A lesson in Houston Chronicle crisis management

Image credit: Pixabay

Last night, the story broke.

A handful (one, two, three?) of disgruntled Houston Texans fans decided to act silly, showed up at Matt Schaub’s house (allegedly) and proceeded to heckle him and his family *. I think it goes without saying that this is horrible behavior. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that alcohol, and a lack of common sense, played a big role in this.

It is one thing to suggest Schaub has played badly, that the Texans won’t go far with him at QB etc.  Matt Schaub is a big boy, he is well paid, and all of the prior statements are based on fact. Because of that it is okay for fans to be critical and to demand better performance. What is never okay is bringing the family into it. Nor is it okay to make it personal — we all know this. It is why, as fans, we can cheer/boo our team and then shake it off after a few minutes of venting and go about our day.  For those few fans across the globe unable to disengage, I would imagine that life is a dark and dreary place. I cannot imagine the depths one would have to achieve to think that showing up to a player’s home to engage in some light heckling is a good idea. I’ve heard rumor that the fanatics took pictures of Schaub’s family as well, and possibly even posted them on Facebook.  If that’s the case then they’ve hit lows that even the mafia wouldn’t consider.  In case you’re wondering, that’s pretty low.

Of course, no act of idiocy can occur without an equal act of idiocy coming back in return. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction after all.  If you’re surprised that one of the first on the bandwagon was Jerome “Curly” Solomon, then the Houston Chronicle is not your go-to destination for sports news. In Jerome’s world you, the fan, don’t know that Schaub is a good guy. Because of this, it is his job to lecture you on the matter.  In case you didn’t get that, Daniel Gotera of KHOU is here to remind you as well.  It’s a curious thing that the Rah! Rah! Houston Sports Media goes into lecture mode every time someone, somewhere acts a fool. There is a deep undercurrent of disdain in Houston media for the general populace.  At a minimum, they have a very low opinion of our ability to think and reason.

The lecturing was soon followed by the mock outrage of The General John McClain.  I’m not sure which is worse, his overinflated sense of moral outrage or his need to promote his media appearances by leveraging an act he calls “beyond despicable.” I’ll tell you what’s beyond despicable: John McClain leading off his morning appearance on Sports Radio 610 defending his employer, the Houston Chronicle, which ran a front page ad on Chron.com (headline and blurb since changed) advertising a home with the headline “Live next to an NFL star.” According to McClain, an online editor added the line “Matt Schaub lives three doors down.” Of course, McClain also followed with “there’s no proof linking the Chronicle story with what happened.”  For someone who was, just last night, disgusted by the actions of a few fans, he sure has pivoted quickly from moral outrage to professional damage control.

Of course, in true Chronicle style, the listing has been modified. As is the norm when the Houston Chronicle finds itself knee-deep in a mess, it’s easier just to click your heels three times and wish a problem away than it is to face up to it and deal with the consequences. To be clear, these are things that bad newspapers do.  When you don’t have sufficient editing and you don’t have a firm hand on the till, then things that seem funny, despite not being bright, slip through.

Bad things slipping through are becoming habit over at chron.com.  Just a few weeks ago you had the  slide-show denigrating office workers which followed a story making fun of janitors, fast food workers, and garbage men. Give them this — they’re non-discriminatory in their hatred of Houston’s workforce.

Whether it’s the Apple Dumpling Gang reminding us all that the key to continuing Houston’s success is to change everything that made us successful in the first place to one of the many bad Chron columnists lecturing us on the moral outrage of the day, ChronBlog has devolved into more of a pop-culture hub than an actual news source. It’s no longer a place where Houston goes to be informed about the compelling, local issues of the day. Instead it’s become a place where snark is King (or Queen), where people go to see side boob shots of the rich and famous and navel-gazing by Teen Beat writers posing as Metro columnists rather than a detailed run-down of the prior night’s Mayoral debate.

In short: It is no longer Houston’s Major News Daily. The Chronicle (and chron.com in particular) is a gossip rag along the lines of CultureMap or Houston Press, an alt-media daily sans the prostitution ads on the back page.

* HPD now tweets that the initial report was erroneous. Here are the relevant tweets (as of publication):