City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: Tony Kornheiser, Mike Wise, and Me?

Tony Kornheiser's acting like a bad guy with a dark heart again. Earlier this week, he went after Mike Wise on Dan Snyder's sportstalker, WTEM, spending much of his show ranting about a week-old column from Wise for no obvious reason. Kornheiser mocked Wise for wondering if the Redskins would win another game this season before the Denver game. Kornheiser behaved as if Wise had called Dewey over Truman. There was nothing funny about Kornheiser's rants. (The Great Dan Steinberg Steinographs the unfunny hate here.)

Kornheiser, of course, really didn't give a rip about Wise's column. He just wanted to rip Wise.

Full disclosure: I think Kornheiser's a bad guy with a dark heart.

'Course, I only met him once, for about 10 minutes about 10 years ago at a Washington Post holiday party. It's one of my favorite party stories, right up there with having Alan Greenspan wonder if he'd shown up at the wrong event after encountering me and my thrift-store wardrobe at a book party, and getting attacked by Buddy Holly's shop teacher during a night out in Lubbock.

Tell the Kornheiser-and-me one again? Sure!

Kornheiser had gotten a Post editor who now makes appearances on his radio show to invite me to the party, so he could attack me for something I'd written that he didn't like. When I arrived he cornered me and pulled an old column of mine out of his coat pocket that he'd been carrying around for a while and waved it in the air while yelling that I'd "never write for a real newspaper." I could tell from the way his co-workers acted after he finished yelling that they'd seen his bizarre act before.

And not long after that party Kornheiser got me fired from a $75-a-week freelance job with the Washington Post's sports section because of something else I wrote for Washington City Paper.

Kornheiser got me canned for writing about a February 1981 story he wrote for the Style section of the Washington Post called "Ken Beatrice: Facts and Fears on the Airwaves."

Beatrice was a beloved oddball back then, with a popular nightly sportstalk radio show. Kornheiser was much newer to D.C. than Mike Wise is now, and, to use the angle Kornheiser used during his rants against Wise, didn't understand what Beatrice meant to this town.

But Kornheiser had learned that Beatrice had fibbed about his college football career, and that Beatrice's PhD was from an unaccredited university, and used those tidbits to write 4,000 of the meanest words to ever appear in the Post. Beatrice weighed less then Karen Carpenter, and on good days looked more frail than the average intensive care ward patient, yet Kornheiser spent much of the story reveling in how much distress he caused Beatrice during "at least eight hours" of interviews. Even if he'd never gotten weird on me at a holiday party or gotten me fired, his Beatrice story was enough by itself to leave me believing Kornheiser's a bad guy with a dark heart.

One passage of Kornheiser's piece:

[Beatrice] was not looking well.

Pale. So pale and waxy that he could have been on exhibit at Madame Tussaud's.

And gaunt, like he hadn't eaten in weeks.

Nervously, he wiped his right hand hard across his forehead and through his dark hair, matting it. There were white flecks at the corners of his mouth. When he went to light his pipe his hands trembled. He took in great gulps of air. It seemed like he was drowning.

In fact, he seemed terrified.

About the prospect of this story.

Kornheiser was trying to hurt Beatrice, and he succeeded. Beatrice had a nervous breakdown after Kornheiser's story ran and had to leave the airwaves for a while to convalesce.

Listeners begged Beatrice to come back to his radio show, and he eventually did.

Despite knowing he'd caused Beatrice physical harm, Kornheiser never backed off Beatrice. When Kornheiser got a show of his own on WTEM a decade later, he used it to continue to bully Beatrice.

I listened to Kornheiser's radio show on Monday, and he sounded pretty frail himself. He sure seemed hurt while talking about Jon Gruden, his replacement on "Monday Night Football," being re-signed to a long ESPN contract, the deal Kornheiser was never offered. So he tried to work out his wounds by going after Mike Wise, who he's been saying mean, unfunny things about for years. Just like he did Beatrice back in the day. But now Kornheiser sounds too weak to even be a good bully anymore. He just comes off as sad.

Back to me: Over the years, because of his multi-media successes, I've probably been asked more about getting fired because of Tony Kornheiser than about anything I've ever written.

So I don't like seeing him falling like this. Pretty soon nobody's going to want me to retell the story of me and Tony Kornheiser.

Oh, well. The one about me and Buddy Holly's shop teacher's more fun, anyway.

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  • Grumpy

    Wow...who knew TK Stackmoney was a prick for real??

    Oh well, add another shill(ing) in $nyder's pocket

  • Anonymous

    You mean Tony Kornholer?

  • http://www.PotomacSecretAgent.com PotomacSecretAgent

    Very nicely said. Karma? Mean spirited people get their just desserts eventually. I heard Mike Wise on his radio show yesterday, and he was pretty upset. Tony Kornheiser should mind his own business and work on improving HIS reputation instead of focusing on sullying others.

  • http://twointheboxblog.blogspot.com Dan

    A buddy of mine does voice-over work, and was doing a job at Atlantic Viedo in DC...same place that TK and Wilbon do PTI. My friend...we'll call him Tom...is in the elevator to head up to the studio and Kornheiser gets into his elevator. Tom says, "You're Tony Kornheiser, right?" (not so much in a fan-boy way, more of a fellow New Yorker, how-you-doin kind of way).

    Tony turns and says, "Yeah. I don't do conversations."

    Tom take a minute...then hits him back with "much be a bitch when people call you on the phone, huh?"

    I DON'T DO CONVERSATIONS? What a douche.

  • JAH

    I remember hearing Ken Beatrice on WMAL when I was a little kid riding to and from school, practices, etc. in my moms Colony Park station wagon. He was a Washington sports institution and I had no idea Kornheiser pulled that crap on him. Now I just have one other reason to dislike the guy. His act has gone really stale.....oh, and if I happen to accidentally turn n 980 before 1 PM again and hear that stupid jingle for "Tony's mailbag" I honestly might have to puke.

  • Mitch

    Any hater of Kornheiser is a friend of mine. I saw/heard Kornheiser on Monday Night Football and he was HORRIBLE...HORRIBLE...I had to stop watching it was so bad (or at least turn off the sound). He's a jerk, and I can't looking at his ugly face on television either. Good for you, Dave. Nice article!

  • Jason Cherkis

    Kornheiser has zero credibility when he took that radio job. He's not a journalist--he never was much of one anyway. Now, he's just one of Dan Snyder's employees.

    Wise's feature story on Cooke's son was better than anything Kornheiser has written in at least a decade.

  • PC

    There is so much irony in someone writing a post calling someone they met only once a "bad guy with a dark heart." If he is a "bad guy," what does this attack say about you?

    He might be an ass, but he was right. You still aren't writing for a real newspaper.

  • nokorny

    It has always astounded me how this buffoon ever got a TV or radio gig... and keeps getting them! Just shows the intelligence of the people who keep hiring him.

  • Nick

    I have been in dc a lot longer than kornheiser and no serious sports fan I know has ever liked him. I am happy to see his fall. He is rotten crum, a bad writer, unfunny and a clown. He sucks beyond belief.

  • http://ptolemey.blogspot.com/ slangist

    No writer who is incapable of seeing his own foibles as mirrored in others can possibly be any more than faintly amusing some of the time. Phony Hornkeister's failures derive from that principle. He is merely a shtickmeister with the sensibilities of a frat boy. He sucks up to the popular and pisses down on the marginalized. He is a perfect example of Freud's theory of jokes as aggression, with the drawback that none of his jokes are funny.

    His work is, at best, defensive. He seeks to inoculate himself against charges of nerdhood with vast sports knowledge. But he only knows about two jokes, and he fits everything into those forms. The jokes are, "His dick is so small" (How small is it, Phony?) "He needs a magnifying glass to find the tweezers to hold it with." The other is, "His dick is so big" (How big is it, Phony?) "He needs to keep it strapped to his thigh during games."

    Since he works in mainstream media he, of course, has to translate these jokes into various other put-downs and glorifications. You might think this was a work of creativity until you notice that, if Hornkeister can ever substitute a shtick for an actual joke, he will do it every time. It is as the Englishman said of someone with extremely poor taste, "In lieu of an actual ornament, he placed a garden gnome beside the walk."

    His popularity has nothing to do with his merit. They are not automatically opposed phenomena but neither are they automatically allied.

    I recall an instance where some hockey player had given Phony an opportunity to proclaim (which he thought was the same as demonstrating) his superiority. Being terminally insecure, he wanted to seem better not only than that hockey player in particular but than the game of hockey and hockey fans in general. I disremember the specifics but it involved Phony's questioning the player's mental capacity or masculinity or both. When he finished his rant, Phony said, with the happy sigh of a pervert who has just had sex with the head of a dead goat, "I just love doing that to guys."

    That's the real Phony Hornkeister. Not a dark heart. No heart.

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  • eighthdwarf

    TK is someone who only seems to believe he's succeeded if he knows someone else has failed. Like Ron Burgundy, he's not afraid to tell people he's "a pretty big deal." You have to wonder how his kids will turn out, having grown up in a home with that kind of attitude. I used to think it was an act, but I don't think that anymore.

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  • Grumpy

    'You stay classy Lynbrook' - T. Burgundy

  • Your mom

    Kornheiser rules... I like him even more know that I read your firing story. Clah-sic

  • Dave McKenna

    Mom: i know i haven't been the best son, and, sure, this post was whiny. but, couldn't you just have called? what i mean is, thanks for Playing the Feud!

  • Nigil

    It is amazing that people enjoy tearing down people that have had success in life. I understand that people that gain poser tend to abuse it. I think this article is part jealousy of TK because you have not had the same success. People attack others every day, he just has the medium to do it for all. My friends and I rip analysts and writers every day and what TK does is no different. So you all need to grow up or just start wearing diapers because you all are acting like babies. If your skin is that thin you need to look at yourself because you are probably a failure now and will always be a failure.

  • Dave McKenna

    i need diapers? i say kornheiser's got darkness in his heart, so you say i've got darkness in my undies? Bring the pain, Nigil! and thanks for playing the feud!

  • DR

    Kornheiser is a miserable human being- that was always obvious. kudos to mckenna for bringing this story to the forefront.

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  • ToodleooAss

    Tony Kornheiser is a cum guzzling road whore who is currently trying to book a trip to Egypt so he can be used like a toilet by sandmonkeys. Plus, there's the combover.

  • Fuck You Tony

    Kornholer was always a douchebag and a dickhead.. What he did to Beatrice was absolutely disgusting. Hiwever, we should congratulate him for finding his true calling: performing fellatio on the malignant dwarf.

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