ESPN has made a major financial investment in covering the UFC. It cannot be happy to hear that the promotion’s boss and the network’s top reporter have no relationship, but that is the case according to Ariel Helwani.
Dana White doesn’t seem to have any moral dilemmas about making Helwani’s life difficult. The two have been in multiple public spats with Ariel Helwani at one point telling Sarah Spain that all he wants is the ability to do his job without White “messing with” his career. He went so far as to say that “the fans are smart. They see what’s messed up” about the situation.
Helwani was a guest on the most recent episode of Oral Sessions with Reneé Paquette on Colin Cowherd’s The Volume network. When Paquette asked about how Helwani and White interact, the reporter said that they don’t and added that it wasn’t always that way.
“It was once supremely close and good and healthy and the kind of relationship that any journalist would want to have with arguably the most powerful person in the sport,” he said. “Now, I don’t interact with him, we don’t text, we don’t talk on the phone, and what I have often said to people is that it doesn’t necessarily bother me. Of course I would love to have a great relationship with him, but I will say if he doesn’t want to talk to me, if he doesn’t want to do interviews, text, all that stuff, I can live with that.”
The bad blood goes back to 2016 when White banned Ariel Helwani from covering UFC events because he reported news about Brock Lesnar’s return that the promotion didn’t want made public. Despite White’s absurd reaction, Helwani says he ended up being the one to try and make peace.
“I vividly remember where I was sort of, not asked, but nudged to reach out via text to try to get the lines of communication open, but I never got a reply. So, you know I can make a very strong case that the olive branch should be reached out to me. You know, I’m not worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He is. I have lost money as a result of some decisions that he has made.”
Dana White rarely says Ariel Helwani’s name. Helwani isn’t the only member of the media White has been confrontational with. He said recently on an episode of Colin Cowherd’s podcast that while he has respect for the job, he will not put up with members of the media being unprofessional.
The UFC is a different world from the rest of pro sports and this is the perfect proof. The promotion’s boss considers his most important media partner’s top reporter a problem for trying to report on the sport.
Mike Francesa: George Steinbrenner’s Idea to Put Mike and The Mad Dog On YES Network
“It was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were.”
Mike and The Mad Dog is often cited as one of, if not the, best sports radio shows of all time. The show saw an expanded reach with its partnership with the YES Network beginning in 2002. During his podcast Tuesday, Mike Francesa gave all the credit to the simulcast hitting the air on YES Network to the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
“It was George Steinbrenner that came up with the idea of Mike and The Mad Dog being on the YES Network. No one else,” Francesa said.
“They came to us when they were negotiating a new radio deal with him and they said ‘Hey, we need a quick answer on this. Would you guys want to be on the YES Network every day, simulcasting? You know what Imus is doing with MSNBC? We wanna do it with you guys, but we need a very quick answer’.”
Francesa said the show airing on YES Network was a sticking point for the Yankees in negotiations with CBS Radio to continue airing the franchise’s broadcasts.
“Our first deal with them were not for a lot of money. Our later deals with them were for a very significant amount of money. But it was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were. Our joining the YES Network was part of the CBS Radio contract.”
Dave Portnoy Reveals Back-And-Forth With New York Times Reporter Who Claimed He ‘Did Not Provide Answers’
“You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.
A story from The New York Times centered around “aging casino company” — Penn National Gaming — and its relationship with “degenerate gambler” — Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy — caught the eye of the face of the online outlet after the claim that he “didn’t provide answers”.
In the story, Steel claims “Penn and Barstool executives did not respond to repeated messages. Mr. Portnoy did not provide answers.” Portnoy brought the receipts to Twitter with a video of all of the correspondence he had with Times writer Emily Steel.
The alleged conversation takes place sporadically from May through November, with Portnoy offering to meet face-to-face with Steel for an interview that is mutually audio and video recorded, which Steel declines. She offered to meet Portnoy in New York for an audio recorded interview, which he declined, saying the interview needed to take place in Miami, because “I’m not running around to accommodate you at the 11th hour.”
He added “You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.
Kareem Daniel Leaving Disney After Bob Iger Reassumes Role as Company CEO
“This is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”
Bob Iger is back as the CEO of Disney, and one of the first moves he made was to announce a company restructure. Part of that restructure includes the departure of Kareem Daniel, the chair of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED).
DMED was formed under now-previous CEO Bob Chapek. The division manages Disney’s streaming services which includes ESPN+.
Daniel was considered one of those closest to Chapek. Iger announced Daniel’s departure in a memo to employees at DMED.
“It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are,” Iger said in the memo. “As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”
ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro will join other company leaders in coming up with a new company structure that Iger hopes “puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.