Kornheiser’s offends*, apologizes

*Not really. But as long as he said he was sorry, how about firing him from "Monday Night Football"?


Did you hear Tony Kornheiser’s weird, contextless non-apology apology-for-something during Monday night’s Eagles-Cowboys game? It came as ESPN made one of several nods to Hispanic Heritage Month with a graphic showing the teams’ names in Spanish.

“On that subject,” Kornheiser said, “I said something before I shouldn’t have said. I apologize for it. Not my first mistake, undoubtedly won’t be my last. But a 100 percent apology.”

Hmm. OK. Didn’t take a genius to figure out he’d said something that might have offended people of Hispanic heritage. I doubted it was a big deal, hadn’t gotten a ton of e-mails about it, which I would have if he’d uncorked something really bad, so I gave the idea of going back to try to find it all the consideration it deserved, then didn’t waste another thought on the matter.

Awful Announcing did the work, so you can see and hear the initial transgression and the apology without those pesky couple of hours in between. What happened was play-by-play man Mike Tirico introduced a replay of Felix Jones’ touchdown kickoff return, saying “Here’s what it sounded like on ESPN Deportes.”

Spanish-language announcer Alvaro Martin’s description of Jones’ run consisted of one line, repeated once: “Nadie lo va a tocar!” Kornheiser said, “I took high school Spanish, and that either means ‘nobody is going to touch him’ or ‘could you pick up my dry cleaning in the morning.’”

Some suit must have whispered in Tony’s ear to apologize, just in case. I doubt the Disney switchboards were flooded. It would take some mental gymnastics to turn the dry-cleaning comment into something offensive to Latinos. Is there some dry-clean-laziness stereotype I don’t know about?

Kornheiser was just making weak, unfunny fun of his own inability to speak Spanish, although — this is kind of postmodern — he does speak at least enough Spanish to have gotten the translation right: “Nobody is going to touch him.”

But here’s the thing: Steve Lyons got fired by Fox for saying something on a baseball broadcast that wasn’t any more offensive than what Kornheiser said. It was the same kind of deal, a dumb, unfunny joke with no offense intended and none inflicted without major effort being expended.

I don’t think Lyons should have gotten the boot over what he said, though I wasn’t sad to have him off the air. I’ll say what’s good for Psycho is good for Mr. Tony. If I have to pretend to be offended to get Kornheiser off of “Monday Night Football,” I’m game.

J’accuse, Tony Kornheiser! That’s either French for “I accuse” or “Please stick to ‘Pardon the Interruption’ and let Ron Jaworski talk about coverage schemes.”

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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