So I as many people in this wonderful city of ours today was reminded that today, June 5th is the 32nd anniversary of the Portland Trail Blazers sole championship title, by one 95.5 the Game. This morning on my way to work I heard the first of many promo's that were devoted to a reunion of sorts, (by telephone) that John Canzano would be conducting as part of his 3 hour radio show dedicated to celebrating this illustrious anniversary. What a great thing I thought to myself. Until I heard the lineup. First off Lionel Hollins would make an appearance. As a member of the championship team it made sense. So far so good. Then the man responsible for bringing the city of Portland our first and only major league sports franchise, Harry Glickman would call in. Makes sense. Then Dave Twardzik would make an appearance. As both a player on the team and later in his career an assistant under Jack Ramsay this seemed to be appropriate. And of course this reunion wouldn't be complete without a call from the only coach to ever get this team to the top of the mountain Dr. Jack Ramsay would call in. Gotta love it. And then the roof caved in....
It was announced without much pomp and circumstance, quite matter of factly to be honest that the then mayor of Portland would be asked to talk about the atmosphere in the city during the championship celebrations. He would be asked to talk about what it was like to set up the parade through downtown. The former mayor of Portland that they were talking about was one Neil Goldschmidt. I thought to myself, "Really? Canzano is really going to ask Neil Goldschmidt about the atmosphere in Portland during the championship?" For those of you who are not familiar with Mr. Goldschmidt, he has been a public figure for most of his adult life. He has been involved in politics in Oregon since 1970 when he joined the Portland city counsil. In 1972 he was elected as mayor of Portland, at the time the youngest mayor ever of a major city in the U.S. He was also elected to Gubernatorial office in the 1980's. After holding the office for one term he decided not to run for re-election. He became a lobbyist, and is widely regarded as having the greatest influence of any figure in Oregon Politics. And one more thing, while holding the mayoral office back in the 1970's he had an illegal affair with a fourteen year old girl. The affair lasted for 3 years and included potential cover-ups by future sheriff of Multnomah County, Bernie Giusto. A figure who has been linked to all sorts of nefarious activities dating back to his time as a personal security officer for Neil Goldschmidt.
Now the point of this is not to drag these people through the mud. I am not trying to debase anyone's name or contribution to our city and our state. But given the fact that all of this is public record, and the fact that Neil Goldschmidt to the best of my knowledge has essentially gone into hiding, and has never granted an interview regarding his affair with an underage girl, I had to question the motives involved in bringing him into this otherwise celebratory discussion. My whole body shivered involuntarily when it was announced that HE would be on the show.
I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of John Canzano. I find a lot of his articles to be glib and self-serving, often times offering up more personal opinions and editorializing than sports. It seems that at times he will find a gossimer like thread between a sporting event and a personal interest story, and exploit it for everything it has to offer. What really offends me about this is it seems like he inserts himself into the story, and rather than being an observer he actively engages those involved in the story and tries to become a central figure. It's subtle but it's there. Often times he will speak of himself just wanting to do the right thing. He will talk about how he is lucky to be in a position to do something to help. Sometimes this can be a good thing. Opening people's eyes to a charitable event for instance. But in this case I have to question his motives. I thought, "How could he possibly have Neil Goldschmidt on and not ask about the his abusing this girl, and hiding it from the public for a period of over thirty years? Can he really be concerned only with what the championship was like?" . I would have to wait until 3 o'clock to find my answer.
At 3 o'clock his program started. He talked about how this was such a momentous occasion for our city and our team. He talked a little about how we are lucky to have a team that we can all be proud of, much like the team that won it all. He said we should all celebrate our sole major league franchise title, and how the way things are going maybe we won't have to wait too long until all of us get to experience this kind of event again, or for some of us for the first time. Then he talked about his lineup of guests. He talked about Hollins and Twardzik and Ramsay and Glickman. And then added "The one person who won't be joining us today....Neil Goldschmidt." He then proceeded to explain why Neil Goldschmidt would not be on the show. And then debate it for the next HOUR. This is during a 3 hour show. He said how Goldschmidt's people had requested that the former mayor and governor only be asked about the Blazers and not his personal life. And then he explained how it went against his journalistic integrity to not be allowed to ask any question of any guest that he wanted to. So he cancelled Neil Goldschmidt's interview. He then posited that it wouldn't be fair to himself or his listeners to have someone on with a sordid past, and not at least spend a little time addressing it. As if to say "The people deserve to know! And if your not willing to talk about your indescretions, then you should not be allowed to talk about a completely unrelated moment in our collective pasts!".
I don't have any problem with any journalist trying to ask Neil Goldschmidt about his past. I think maybe he should come clean. Already his public life has essentially been destroyed. He can talk about it or he can stay away I don't really care. The girl who he molested has suffered psychological and physical impairment. What he did was obviously wrong and it is also well known amongst the general public.
What I have a HUGE problem with is I think Canzano saw this as an opportunity to get a scoop. He once again used an unrelated story to further his standing as a journalist. Nobody can convince me that he had pure intentions by asking Goldschmidt to participate in this discussion. He then put up a text vote on the show asking if he was right to cancel the interview given the realization that he would not be given full and total access to the interviewee.
I think the celebration of this anniversary was soiled today when John Canzano's obvious plot to ask a shamed former public figure about his transgressions, was shot down. This became a story about his, (Canzano's) personal integrity, and the purity of pursuing the "Truth, the Bald Faced Truth." Instead of hearing the stories of the city being turned into one giant party, and the civic pride felt at the time, I was assaulted with this self-serving tripe! I have to say that I am still thoroughly disgusted.
I know a lot of people may say that I didn't have to listen. You're right. But I did want to hear about the good stuff, so I waited. It helped me forget about the first part of the show a little, but I have to say overall I still have a sense of loathing that instead of celebrating the day, I and many others around town were subjected to hearing about this horrible story again, a story that tells us once again that we cannot trust our elected leaders to live any more a pure and honorable life than the scumbag pervert down the street. Shame on you Canzano! You should not have our one and only major league team in with this terrible example of human behavior. And then you have the gall to act like you are the innocent one in this, to act like it was important to have Goldschmidt involved with the discussion. Guess what, he like many other fallen public figures has lost the right to be involved in ANY interviews until he is willing to discuss his lurid past! You would have done better by all of us to have never made an attempt to bring him into the discussion. I would have been happier if you would have said, "I thought about having the former mayor on, but decided I didn't want to get off topic from celebrating the championship with this obvious distraction!"
There is a time and place for everything, and I argue that a celebration of the 76-77 season is not a time to discuss this! Neil Goldschmidt never played for the Blazers. He never worked for the orginization. He was not a central figure in the team's run to the title. Yes he was there and he was part of the celebration, but for you to pass this off as an integral part of the story, and to elevate yourself by proclaiming your integrity, that was a mistake. Give the listeners a little credit, and take away a little from yourself. Put your ego aside and stick to the story, because for all of your talk about being proud of your baldness I saw today's broadcast as a giant journalistic hairpiece. And just like the really bad rugs that old men wear, that no longer match the color of their greying hair it's obvious to all of us!