Mariotti often treated unfairly by fans, media

| Sunday, June 25, 2006

It was most interesting reading the Chicago Sun-Times sports letters from its fans over the Internet. Their opinions focused on the current feud between Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti.

Many printed comments condemned the reporting of Mariotti, while they defended the antics of Guillen. The letters revealed that there was unbending support for Ozzie leading up to the latest incident, without any concern for his questionable use of slurs (e.g. letters):

"Ozzie was defending his team, his city and his organization against the repeated bashing performed at the hands of Mariotti."

And more.

"I have a deep respect for Ozzie and his way of doing things, including his calling Mariotti any name he wants. He is entitled to voice his opinion, even if that opinion hurts someone's feeling."

These comments are fine if you afford Jay Mariotti the same courtesy of "a right to one's opinion," but, obviously, we're dealing with biased individuals here.

Here's the way it works, Chicago fans.

First, a journalist's job is to report stories, although you may not always agree with it. Even when a columnist is opinionated, if facts support a story, be they negative or complimentary, the column should be written.

What fans don't seem to understand is that journalists are not, or should not be, homers. Unfortunately for writers, and rightfully so, fans are loyal to teams. But loyalty can be blinding when your team is criticized.

Sadly, too many in the Chicago media shy away from, or sugar-coat, stories that tend to otherwise infuriate team owners or players and, in too many cases, the fans.

So, some of the media in Chicago avoid the slings and arrows of potentially severe and harmful retaliation (personal attacks and threats) by the powers that are. Their vendetta is subtle and ongoing.

This is not speculation on my part, but is occurring as I write and has been for years concerning Jay Mariotti.

An incalculable number of fans are incapable of rationally speaking out about the current Guillen/Mariotti feud, as their busy lives disallow them to follow, or even remember, the numerous Ozzie incidents that have occurred frequently over a relatively short period of time.

Mariotti is not free from criticism, but those without a keen knowledge of the Ozzie show, who strike out against Jay, are in some cases unfair in their harsh judgment of him.

In the aforementioned, there is evidence that Ozzie's opinions, no matter how harsh, are acceptable. However, they fail to afford Mariotti the same courtesy.

Freedom of speech is a precious right afford by the First Amendment of the Constitution. It seems to me that Jay Mariotti's "freedom of speech" is violated here, when he is viciously attacked with slurs and innuendo, by one who becomes violent, when he, himself, becomes the subject of a person being out of control.

Jay has been a lone voice in the Chicago media for 15 years now. I believe in my heart that it's not always what Jay writes that infuriates some, including many in the Chicago media.

Jay's strength is his courage of conviction. Sadly, some in Chicago interpret this quality as audacious.

How do I know all this?

I'm Jay's father.

Geno Mariotti

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