Rogers Blue Jays Baseball: A 24/7 Propaganda Machine

I once wrote a research paper for journalism ethics class looking at how the Blue Jays coverage is affected by the fact that Rogers owns both the team and the entire media apparatus that covers the team, exclusively. There is a term in sports called ‘homers’ to describe reporters that are impartial to the home team. But this is something else. Sportsnet is a 24/7 propaganda machine for the team.

You can see this in cringe-inducing interviews with their manager, John Gibbons, where Sportsnet reporters ask leading non-questions that amount to nothing more than ‘that was great.’ Last night in the post-game, Barry Davis asked a question like that. I can’t find the tape online anywhere (if you share it with me, I’ll post it). But I vividly remember Gibbons looking at the non-question and saying ‘what do you want from me?’ What Davis wanted was boosterism, but even the manager couldn’t be that much of a shill. In that same post-game, Barry Davis asked a slumping Troy Tulowitzki if he was ‘turning things around.’ In that game, Tulowitzki had three hits–but 2 of them were lucky bloopers. How is one game with two bloopers significant enough to suggest Tulowitzki is ‘turning things around?’ Tulowitzki smirked and said something like “I’m not going to say that, I’m just going to keep grinding through this.” Again, even the players won’t oblige Barry Davis’ mindless boosterism.

If I find either of those videos (or you share them), I’ll post them here.

Anyways, if you needed any further evidence that this relationship is weird and inappropriate, here it is. From the Star: 

While Sportsnet has enjoyed record-breaking ratings this month as the Blue Jays ramp up their first pennant race in more than 20 years, the team’s official broadcaster is also stuck in a protracted conflict with its highest-profile player.

Jose Bautista has refused to do one-on-one interviews with Sportsnet for the past three months in protest of the broadcaster’s refusal to pay the cost of a designer suit purchased by rookie Devon Travis as part of a TV segment aired on Sportsnet on May 19.

Lets put this strange standoff aside for one minute and point out one simple and startling fact: the Star reported this. It has been three months of a protracted stand-off and Sportsnet essentially hid this from their audience. Did any show mention this once? How did they get around the peculiarity of using MLB Network interviews instead of Sportsnet interviews? As their official broadcaster and the place of all things Blue Jays, did they not think this worthy of reporting? Constantly, they refer to Bautista as the team’s undisputed leader–but, he just happens to do no interviews, while John Gibbons is interviewed at least 3-5 times per day. This was certainly newsworthy. However, it would put the Blue Jays, Sportsnet, and Rogers in a poor light. So they didn’t report it.