Jack Smacked a Gayhawk

Reprinted from the December 20, 2013 Rambling Moron column in the Platte County Landmark.

Well, it worked.

Someway. Somehow. Jack Harry has managed to come out of his “Gayhawks” comment controversy unscathed.  I would have bet all the Christmas sweaters in my closet that we’d be looking at a new sports director at 41 Action News this Sunday.

How did he do it?  By employing a very clever strategy, one that has taken down Presidents and CEOs and criminals all through time itself.  The “deny, deny, deny” strategy.

“I didn’t say it. That’s not me. That’s not what I’m about,” is what Harry, a 40 year veteran of the sports news business here in Kansas City, said on Monday evening on the Channel 41 telecast.

Say what, now?

By now, you likely know the particulars, Harry popped out with a “gayhawks” blurt when discussing the Kansas basketball team last week. At first, there was grainy Zapruder-like video of the event which prompted a “did he really say that?” controversy across town. When an HD version of the video came out, it was a mortal lock that Jack clearly said what he said he didn’t say he said.

At this point, Harry had several options ahead of him.  He could have owned it, said it was a slip of the tongue and taken a (likely) mild punishment.  He could’ve fought back and embraced the name, which would’ve been unwise.  Or, he could’ve simply said he didn’t do it.  Which I saw as the riskiest of all options.

What Jack Harry did was the classic deny and deflect strategy. He said he didn’t say it. (Even though we all heard him say it.) And he blamed social media.  This has become a classic go-to in many of these events. “It somehow got out on the social media,” Harry said in his apology.  To those of us who spend hours on Twitter and Facebook, it was quite the insult. But we are in the minority. To the majority of Americans, “social media” is a scary term like “cancer” or “conservative Democrat.” It causes confusion and vague anger.  Oh, those goofy Twitter people!!

43696220So, here we are over a week after the fact and the controversy has passed. Deny worked. At the end of the day, his victory came down to a number of factors even though he was caught red-handed:

  1. 1) Forty years of experience. This can’t be discounted. Harry likely leaned on that in conversations with management.
  2. 2) Lack of any “heavy hitters” complaining. At the end of the day, it was only social media that was making a fuss about it – and that isn’t yet enough to take someone down. The story was picked up by Deadspin and Sports Illustrated, but he was able to withstand the charge.
  3. 3) It wasn’t that big of a gaffe. To me, it was a classic Ron Burgundy moment, but to the rest of the public out there, I guess it wasn’t much more than Grandpa telling an off-color joke at Thanksgiving. Oh well, there goes Grandpa again.

So, the next time you are caught red handed by your wife or your boss or your viewing public, remember what Jack Harry did.  Just say you didn’t do it. Of course, it also helps if you’re a gray-haired grandpa and the Jayhawks are playing like garbage.

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