My Twitter Feud with the New York Times

My Twitter Feud with the New York Times

By Kevin Faris

You have been blocked by user.  That’s what Pete Thamel, or more specifically Pete Thamel’s Twitter page, told me when I went and tried to follow him.  I noticed he was not showing up on my screen anymore and I thought something happened.  Well, something did happen.  I have entered into a Twitter feud with the lead National College Sports Reporter for the New York Times. 

How did this happen?  How did a local blogger and school teacher piss off a writer for the NYT?  Let’s provide the background.  I use my Twitter ( @KevinWFaris) to follow sports info, funny stuff, and local news.  Someone I follow recommended Pete Thamel, pictured here to the left, for college sports news.  I like college sports, so I followed him.  It was not too long after this that Mr. Thamel tweeted this message:

Wow. This is sad. RT @UKCoachCalipari: Do you guys have any idea how humbled I am when I ride down an escalator and people start cheering?5:44 PM Aug 29th from TweetDeck

For those who don’t speak Twitter, Mr. Thamel Re-tweeted a message from Coach Calipari about his reception at a book signing.  His reaction to this “Wow.  This is sad.”

Nobody messes with me, Coach Cal, or other UK fans.  What follows are the two replies I sent him:

@PeteThamelNYT What’s sad is that someone who is paid to write about college sports looks down his nose at fans who make his job possible.6:07 PM Aug 29th from TwitterFon in reply to PeteThamelNYT

@PeteThamelNYT What is sad? A humbled coach? Excited fans? If you have this level of disdain I’m sure the NYT can find you a new beat.6:34 PM Aug 29th from TwitterFon in reply to PeteThamelNYT

As you can tell, I was fired up.  Because I am not the most well known UK fan out there I sent a Tweet to Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio.  I thought he would also be upset at the disrespect shown toward UK fans and our coach.  Here is the Tweet I sent Matt.

@KySportsRadio Check out @PeteThamelNYT. Too long to RT. He’s a douche.6:36 PM Aug 29th from TwitterFon

Now, since I included @PeteThamelNYT in the Tweet, he probably saw me call him a douche.  In my defense, I thought what he did was pretty douchey, so in retrospect I should have called his actions douchey without calling him a douche.  I apologize. 

Matt Jones sent Pete a few messages and as far as I know received no reply.  Or at least one he made public on his website.  I never received any sort of reply or acknowledgement of my reply.  However, I was still upset.  So, when he Tweeted about the University of Michigan football team, I replied with this Tweet:

@PeteThamelNYT Over 100,00 fans will be at all UM home games. Is this sad? Just trying to get a feel for type of fan acceptable for you11:00 AM Aug 30th from web in reply to PeteThamelNYT

If a few hundred UK fans cheering a coach at a book signing is sad, I would imagine he would find 100,000 fans cheering a team even more sad.  Alas, I never heard back from him.  A few days later he Re-tweeted some news from Indiana’s Tom Crean about a player being cleared to play.  I replied:

@PeteThamelNYT I’m sure this is exciting for IU fans and coaches. Is that sad?11:34 AM Aug 31st from web in reply to PeteThamelNYT

The last Tweet I sent Pete was one I thought would help to close the gap between us, or at the very least get him to respond to my previous Tweets.  He was mocking ESPN for calling The Dave Matthews Band edgy.  I replied:

@PeteThamelNYT Now this is sad! Not fans, enthusiasm, or people who are excited the author arrived to a book signing. DMB edgy? Sad.4:10 PM Sep 1st from web in reply to PeteThamelNYT

So there you go.  Two replies to his original insult of the UK Coach and Fans, two replies pointing out other examples of enthusiasm or excitement, and one agreeing with him about DMB.  I was not replying to every Tweet and aside from calling him a douche when Tweeting to Matt Jones, nothing out of bounds.  Yet, he blocked me. 

A few points about this:

1.  Newspapers are falling off in circulation and sports fans particularly are turning to other media for information about their teams.  The condescending attitude Pete Thamel showed in his Tweet about UK fans is a great example of why.  He obviously considers those of us who are hardcore college sports fans beneath him.  He has no appreciation for the excitement and enthusiasm that a new coach can bring to a storied program that craves it.  Why would anyone turn to someone like this for sports coverage?

2.  Why would you go on Twitter and then block someone who disagrees with you or calls you out?  Twitter is a “social network” which means there is give and take.  I did not harrass him nor did I, in my opinion, do anything over the line.  If he had replied to me, and not just blocked me, perhaps we could have had an interesting dialogue.  Instead, he has just shown that the disrespect he has for the fans of the sport he covers carries over to those who follow him on Twitter.

I sent Pete an email today and if he replies I will post it here.  I doubt he will.