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And Another Thing

The Plain Dealer / Associated Press
A poster of LeBron James ends up head first in the garbage at Cleveland's Harry Buffalo restaurant after Thursday's announcement.

We interrupt this vacation for an important announcement from ESPN

Which is, "Any pretext we once made to being a 'news organization' is now null and void. We are strictly what our acronym implies -- an entertainment vehicle not to be taken seriously."

This after last night's unbelievably cheesy game show starring LeBron James as LeBron James, and Jim Gray as Alex Trebek. And I'll take Miami for $100, Alex!

Good God. I'd actually feel embarrassed for ESPN if I hadn't seen "Around the Horn" as many times as I have, and realized that ESPN's capacity for embarrassment is pretty much limitless.

In one 60-minute chunk last night the Worldwide Leader ditched any shred of journalistic dignity it had left and succumbed totally to the cockeyed notion that a news organ (allegedly) can indeed be part of the story if the price tag is juicy enough. Watching Jim Gray suture his lips to LeBron's hindparts because that's what LeBron was paying him to do was what it must have been like watching a Soviet "journalist" interview Stalin. So, some nice weather we're having here in Moscow, eh, Comrade Josef? And let me be the first to congratulate you on your latest purge ...

Forget the incredible narcissism of the whole thing, as well as the nuclear classlessness it took for LeBron to use a prime-time special to break up with his hometown team. In a city much betrayed, this was the ultimate betrayal for Cleveland -- provoking a response from Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert that, while childish in a 5-year-old-who's-friend-just-stole-his-ball sort of way, was at least refreshing in its raw honesty.

Worse than what LeBron did to Cleveland, though, is what ESPN allowed LeBron to do to it. Not only did management undercut its own reporters with this horrid display, it committed the cardinal sin of becoming an element of a story it was supposed to be reporting. The latter is, or should be, its only true function.

But then, I'm old school. I actually believed what they taught me in J-school.

Ben Smith's blog.