By way of Fightlinker I came across more follow-up on the Dana White accuses media outlets (ie Sherdog) of biasing their pound-for-pound rankings in favor of smaller promotions who advertise with them. He cites old school MMA writer and USAT/SBN Consensus MMA Rankings panelist Jim Genia dropping this oldie but a goodie:
Dana White claims independent online rankings are influenced by payoffs - Yes, guilty as charged. However, this is actually different than when White used to pay journalists to cover the UFC (including yours truly), because this is fictional.
Then he links to an old friend we haven't seen for a while Robert Joyner, formerly of MMA Payout and an old school BE community member as robnashville (I even unbanned him) who catalogs several of Dana White's questionable dealings with the media:
Lost in translation by most folks are the innumerable efforts by the UFC on a daily basis to influence, curry favor, or even bully the MMA media in getting their own preferential coverage:
- Who's putting media outlets on their cage signage? The UFC placed ads for USAToday on the Octagon at UFC 100.
- Who's putting MMA media sites in their video games? Check out MMA Fanhouse as a sponsor available in the new UFC Undisputed 2010
- Who's hiring out MMA Fanhouse talent for some of their shows and websites? Oh yeah, the UFC. Mike Chiappetta has hosted the last couple of seasons of the TUF aftershow podcast in addition to writing for UFC Magazine. Ariel Helwani hosted the UFC weigh-in pre-show on UFC.com the other day and blogs for Zuffa television partner Versus. Are those relationships coming to the fore when said writers pen items that are out and out defensive of Zuffa product, like this piece on UFC 108 or the legendary Ariel on CroCop rant after his near exit from the UFC?
- Who's partnering with Yahoo.com to sell UFC pay-per-views? Yep, that would be the UFC.
- Who uses their credentialing process to shade coverage of their company? One of the few people in the business that will ask Dana White tough questions, Josh Gross, can't get credentialed. Sherdog fluctuates between the penthouse and the outhouse when it comes to UFC access. Even lapdogs like Steve Cofield get threatened over access if they ask tough questions, like when Cofield questioned Dana about his fighters like Drew Fickett getting DWI's at the Bud Light press conference. The blunt instrument of access is is used to cow the media coverage, so you end up with journalism from the likes of the Steve Marrocco's of the world.
Joyner is obviously throwing stones (coincidentally he's not working in MMA right now) at a lot of fine reporters and media outlets, but I believe it's worth while having this discussion out in the open where those concerned can respond.
It's less a matter of corrupt reporters -- seriously, no one covers this sport for money, NO ONE -- than it is Dana's self-serving view of the role of the press. He's really no different than many other business and political leaders these days, but I must say he's right up there with the leaders of the pack in terms of contempt for journalism as a craft and the role of honest, unbiased reporters.
I believe Dana was projecting his own motivations and how he would behave as an MMA writer. But sadly Dana, the same ruthless go for the throat instincts that make you the best promoter in MMA history (by far), are not the things that motivate those of us who write about the sport we love. We just want to help tell the stories of these amazing athletes whose heart, skill and dedication give us so much joy.
UPDATE: But wait, there's more. Luke Thomas reminds me of this incident with Sirius radio DJ Scott Ferrall being paid by the UFC to attend shows.