choice he did. It makes a whole lot more sense than allowing the schemer to get her way again.

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