Fox Sports national president Jamie Horowitz fired amid sexual harassment probe https://t.co/dWGw2wNur8
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) July 3, 2017
Note: the above Tweet is an update to the firing of Jamie Horowitz and the surrounding controversy
The elation all over sports Twitter should show you just how big the news is that Jamie Horowitz will be leaving Fox Sports. A mere week after the Fox Sports website made a switch to an all-video format, which pushed out great writers like Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel, Horowitz is now the one getting the boot.
This paragraph from an email sent to FOX Sports employees sure seems to be the tale of the tape on Horowitz’ ouster. pic.twitter.com/Ey4XRb8cn8
— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) July 3, 2017
The Tweet above certainly indicates that programming may not be the reason for Horowitz’ firing. The fact that he has already hired a litigator only reinforces this idea.
While this story is likely to only get more interesting, there is little beyond the facts on the surface that we have to go on. The programming side of things, however, is far more cut and dry.
The first mark Jamie Horowitz made on the sports media landscape was “Embrace Debate”, The movement that put Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless together for two hours on a daily basis. While a few hot take guys here and there certainly spice up a network, Horowitz made it his mission that the entire network would hinge around this concept.
He left ESPN in 2014 to take over “Today”, a role that he never even started after allegedly clashing with several members of the staff. (His “Today” stint, or lack thereof, provides context for his Fox exit and the questions that surround it. Again, I’m sure we learn much more in the coming days and weeks).
But it was not until he took over at Fox Sports, in May of last year, when he was allowed to truly hatch his full plot. This was his Death Star.
It began with the hiring of Colin Cowherd. I’ve made no bones about it, I’ve never had a big problem with Cowherd. In fact, his show is what first got me truly interested in doing sports radio. I found his show different and unique. Yes, he’s hot take-ey. I said it a few paragraphs ago, a few those of those guys isn’t a bad thing.
That was Horowitz’ problem, though. It didn’t stop with Cowherd. The king of the hot take, Skip Bayless (Horowitz’ personal favorite sports guy), commanded, or was gifted, a massive contract. A simple check of Richard Deitsch’s Twitter profile will show you that Bayless’ show “Undisputed”, with Shannon Sharpe, is regularly defeated in the ratings by shows like Nickelodeon’s “Bubble Guppies”.
The other Death Star plans included Nick Wright, Jason Whitlock, Rob Parker, another hour of Cowherd in the afternoon with Whitlock on “Speak for Yourself”. FS1 had become one big hot-take generator. Hell, as someone who loves talking MJ-LeBron, I reached a point where I just couldn’t turn on the channel. Led by Nick Wright, every nook and cranny of the generational debate was beaten to death, so much so that the network became almost unwatchable.
A network that once centered around fun-loving Jay and Dan, creative Katie Nolan, and the prospects of competing against ESPN, became a clone of all the worst aspects of the worldwide leader. The most glaring example of this came last week, when all written work was purged from the Fox Sports website. The sacrifice of integrity and journalism for hot takes had hit it’s peak. It was also the last major act by Horowitz as head of Fox Sports.
The legacy of Jamie Horowitz is a pretty basic one. He took something that was a fun, ridiculous aspect of sports media, the hot take, and tried to make an entire network out of it. He took a young network with a solid foundation and a chance to eventually compete with ESPN, and turned it into a joke.
And a personal note; he took my favorite thing on the network, the Friday night college football countdown with Matt Leinart, Clay Travis, Stewart Mandel, and others (see, balance), and did away with it.
In fact, it was Mandel who perfectly summed up how we all feel, in one tweet.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) July 3, 2017
I’ll second the mic drop from Stu. #karma