So I'm perusing the USA Today last week when I come across this gem, written by Sports/TV columnist Michael Hiestand, regarding CBS analyst Billy Packer and his premature criticism of the NCAA tournament selection committee (for favoring mid-major conferences more than usual):

"Whether a TV analyst is right is not as important as a TV analyst being willing to take chances and say things that could prove wrong."

While I understand Hiestand's position–that people paid to have opinions should, y'know, have opinions–I think that in the era of dial-to-dial sports talk radio and Pardon The Interruption clones, you'd be hard pressed to find too many TV analysts who don't shoot their mouths off. If anything, the problem with sports media today is that columnists like Hiestand applaud analysts and interviewers for "asking the tough questions," regardless of whether they get good answers.

So George Mason makes the Final Four, along with two SEC teams and one Pac-10 team, and none from the Big 10 or Big East—the conferences that Packer thought the NCAA selection committee screwed over. And yet, because Packer feels he was right at the time he jumped all over the NCAA committee chairman, he doesn't see any need to say he was wrong, or apologize for being so obnoxious on Selection Sunday. Apparently, the NCAA had damn well better be accountable for its decisions, but those who hold it accountable are above reproach.

Somehow this ties into the culture of "truthiness": the media stance that The Colbert Report spoofs so well, where journalists become heroes for stirring up shit, regardless of whether they actually know what they're talking about. In Packer's case, his "expert" status hasn't been diminished much, because he still knows more about college basketball than 95% of the people who ply the analyst trade. But that doesn't mean he can't own up when he blows it, or even temper his comments to sound more fair and rational in the future. Because while swaggering around may make good television, it's lousy journalism.

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