CBS’ NFL Today makes wrong call with Kansas City murder story

It isn’t always easy when the real world collides with sports. It happened over the weekend with the tragedy in Kansas City.

As a result, the tone and coverage of the Sunday NFL pregame shows had to be altered. It wasn’t a normal day for football.

For the most part, the networks got it right. Fox NFL Sunday dumped a Kurt Russell opening and instead began the show with a somber discussion of what occurred. ESPN’s Sunday Countdown also eliminated Frank Caliendo’s regular comedy bit and put its focus on the tragedy.

Then there was CBS’ NFL Today. The opening of the show made it seem as if it was just another Sunday. The analysts talked about the playoff races.

Richard Deitsch of wrote in a harsh critique:

Had CBS headed straight into thoughtful analysis and reporting of the story  after its opener, it would have saved itself from these kind of critiques. Instead, CBS compounded the shill job  by opting not to talk about the murder-suicide for the next five minutes.

Think about that kind of editorial judgment. What did The NFL Today  talk about? It talked about clothing. After analyst Bill Cowher mentioned what  kind of ties he and Shannon Sharpe were wearing, viewers were treated to a  chuckle-hut segment on the AFC playoff race. Then came a discussion on the NFC  postseason picture. Finally, after an excruciating five minutes that should be  shown in journalism schools across the country as an example of what not to do  on a big story, Brown made the most awkward-of-awkward turns by saying, “All  right, fellas, a little switch here.”‘

Michael Hiestand of USA Today had the response from CBS:

When asked Sunday if CBS should have done things differently, executive vice-president/production Harold Bryant told USA TODAY Sports: “I don’t know. It was about trying to find the right balance. We covered it very well.”

The balance, he says, was about giving CBS’ NFL studio analysts more time to talk about the Belcher news — they got two segments — but also “still cover what’s going on today.”

The backlash has been pretty intense. There was only one top story going into Sunday’s games, and it wasn’t the playoff races with five weeks left in the season.

I’m pretty sure CBS realizes it made the wrong call.



3 thoughts on “CBS’ NFL Today makes wrong call with Kansas City murder story

  1. With remote in hand I flipped from NFL Network to ESPN to Fox to CBS to see how they would handle the tragedy. Everyone thought it worthy to lead their A block except CBS, the network of the AFC. I was stunned. James Brown looked like Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi Minister of Information, during that conflict who stayed on script despite the realities around him.

    It was disgraceful, and not at all helpful to CBS as it tries to expand its sports brand in radio and its cable network. An awful display of judgment.

  2. Remember that the NFL Today had Shawne Merriman as a guest a few years ago when he was suspended for violating the drug policy and agreed to his (or his agent’s) demands that they not ask him why he was available to be a guest on a Sunday afternoon so it’s not like CBS’ lack of any journalistic integrity is new.

  3. Maybe CBS did what it did because the Chiefs game, unlike most weeks, was on Fox that day instead of CBS.Did petty competitiveness trump journalistic judgment?

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