Hockey writer's latest misstep hard to fathom

by: Kirk Minihane on Wed, 05/07/2014 - 9:23pm

@kirkmin embarrassing himself again w/personal vendetta. He should try actual journalism instead of covering sports from his couch #fraud

-- @HackswithHaggs, Aug. 12, 2012

OK, let's start with a couple of full disclosures: Joe Haggerty and I don't like each other. Is it hate? Nope, at least not from my end. But there is legitimate dislike, and a simple Google search of our names will fill you in. Also there's this: Haggerty writes for and appears on Comcast SportsNet. I appear on the same network twice a week (at least until network executives read this column). So make of all that what you wish. Maybe I indeed have a vendetta against Haggerty. Maybe I won't be as harsh over the next couple hundred words as I should because of the exposure and money I receive from Comcast. All criticism probably will be fair. 

I'm writing this exactly 12 hours after Joe Haggerty filed the most bizarre column (titled "Bruins say 'effort isn't what they wanted' in Game 3") I've ever read in my life. Probably you know about it by now, but here's a couple of highlights (with thanks to Deadspin):

On the goal by P.K. Subban in the first period:

"I didn't see it, but I was on the other side of a hockey rink, was standing there this time around," said the 13-year-old girls. (Patrice Bergeron. "We need to do a better job of stopping that. In definitely wasn't the effort that we want, and now we've got the results."

Zdeno Chara, not a 13-year-old girl, on defensive breakdowns:

"We've got to be better with our courage. We've got to lean you guys."

Here's a sentence in the fourth-to-last paragraph of the column. I've read it three dozen times and I'm still not sure it's the English language:

It was the same name in the game is he's also in the second period as the gaffe of Andrej Meszaros and Johnny Boychuck allowed Dale Weise to sneak behind them and pot his own second-period goal.

One thing Joe Haggerty -- who has questioned my "journalistic compass" in the past -- knows how to do is close out a column. Tell me this isn't a grabber:

One would be expected as the Bruins go back to the drawing boast in Game 3, and Giardi potentially keeps along that roadway while Dan Roche isn't around to lay down his hammer on the league.

Look, I screw up all the time. There will be typos in the column, guaranteed. But what you just read wasn't that, it was something else. When I first read the column Wednesday morning I was concerned for Haggerty's health. I figured there was a chance something had happened to him, no one just posts this without a real excuse. Well, Haggerty put that theory to rest in a slap-and-tickle interview with Toucher & Rich (I know, I know -- I'm not in on the joke; if you take anything seriously you're an asshole -- those guys have all the fun) on CBS Radio Wednesday morning. 

"I think I was in some sort of dream state while I was falling asleep at the keyboard in writing that because I was doing it at like 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning after being at the rink at 8:30 a.m. and not getting done with TV until midnight. … I hit send, I hoped for the best and thought I’d wake up to a heavily edited piece the next morning. That was not the case," Haggerty said. 

That's the best you've got? I was tired? Well, that explains it all. I mean, I'm sure DJ Bean, Amalie Benjamin, Fluto Shinzawa, Stephen Harris, Mike Giardi and all the rest of the folks covering the game last night felt extraordinarily fresh when they posted or sent their work on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. That must be why they failed to meet the requirement for references to 13-year-old girls or Dan Roche. And P.S.: The Bruins skate was at 11:30 a.m. -- there were no Boston media at the Montreal skate, which took place in Brossard, Quebec. Maybe Haggerty was at the rink three hours early for TV, but I doubt it. And even if he was, so what? That's his job.    

My theory on Haggerty is the same as it has been for three years -- he's lazy, not very bright, incredibly insecure with a touch of delusion. Not one of the great combinations. He's been on the edge of trouble journalistically recently -- he wrongly reported a clubhouse ban on alcohol in road games for the Red Sox in 2012 (by all accounts, he hasn't worked a Red Sox game since) and there are whispers, growing louder, of frustration among fellow beat writers with the Bruins about journalistic indiscretions -- and it finally tipped over. It is a staggeringly embarrassing piece of work, made more troubling by his casual reaction to the mess and his speed in throwing his editors under the bus, backing up and running over them again. And the edited version of the story, which was done about six hours after Haggerty posted, did not include the Chara quote. If it's because Haggerty made up that quote -- it doesn't exist in any other story -- that's his worst offense. 

Let's assume DJ Bean had the same history as Haggerty and filed the same column Thursday morning. I'm convinced Rob Bradford would have him on a plane back to Boston immediately, and a suspension or termination would quickly follow. I'm not sure how Comcast is going to handle this. Attempts were made to speak to those in the decision-making position, but no comments were issued. Laura Hannon, director of communications, emailed me this release Wednesday afternoon:

"At 2 a.m. this morning, there was a breakdown in our editorial process that unfortunately led to the posting of a draft story from Joe Haggerty that contained some unintelligible references. We apologize for the error, which is not reflective of our high standards, and are working to ensure that this does not happen again." 

There you go. Follow-ups asking about potential discipline were not answered. I respect and like many of the people at Comcast -- they have been great to me and are smart, hard-working and sincere in their desire to do terrific work. But if they let Haggerty skate on this they absolutely deserve whatever happens the next time he screws up (and Haggerty was filing stories from Montreal on Wednesday afternoon). The enabler is every bit as responsible as the enabled. A suspension seems the minimum discipline; this is a serious breach of ethics at best. If no punishment is handed out it's an endorsement, a look the other way, and an insult to the superb writers at (Tom E. Curran, Sean McAdam, A. Sherrod Blakely and others, plus the on- and off-camera staff). That's the road to disaster. 

Joe Haggerty is everything that's wrong with journalism and has been for years. Wednesday was his lowest point yet. But if Comcast allows him to continue to work there will be a new nadir. His Twitter bio states that he wants people to walk down the street and say he's the best sportswriter there ever was. On Wednesday, he was the worst. 

And yes, I wrote that last sentence from my couch.