Grant Cohn, Anthony Davis and job security

The word “blogger” is terrible, for reasons both auditory and symbolic. It’s a word that’s a little too easy to utter with a tinge of disgust, like if one were referring to a backed-up septic system. For many, the word has become synonymous with someone who thinks they have a voice that matters. However, that’s only because they’re hearing their own voice again and again, echoing off the basement walls … of a home they don’t even own.

It might even be easier than opening a pickle jar to become a blogger for a day or a month, but to gain mainstream acceptance as a blogger is exceedingly difficult. I won’t bore you with the details.

In the past, getting a plum job with the Press Democrat was even harder than becoming a blogger who lasts. Great writers came from that place. Michael Silver was there. Jeff Fletcher, too. Brian Murphy wrote for the PD, jumped to the Chronicle, went national and became a mainstay on KNBR. Matt Maiocco built the most loyal following of anyone who’s ever written online about the 49ers, and he did it from the PD’s little website (he was also there for over 10 years, breaking stories and engaging commenters — even those who disagreed with him). Eric Branch is one of the best feature writers in the entire Bay Area. I dare you to find a Branch piece where after reading it you said, “Welp, that was a waste of time.” He started at the Democrat as well.

Both Maiocco and Branch wrote the hell out of that little Press Democrat 49ers blog. When Branch moved on, that blog was bequeathed to Grant Cohn. Grant, son of Lowell.

This isn’t about judging Grant’s overall body of work on that blog. Many enjoy Lowell’s style, and Lowell personally. They believe they know him through his writing. Grant’s pieces are much like Lowell’s, both in terms of formula and third-person headlines. Those who enjoy Lowell also enjoy Grant, as well as the idea that the Cohn family has your best interests at heart as the newspaper-subscribing sports consumer. Many in recent weeks have told me how Grant’s early work showed “promise.”

In recent months, Grant has taken on his father’s persona in the worst possible way. When Lowell throws stones, at least there’s history to fall back on. All Grant has is Lowell and that Press Democrat blog made famous by Maiocco and Branch. He’s taken his platform and used it to write posts so nonsensical (the 49ers should trade for Tebow?), it was as if Grant was writing not what he actually believed, but what he believed would generate more pageviews. It was like the Democrat said, “Hey, Lowell’s kid writes in their basement and he’s cheap, let’s give him a try.”

Many were somehow tolerant of this style of writing (the kids call it “trolling”), because Grant’s only a blogger. Hey, what’s the harm? He’s not a “real” 49ers beat writer, is he? So what if he gives the pick of A.J. Jenkins an “F” grade in order to get the commenters riled up? Who cares if he compares players to children, dogs and interns?

It appeared that Grant was going to let everything go after Davis started the hashtag, as he stayed quiet on Saturday. On Sunday, Grant proved just how safe he feels at the Press Democrat, a paper that might as well rename itself the Santa Rosa Cohn Zone.

First, Grant wrote a couple blog posts where he held a “contest” for commenters to re-write the only line he thought caused any trouble from his Friday post: “Anthony Davis threw his hands up in the air and squealed like a child.” Because comparing Josh Johnson to a “spaniel” wasn’t condescending or anything.

He mentions Colin Kaepernick in the headlines of both posts, because Kaepernick retweeted one of Davis’ tweets (a photoshopped Candlestick Park Gate A that reads “THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS INVITE YOU TO #STOPCOHN”) and wrote “I’ll roll for the homie” in another (Grant: not “the homie”). Kaepernick may have been standing up for himself as much as Davis, as Grant made harsh judgments on Kaepernick’s accuracy during Thursday’s meaningless practice. In response to Kaepernick supporting his teammate’s anti-Cohn stance, Grant retweeted something Kaepernick wrote that was almost (but not really) incriminating.

Grant also took to Twitter on Mother’s Day and did what he appeared to do when he confronted Davis during Friday’s practice: bait, bait, and bait some more.

This next tweet looks familiar (to me, anyway). Friendly advice, helpful hint

To be fair to Grant, those tweets were in reponse to all the “#StopCohn” references and a variety of Davis tweets (since deleted) calling for the revocation of Grant’s press pass and the termination of his employment with the Press Democrat.

Grant has had plenty of time to talk with his father and formulate a plan for responding to Davis’ Twitter hijinks, but that strategy is making many wonder why the Press Democrat is letting these guys call the shots. At this point, maybe the Democrat’s through with being a feeder system for SF Gate, CSN and Yahoo — perhaps the plan is to roll with Team Cohn until the once-proud newspaper turns to figurative ash.

At around 7 pm on Sunday, Anthony Davis retweeted this:

This is a two-way street, and Davis has been hammering on the #StopCohn meme for three solid days. Without the 49ers’ right tackle pushing the issue, one of the most ridiculous Bay Area media stories in recent years would’ve fizzled. So why are so many people so angry with the Cohns? How did “#StopCohn” become a trending topic?

The Cohns would probably argue that we don’t know these players in the slightest (just like Cohn Zone readers don’t really know the Cohns), and the large group railing against Grant are “sheep” rendered powerless by the mentality of a mob. And to many in the media, it doesn’t matter how a man makes a name, as long as his name is mentioned.

Except Davis is hitting (repeatedly) on something writers and readers have been quietly saying in different corners of the interwebz for months, years. Even if Grant had an unfamiliar surname, his writing would’ve come into question. Strident views without logical backing only signal laziness, not courage. (The most important way to judge college wide receivers is yards per catch? Really?) Bite-sized morsels of high school imagery might get people to read and comment, but they don’t tell the story of Davis and his teammates. What investigative jewels have the Cohns unearthed and brought to the surface? Ted Ginn’s wearing white tights now? Evil Jim Harbaugh wasn’t all that concerned about whether or not his first round receiver walked across a stage in Champagne, Illinois? Is this family furthering the conversation or forcing players and coaches to put up walls unnecessarily?

Fans, players and readers deserve better. Bloggers deserve better. With the walls between players and athletes tumbling down 140 characters at a time, we need to reexamine how these groups communicate. Grant may think he “opened up a line of communication” with Davis. Instead, he’s closing the door on many bloggers from less fortunate bloodlines.

Published by

Bay Area Sports Guy

BASG (Steve Berman) and his wife started Bay Area Sports Guy in 2008, and now it's the No. 1 independent website covering Bay Area sports. You can follow him @BASportsGuy and on Facebook.

34 comments
AliceJo
AliceJo

I read the Cohn Zone for its tabloid slant and harpy style. I'd love to hear AD squeal. Wish Grant would have caught it on his hand held and we could listen to an mp3 stream.

Tiburon Dave
Tiburon Dave

Any of you guys old enough to remember when Jim Everett worked over Jim Rome on camera because Rome kept calling him Chrissie? Now Rome's a millionaire many times over and Jim Everett is likely washing cars someplace. Sports Journalism is as dead as my great Aunt Edna...it been replaced by...whatever this is...

FiveXSB9er
FiveXSB9er

Why is it that Matt Maiocco and Matt Barrows and Eric Branch get "49er Insider" information and Grant Cohn doesn't? They all have press passes. Barrows wrote a story about LMJ and his grandmother's influence. Branch calls and interviews Eddie D. Maiocco gets player info and writes about it. Grant goes to 4949 and insults the players. Why follow that? #StopCohn indeed.

Ted
Ted

Grant just showed me that he lacks journalistic integrity. I hate it when writers make themselves part of a story. Newsflash journalists, bloggers, message board posters and non-athlete tweeters, I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU OR YOUR PERSONAL OPINIONS.

formerKNBRemployee
formerKNBRemployee

Do you think the chick in Grant Cohn's twitter photo asked to be cropped out cause she knows he is worthless? Very, very sexy shoulder though.

Stan
Stan

I'm glad Grant created his own national fame...saves me from jumping off the Empire state building in the nude with a "read the Cohn's and BASG blogs banner" to get the media's attention.

formerKNBRemployee
formerKNBRemployee

If the 49ers stumble out of the gate- I'm going to blame it on Grant Cohn. This stupid display of "whose is bigger" (my money is on AD btw) is taking away focus from PLAYING FOOTBALL. They both need to shut the hell up. To steal a line from Gary "IF his name was Grant Smith- he probably wouldn't even be blogging". The apple doesn't fall to far from the tree and unfortunately for the Bay Area sports fan we now have 2 Cohns to give us crap writing and reporting. Christ. #BayAreaMediaTurnsToShit

Stan
Stan

...And when Alex Smith threw the ball..he squealed like a female Russian tennis star,then ran off the field like a bow legged young Jerry Lewis.

E
E

Lowell Cohn is a very biased person - hates sports and was run out by the Chronicle. He has a PHD from Stanford and has an admitted short-man complex. He is basically the stereotypical whinebag Woody Allen character. In his own words. http://lukeford.net/blog/?p=7228

BaySean
BaySean

All of this comes off as very juvenile, for both parties.

Rich
Rich

Great post, and excellent breakdown of the situation. I feel that the combination of Grant Cohn's weak writing abilities and his continuing antagonization of the 49ers players on this subject alone should be enough to have the Press Democrat re-assign him, if not completely terminate him. I'm all for his termination, quite frankly.

True
True

I was young once and no longer am. I was cocky, felt safe and felt that my opinion despite lack of experience or comprehensive knowledge of the subject....mattered. I have shot my mouth off and made myself look bad so I speak from experience here. Now would be a good time for Cohn the younger to issue a sincere Mea-Culpa followed by an extended period of STFU. ....unless his intent is to carve out for himself a "Skip Bayless" sort of niche in the Bay Area sports media market. In which case, sally-forth lad.

BD
BD

Both Cohn's are complete Douchebags. Anybody who is a 49ers fan knows what complete crap Lowell asks in post game pressers to the Coaches, seemingly to get a bite or rile them up. It stinks. This isn't reporting, this is old fashioned red top tabloid trash "reporting". Hey Cohn's, I don't care were Jim Harbaugh will watch the Super Bowl, I dont care how long it will take him to get over the defeat, talk football, or get out of the press room. Keep your trashy blogs and articles to yourself. The sooner people stop following these idiots on twitter, stop giving their website pages hits and stop buying the papers they write in, the better. Hits and Paper sales pays wages. Don't read, they don't get paid. It's not rocket science. Our papers here in England mainly stink. It's all gutter press and it's all about trying to sell copies by stitching people up or trying to get the scoop of some dirty story. The Cohns are trying to be Piers Morgan, and everybody knows what a great big **** he is. Stop reading the Cohn's and you don't let them get to you. #stopcohns

Stan
Stan

Who's Anthony Davis???..If he cant take it,retire himself. Freedom of the press more then covers Grant Cohn's right to write. And a razzberry to the 49ers org for not commenting. Typical of them since Harbaugh came in..if your not an enemy-they do their best to make you one!

Gooselosgatos
Gooselosgatos

All one has to do to find Grant's style of journalism if you wish to call it that, is watch Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. They will take an side of an issue regardless of the integrity of their POV. Frankly, Radnich's morning show isn't far behind. Ever noticed how he and Krueger are always on an opposite sides of any issue. There are times when Gary is refreshingly candid and others when he will toss out any POV that will get the phones ringing. And lest me not forget DBruce. The other day when Fitzgerald and Brooks became intolerable I turns to 1050 and literally heard DBruce describe himself as "the most honest sports media member in the Bay Area" when he is known in the business as being one of if not the most inauthentic. Note, anyone who has to tell you how honest they are is almost assuredly the exact opposite and rather a very cagey marketer instead.

devnull
devnull

Whether it's tweeting, blogging, or "old fashioned" paper printing: bad writing is still bad writing. The Cohns are only as significant as their readers allow them to be. I prefer to not be one of them.

Ron
Ron

Tweets are a waste of paper too! Not worth the paper they're written on. (and Radnich is a waste of space)

Otis Byrd III
Otis Byrd III

As far as the whole bloggers vs. players thing goes, it's kind of dumb if you think about it. Sports bloggers, sports talk radio show hosts, sports columnists, and other sports media, are trying to get people to read what they put on their blogs or on their Twitter page so that they can get more people to read their stuff, listen to them on air if they are on KNBR or 95.7, and to possibly get more followers on Twitter. Players should understand this, and not get so worked up over it. However, at the same time, from a players standpoint, I can see how players can get upset over bloggers, sports radio talk show hosts, sports columnists, and other sports media because the media might try to misrepresent them, or make them out to look bad, and then their fans might lose respect for that player, all over what someone wrote in a column or a blog or what they said on air, that might not be true. It's kind of risky business. It's almost like, what are you willing to do or how low are you willing to stoop yourself as a sports media person to put yourself out there and make a name for yourself? Players nowadays seem more sensitive though. Almost every little thing seems to bother them. Last week, Damon Bruce had a joke about Anthony Davis on Twitter, and Anthony Davis was pissed about it, and he wondered how Damon got a radio show.... This was all over just a joke. LOL. But yeah, players should understand what the sports media is trying to do, and not take them as seriously, but at the same time, you can see where the anger from players toward some sports media, comes from. As far as Grant Cohn goes, he needs to knock it off, before he does get fired, and/or gets attacked by Anthony Davis or another 49ers player. Even Damon didn't want to pick a verbal fight over Anthony Davis, and I don't blame him. As far as Cohn goes, yes, he was right that Davis is basically helping out his career and that Davis shouldn't let Cohn get under his skin but, he needs to knock it off before things really get sour. Davis basically wants him fired for goodness sakes. LOL. That was probably taking it a little too far, but Cohn needs to knock it off. Has Grant Cohn really talked to his father Lowell Cohn about this. I wonder how are their conversations like. LOL.

Paperback Writer
Paperback Writer

Whatever you think of Radnich - you have to agree with him on this sh*t - twitter "wars" are a waste of time and this space. Raddy's right!

adrian reynolds
adrian reynolds

Solution: strap Grant Cohn to a tackling sled and let AD have a go, just one time...

Butcherboy415
Butcherboy415

Wow incredible breakdown... I totally agree...