Sports

The State Flip Flops On Ron Morris

After being excoriated for his paper’s spineless kowtowing to University of South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier, publisher Henry Haitz III of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper has reversed his position on controversial columnist Ron Morris. After attempting to fire Morris last year – and removing him from the…

After being excoriated for his paper’s spineless kowtowing to University of South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier, publisher Henry Haitz III of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper has reversed his position on controversial columnist Ron Morris.

After attempting to fire Morris last year – and removing him from the Gamecock beat this season – The State now says Morris is free to write about Gamecock athletics if he wants.

“Ron Morris and other columnists at The State are free to pursue topics and stories as guided by their curiosity, their news judgment, their obligation to readers and our standards for quality journalism,” The State’s executive editor Mark Lett said in a statement. “No subject or individual is off limits for examination.”

Lett offers a curious explanation for taking Morris off of the Gamecock beat and replacing him with Glenn Snyder – a self-described “Super Fan” of Steve Spurrier (who recommended Snyder for the job).

“In recent months, we asked Ron to draw upon his considerable sports knowledge and experience to produce highly readable, relevant columns and enterprise features,” Lett wrote. “The work has been outstanding and has given sports fans much to enjoy and to think about. During this time, we asked Ron to focus first on coverage other than the USC football program.”

Sheesh …

The folks at Deadspin – the best sports site on the internet – were not impressed.

“All it took was the condemnation of an entire industry for publisher Henry Haitz to at least pretend he had some backbone,” they wrote.

Indeed …

How pathetic … and how embarrassing for the Palmetto State.

Ken Burger, the dean of South Carolina sports writers, had some potent observations regarding the situation.

“I was a sports writer for the Columbia newspapers in the 1970s when its controversial sports columnist, Herman Helms, received death threats because he wrote disapprovingly about coaches Paul Dietzel and Frank McGuire,” Burger wrote on his website. “Despite heavy and intense pressure from local fans and power brokers to get rid of Helms, the then-family-owned newspaper stood its ground and backed its columnist, who was right.”

Burger added The State was “a shadow of its former self.”

“This kowtowing to a football coach is just the latest in a slow slide to mediocrity that has been the newspaper’s fate under out-of-state ownership and decreasing revenue,” Burger concluded.

Exactly … of course kowtowing to powerful interests is nothing new for The State, as we pointed out in this column.

And while Morris may be back on the Gamecock beat (or at least allowed to write about Gamecock football), it’s painfully obvious that he does not have the support of his bosses.

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23 comments

Some dude September 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Will, you can’t get anything right. Statement was from editor Mark Lett. Check Deadspin.

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sweepin September 12, 2013 at 9:34 pm

“Eff the facts.” …….FITS News.

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Vanguard16 September 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm

No doubt we can count on the State Newspaper to report the facts!! LMAO!! Gamecocks now have a cheerleader, hand picked by Adolf Spurrier writing for you. Hope you’re happy!! Keep drinking the kool-aid!

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Bitter Mac September 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm

sluuuurp. yum. Sieg Heil.

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Beachtiger0412 September 12, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Look at how bad they suck up to Nikki Haley – do you expect anything less from a sports writer???

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35TWW September 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

If you somehow think the State “sucks up” to Nikki Haley, you must live in an alternative universe. The State has served as a virtual cheerleader for Dick Harpootlian and Sheheen ever since Haley was elected. I don’t particularly like her, but The State’s constant flogging of the dead horse “ethics” issue is all you need to see to know that the newspaper is hardly in her corner. They should go ahead and publish their endorsement of Sheheen.

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The State and Ron Morris Suck September 13, 2013 at 9:00 am

The mere fact that both of you believe opposite sides, is proof that spin and favoritism are often in the mind of the reader.
As for FITS comment that this is embarrassing for the Palmetto state, that’s a bit of a stretch.

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RobbieButt September 13, 2013 at 7:29 am

Anyone else think it’s time for a new publisher at the State? Henry Haitz III should be the one without the job.

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9" September 14, 2013 at 7:46 am

I like you.

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Darth Skeptic September 13, 2013 at 8:07 am

Who cares? Newspapers are on the way out anyway. All this looks like to me is a bunch of fighting about which dinosaur is best when there’s a meteor hurtling towards Earth.

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uh oh September 13, 2013 at 8:40 am

It seems this whole town is crooked. Rock on Ron!

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BillC123 September 13, 2013 at 8:44 am

The State is also going to Facebook only comments.

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what about September 13, 2013 at 10:02 am

Back in the days Burger refers to there was no competition for news. People had to shut-up and take it. Now they can go elsewhere to get sports coverage and they are…in droves.

It’s the same reason sites like this have grown. And yet, this site maintains that the public should just shut-up and take what the paper gives them? Because Morris is a journalist, he should not be subjected to the same market forces we all are?

If Morris had the numbers (read $) the paper would have told the coach to suck it in the first place. This is not about a reporter breaking a scandal and being fired for it. This is about a sports opinion writer without a paying audience.

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RHood2 September 13, 2013 at 10:13 am

Burger is another ass clown

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jimlewisowb September 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Hey Coach just wanted to let you know Ron Morris is on the sideline covering the game

Yes that’s right, said the AD gave him a press pass

For real Coach, you ain’t coming out to the field

Coach, our boys and Vandy’s boys have already done the coin toss, you gotta come on out

OK Coach I’ll tell him

How in the hell in front of 80,000 people am I going to tell a reporter that he is now the head coach and oh, by the way, fuck you and fuck the horse you rode in on

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demarke September 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm

In the shaky position of news print these days, it’s not a wise decision to support the personal vendetta’s of it’s writers at the cost of readers and advertisers. It seems that Fits believes Ron Morris can make wild accusations and make inflammatory comments about Spurrier and the team most people in the Midlands support; however, it is unacceptable for Spurrier to be critical in response. Apparently, we ought to give Ron Morris a freakin’ medal for his “courage” to write biased articles that reflect poorly on the majority of his readership (e.g. immediately writing that it was vindictive USC fans that vandalized the rock… good call Ron).

I wouldn’t have a problem if the paper and/or Ron disclosed his bias or portayed him as a counterpoint, but they don’t. We are supposed to assume his articles about Spurrier and USC come from a neutral or even supportive viewpoint, which is a dishonesty that I cannot support.

The paper should not be criticized for not “going down with a sinking ship” that is costing it money. (The Herman Helms days of print media monopoly are over, they have to realize in this era that people will get their news elsewhere if they are not responsive to their customers). Just because something is controversial doesn’t make it “fit to print.” The market doesn’t want Ron covering Gamecock athletics, the same way that the Greenville News would probably lose readers if they hired Glenn Snyder to cover Clemson.

Fits, if one of your writers started pumping out articles criticizing and lobbing baseless accusations at Tom Davis and Nancy Mace every week, how long would you be “courageous enough” to keep them on the payroll?

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uh oh September 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm

And you know for a fact that what Ron Morris wrote was not the truth? Think about it… Why is Spurrier so intent on getting rid of Ron?

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demarke September 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I know he was wrong about the Clemson vandal and no source backed him up on the poaching allegations for example. His articles in general took early opportunity to place negative spin.

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Scooter September 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm Reply
The Unknown Comic September 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

It’s a sad day for The State when Haitz doesn’t even have the balls to be a pussy.

He’s a double dipped pussy supreme being violated by a banana with a cherry on top.

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PAM September 13, 2013 at 6:36 pm

The State has abdicated its right to be an important part of this community. Excepting obituaries and local sports, why the heck would anyone read that paper?

I left it years ago and have not missed a beat.

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Raymond September 14, 2013 at 11:30 am

Only in the newsgathering business is giving the customers what they want considered spineless. “Just shut up and give us your money. We know what’s best. “

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Jethro September 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

Blame Obama for this, too.

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