City Paper is not for tourists
Compared to the competition, Brett Haber dishes out more scoops than Baskin Robbins. At 10:38 p.m., during the postgame show from Jacksonville after the Skins’ blowout loss, WUSA-TV’s sports director sat in the rain and with appropriate breathlessness announced that quarterback Mark Brunell would soon be traded to Seattle for an undisclosed draft pick.
If true, that’s a bombshell. Only a couple hours earlier, Brunell looked as swell as he ever has in burgundy and gold, going 5-6 for 47 yards and a sweet TD with no turnovers or sacks. The performance might have been good enough to get him back to second string, over Todd Collins.
But here was Haber, telling viewers that Brunell’s play was irrelevant, because he’s outta here. And he even had a video clip where he confronted Brunell about the allegedly imminent departure on the field just after the game; Brunell’s nervousness and stammered nondenial lent credence to the trade report.
Haber was standing alone on this report. When the clock struck 11 p.m., and all the other local network affiliates were leading off with tapes of Larry “Wide Stance” Craig talking to cops about bathroom decorum, Channel 9 went back to Haber, who was still out in the rain and hammering home “9 Sports has learned exclusively” that Brunell’s a goner.
Accurate or not, it was fantastic television.
If Brunell’s departure pans out, this would be as big a story break as the one Haber had in the spring of 2006, when he announced the Lerner family would be awarded ownership of the Washington Nationals.
At 11:23 p.m., WRC-TV’s Lindsay Czarniak opened her sports segment by trying to shoot down Haber’s report (Skins offensive guru Al Saunders says “nothing is confirmed,” Czarniak said) without ever mentioning Haber. Her former boss, George Michael, also used up a lot of air time trying to pooh-pooh Haber’s reporting after he broke the Lerner story. Perhaps Czarniak forgot what a clown Michael ended up looking like in that episode.