William Houston is a Bitter Blogger: Truth or Rumour?

Published by Toronto Mike on April 16, 2010 @ 20:22 in News

NewspaperI always liked William Houston's Truth and Rumours in the Globe and Mail. He mainly covered the sports media, which I've naturally been interested in forever. William Houston wrote that column for 19 years until he accepted a buy out and left the Globe in February 2009, and has since taken up blogging at Truth & Rumours.

He wrote a blog entry the other day that has the blogosphere atwitter. He called out a whole bunch of media people, then completely edited the entry and deleted the 160+ comments left by fans convinced he's lost it.

I found a Google Cache of the original entry, but it only has a few comments preserved. You can see that entry in this screen cap I've kept for posterity. Aww heck, here's a good ol' paste job to save you the click.

Gone fishing? Not yet, but it’s tempting

  Why the absence? Well, I was away for awhile and frankly it’s been difficult to get motivated post-Olympics. Distractions include good weather and a Chestnut canoe, refurbished and re-canvassed, that has more appeal right now than the computer screen.

   I launched Truth & Rumours in mid-October 2009 with a column ripping the Toronto media, particularly the Toronto Star, for shamelessly sucking up to Maple Leaf general manager Brian Burke, while ignoring, for the most part, his moronic deal with the Boston Bruins that sent two first round draft choices, plus a second, to the Bruins for Phil Kessel. I predicted the Bruins would end up with a top three pick, perhaps first overall, in the 2010 NHL entry draft.

  So, it’s fitting, after a long absence, that I return one day after the NHL lottery awarded Boston the second selection in the June draft.

   After I criticized the trade, calling it reckless and irresponsible, the Star’s Damien Cox rushed to Burke’s defense. It will take years to settle this debate. The key comparison next season will be Kessel, who says he will return in better shape, versus Tyler Seguin, a centre whom the Bruins will likely take with the Leaf pick.

   I liked Burke’s acquisition of Dion Phaneuf for which he sent the Calgary Flames a bunch of nobodies. Still, shouldn’t the Leaf front office be wondering about guy who looked great in his first game, but never came close to achieving that level of play for the remainder of the season? But never mind, Phaneuf’s record will be good enough for the Leaf brain trust to  appoint him captain.

  Among the relative newcomers to the hockey media, I enjoyed the work of Doug MacLean on Fan590 and Rogers Sportsnet. On the flip side, I continue to be unimpressed by Sportsnet’s Darin Millard, who’s been around since the launch of the channel and is easily the most irritating and unlikable personality in hockey broadcasting.

  The biggest joke of 2009-10, unfortunately, was the spectacle of James Mirtle attempting to function as a Globe and Mail hockey writer. A statistics wonk with limited journalistic skills, poor James struggled, to say the least. Consider his gruesome effort on April 12, in which he “reports” on Leaf coach Ron Wilson’s assessment of the season.

  Mirtle wanted us to know that some ex-Leafs felt the players in the room had given up playing for Wilson.

  He wrote, “And while at least one of those traded has quietly told friends around the league that the Leafs coach had ‘lost the room,’ it’s now crystal clear Burke came down on the side of Wilson, shuttling out nearly 40 per cent of his roster in a span of five weeks in a bid to clear out the malcontents.”

   Okay, so who’s the player quietly telling “friends around the league” that Wilson lost the room? Either James didn’t know, or he didn’t have the guts to report his name. It was just cheap gossip and a cowardly bit of work. And didn’t you love his term “crystal clear”? My god, that hackneyed piece of twaddle was worn out and over-used decades ago.

   Still, if reading Mirtle isn’t good for a laugh, there’s always Chris Zelkovich, the broadcast columnist for the Star. Now, Chris isn’t a funny guy, really, but in Monday’s edition of the Star he did a wonderful job of amusing his readers with his logo picture. Apparently, Chris had been watching some 3D TV, so the Star gave him 3D eye glasses to wear and the result was, well, hilarious. Imagine Alfred E. Neuman as a slap-head senior citizen wearing a goofy, toothless grin on his face and red and blue spectacles. Very amusing.

In his revised version that's currently live on his blog, Houston tones down his James Mirtle hate-on and completely removes his Chris Zelkovich digs. That's right, the Alfred E. Neuman line didn't make it through the edits.

There are three possibilities here:

  1. William Houston's blog has been hacked
  2. William Houston has lost his mind
  3. William Houston is a bitter man, resentful of those still gainfully employed in the MSM

Which option gets your vote?

Comments 19 comments

19 Responses to "William Houston is a Bitter Blogger: Truth or Rumour?"

CoolJ90
April 16, 2010 / 21:12

I think 3 is the correct one, with 2 still being a possibility. Not sure if you saw it, but he posted another article today (which has also been removed) where he wrote "F U" as a response to the many critiques of his work.

I loved DGBs comment about how it was hilariously ironic for Houston to talk about something that was well out-dated, only to follow that up with the Alfred E Neuman reference in the next paragraph.

CoolJ90
April 16, 2010 / 21:36

Also, it is hilarious that he states he "enjoy(s) the work of Doug MacLean'. To be fair, we all enjoy his work, it's pretty funny. Unfortunately for him, we're all laughing AT Doug, and now Houston for what he said.

_Justink
April 16, 2010 / 23:36

I was always a big fan of Houston's column. Every day when I read the Globe and Mail online, I would check Houston's columnist page to see if he had any new articles up. I don't think I missed a Houston column for over 2 years before he retired. I was, and still am, very interested in the media in general but especially sports media.

When I saw Houston started a blog, I was ecstatic. I had been thoroughly enjoying mr. Houston's blog up until the Mirtle post. I wasn't completely outraged like some were, but I felt is was very disrespectful and I was quite disappointed in William.

You see, instead of writing a hateful comment on his blog, I sent Houston an e-mail. It was a very long and carefully-worded e-mail. I tried not to sound hateful, but I let him know that I was very disappointed in his blog post. I wrote at the end that I would like a response, as it was only fair that someone responds after being written a long and passionate e-mail. Guess what, no response.

The least Houston could do would be to respond to my e-mail.

Toronto Mike
April 17, 2010 / 00:20

I have the now deleted new entry from William Houston in my RSS Reader. Here it is...

Tut, tut, tut . . . Readers, the poor flowers, are upset

Well, that was fun. My previous column, a nicely nuanced piece completely devoid of malice, drew 160 comments, and counting. That’s a landslide record. So, thanks for the interest.

Unfortunately, the more delicate readers of T&R were offended by the enthusiasm and, I dare say, the ferocity of my arguments, all of which were perfectly valid, of course. So, after a good deal of deliberation, I’ve decided that I owe a response to these gentle souls.

Here it is: F.U. And say hello to your friends in the basement.

Continuing . . .

It’s great to see the CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada giving Bob Cole an important NHL playoff assignment. Bob has been more than a little sour about his forced semi-retirement, so he should be bucked up by getting the Ottawa Senators-Pittsburgh Penguins series, arguably Hockey Night’s lead match-up in the first round.

I attempted to interview Cole during the 2009-10 season, but his agent Elliott Kerr explained that Bob wasn’t talking to the media. Apparently, he was concerned about saying something nasty about his employer.

Cole lost his position as Hockey Night’s No.1 announcer a year ago when Jim Hughson was tapped to call the Stanley Cup final. In my view, it was the correct decision. Bob, after all, is 77 years old. On a good day, he’s still the best play by play announcer in hockey – a terrific voice, has a sense of the moment, is strong on the big call and keeps the story simple. But, on a bad day, he gets the names wrong and is late announcing goals.

As the Cup tournament wears on, Cole gets tired and his work declines. That said, it’s still a joy to hear him calling a game – on a good day.

Among Hockey Night’s announcers, Mark Lee drew the short straw in the first round. He has been relegated to the Colorado Avalanche-San Jose Sharks series. Not only was the semi-retired Cole given a better series than Lee, but Hockey Night outsourced the Boston Bruins-Buffalo Sabres series to Dean Brown, the Ottawa Senators voice. The Bruins-Sabres match-up is probably of more interest to Canadians than Colorado-San Jose.

A reader asked why the Montreal Canadiens-Washington Capitals series is airing on TSN and not the CBC, a broadcast network that can be seen without cable.

Answer: As part of the NHL’s TV deal negotiated with CBC and TSN a few years ago, CBC gets to pick two series involving Canadian teams, and TSN
gets the third, if there is a third. The CBC opted for Ottawa-Pittsburgh because of Sidney Crosby and took Los Angeles-Vancouver because Canucks outdraw Habs in English Canada. That left the Canadiens to TSN.

James
April 17, 2010 / 02:30

I've been following this as well. I don't know exactly what's going on, but it's bizarre.

As someone said in the comments of his blog, it's almost as if he's conducting a sociological experiment. I mean, he must realize that he's coming across like an unbelievable asshole, right?

James
April 17, 2010 / 02:59

But, overall, I vote 3.

elvis
April 17, 2010 / 05:24

He's crazy. This is also the same guy that wrote it was inappropriate for Don Cherry to run a Remembrance Day piece during Coach's Corner.

_Justink
April 17, 2010 / 07:43

Elvis - that's not entirely correct.

He said it was inappropriate to spend the WHOLE Coaches Corner on remembrance day, especially since HNIC ran a long feature about it in the pre-game show. He said that Don shouldn't have taken up all 7 minutes of Coaches Corner talking about it, and that fans wanted to hear about hockey.

jason | getyouroj.com
April 17, 2010 / 08:37

So do people not have the write to pull something written by them?

Mike appears to think so, but he may not.

Why did these circumstances make you pick something out of the trash and hang it on your wall?

Chris
April 17, 2010 / 09:06

Jason, if a journalist can't stand by his words, he should know better than to write them in the first place.

Toronto Mike
April 17, 2010 / 10:18

@OJ BOy,

What gives you the right to question my right to blog about a blog entry William Houston published to the world wide web? Content published to the web is a little different than something found in "the trash", wouldn't you say?

He wrote for the Globe and Mail for 19 years. He's a bona fide, professional journalist, and he fully understands that he's accountable for what he publishes.

He also replied to comments with "What are you? A coward, a loser, no life. Ha Ha." and responded again in a new entry with the delightful "F.U. And say hello to your friends in the basement."

I'm well within my right to continue the discussion here, since he's deleted it there.

Mike V
April 17, 2010 / 10:39

I think it's clearly 3 with maybe the early stages of 2 added on top.

Toronto Mike
April 17, 2010 / 21:04

It sure isn't #1. William Houston's edited blog entry has made its way to Fadoo.ca:

http://www.fadoo.ca/blog/display/after-a-busy-few-weeks-truth-rumours-returns-1787

Chris
April 19, 2010 / 12:59

I personally like Houston's column in the Globe (I find Bruce Dowbiggin rather annoying) and then his column. But this seems like he's gone off the deep end a bit. Too bad.

Il Duce
April 19, 2010 / 13:26

I hate to say it but I agree with T.O. Mike and Elvis

Let me explain...

I do agree with Mike that Houston should stand by his comments. He made a statement now stick by it. His responses to the comments clearly show that he can dish it out but he sure can't take it.

I agree with Elvis that Houston is crazy. Cherry has every right to pay tribute to fallen soldiers. It has nothing to do with hockey but if you don't like don't watch. Cherry's fans and his detractors all watch Coach's Corner to see what Grapes is going to say on any subject, hockey related or not. Sometimes you may not like what he has to say but it's entertaining.

I read T&H regularly and I'm one of Houston's detractors. He's an over the hill, bitter journo who throws around venom to try and cling to an industry who no longer needs him. His stuff is entertaning, sort of like going to Nascar and waiting for a car crash. I can't believe the G&M paid him for being a 'sports media reporter'. What a joke, but a great gig if you can get paid to criticize others while watching TV. Just look at the other paid fraudster for the Star, Zelkovich.

To answer your question Mike, it's #3. The reason it's on Fadoo is because Houston and Bobcat are friends, that's why he's less crtical of Prime Time Sports and its great host.

Now don't get used to it because you and Elvis are still wankers.

_Justink
April 19, 2010 / 16:43

William Hoouston has dished out a half-apology. He said that it was a mistake to write about Zelkovich, and that he was too harsh on Mirtle.

FROM T&R:

And, now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Well, some of you, anyway — a response to the criticism thrown at me last week over a couple of entries in a column:
On Friday, I deleted a paragraph from a previous posting that made fun of the appearance Chris Zelkovich. It had to do with a photo in the Star of Chris wearing 3D glasses, and it was a cheap shot – unfair and juvenile. Zelkovich is a competitor, in a sense, but I don’t even know the guy. I met him once, and the conversation was short and perfunctory. I’ve made my share of mistakes as a journalist. This attempt to comment humorously about Zelkovich was one of them.
Now, to James Mirtle, a blogger and Globe and Mail journalist: Too harsh in my criticism. The piece in question was poorly reported, I felt. It’s still up, in the previous column, if you wish to see it.
On Friday afternoon, we took down the two columns that I had written because the comments section was getting hammered with some pretty vicious stuff. The only way to get rid of them was to remove the entire postings. I’m okay with taking a hit. God knows I’ve dished out plenty. But this abuse, by people who post comments without using their real names, got out of hand.
Until now, I’ve let everything go in the comments section. I’ve been slagged off. So have others, often unfairly, by people who don’t give their real names, of course. That’s changing. In the future, comments will be monitored, as they are on most other sites. And, if required, they will be edited or tossed in the trash bin. My site administrator is away for a few days, so the comments section won’t be in operation until next week.

elvis
April 19, 2010 / 20:18

Alright Il Duce/Mississauga, I'll eat your fucking lasagna.

Il Duce
April 20, 2010 / 13:59

@Elvis in Oshawa (aka wanker)

I don't know who makes a fucking lasagna! I have meat, veggie, cheese and spinach, chicken and even seafood. Let me know when you've found your favourite.


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