Danyelle Sargent talks about video bloopers
Pushing the envelope, always pushing, that's how it is in many facets of the media business. Get everything first, especially if it is embarassing or titillating and better yet if a TV host can mock a poor, hapless sideline reporter.
Which leads to Mike Francesa, more famous in the East because of a loudly opinionated radio show he used to co-host with Chris "Mad Dog" Russo. Francesa now hosts a sports television show in New York called "Mike'd Up."
Someone involved with "Mike'd Up" got his or her hands on a raw feed of an interview Fox Sports sideline reporter Danyelle Sargent did with San Francisco 49ers Coach Mike Singletary before last Sunday's game against Seattle -- Singletary's first as the team's head coach.
According to stories in the New York Times and Newsday, the unaired clip had Sargent saying to Singletary, "I hear that your mentor Bill Walsh was one of the first phone calls you made when you found out you had the job. What does it mean to you to be the head coach of the 49ers?"
Since most everybody, including Singletary -- but apparently not Sargent -- knew that Walsh died in 2007 this was obviously an embarrassing mistake. And it's one that was never supposed to be seen.
According to Dan Bell, Fox Sports' vice president of communications, the only video of the exchange was sent on what is called a "backhaul" feed.
In the newspaper business it would be akin to me shipping unedited copy from my computer to an editor in the L.A. Times office. The transmission from my computer is not meant to be intercepted and printed in papers around the world.
But the "backhaul" feed showing Sargent's interview was intercepted as it traveled from San Francisco to Fox editors in Los Angeles. The clip was posted on YouTube (it since was taken down) and Francesa aired it on his show.
Bell said the network and Sargent are "disappointed" that someone broke the industry protocol that prohibits competitors from airing video that was never aired by its rightful owner. Francesa said he didn't realize the clip had not been shown on national television, a claim Sargent doesn't quite believe.
Sargent has been working at Fox for two years, hosting a show called "The FSN Final Score" (it's on at 10:30 tonight on Fox Sports Net West). She is a Florida State graduate who, she said, "got my first job pulling cables. I'm not one of those women who just jumped onto network TV. I've paid my dues."
But this isn't Sargent's first brush with making an on-air mistake. She
provided a YouTube highlight when she was at ESPN and thought she was off-air while making a comment that included an obscenity.
Sargent brings up that moment herself: "That's how people know me. But that's not who I am."
The 49ers-Seahawks game was Sargent's first foray into sideline reporting. She says she was nervous and meant to ask Singletary about a conversation Singletary had with Walsh a few years ago when Singletary was considering getting into coaching.
"I knew immediately that I made a mistake," Sargent said. "I held up my hand to stop the interview. I was lucky Mike Singletary was so great. I asked him if he would stay and re-do the interview and he did."
Sargent said she also immediately apologized to her producer. "I had three more hours of football, that was embarrassing, and I did not want my producer to think I would be making mistakes all game."
Sargent said she didn't know the mistake had been aired until Monday morning when she received text messages from friends who said they'd "have my back." Sargent also said it should have been obvious to a veteran such as Francesa that the interview never aired.
"I held my hand up to the camera and stopped it," she said. "No way you could think that was aired. So I think there was some meanness involved. If I weren't a woman I don't think it would be such a big deal."
Francesa told New York media he was unaware that the clip didn't air and he and WNBC said they would apologize to Sargent. She said she hasn't received those apologies yet.
Sargent probably should have guessed after her first "oops" moment that mistakes on tape now tend to live forever, same as print. And it would be nice to think Francesa will look twice next time before stealing a video that wasn't his to air.
-- Diane Pucin
Editor's note: "Walsh" changed to "Singletary" in fifth paragraph at 6:30 p.m.
Photo: Danyelle Sargent. Credit: Fox Sports