By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
"This had nothing to do with them wanting to see a player versus Ro," Cuban says. "How many would know Antoine Rigadeau, or what if a Dallas Burn player was used? That would have fulfilled the obligation the program had to them. The program was organized and managed by UNICEF. We presented Ro because he is a great speaker, relates well to kids, fully understands what UNICEF is about. When we heard the school didn't like that choice, we referred them to the program administrator at UNICEF. When they didn't like what they heard there, they went to the media...This smells of media blackmail, and KXAS used the kids as pawns to make a story out of nothing."
As much as I like bashing Channel 5--see paragraphs one through 10--I almost feel for them in this case. They did think it was a story. I disagree, but I understand. Brian Curtis and his executive producer, Shannon Harris, spoke to me at length about why they thought this was a legitimate piece, how parents and administrators and kids were upset and how Channel 5 isn't responsible for Cuban overreacting and looking like an ass in his e-mail, which is true. Meanwhile, Hillcrest Academy's Hauben said she thought it was no longer an issue. She claimed ignorance when I said that the official literature from UNICEF also said it could be a Burn player who visited. "I don't have that in front of me," she said. They all claim that students and teachers e-mailed Cuban dozens of times but never got a response until Channel 5 e-mailed.
Sorry, don't buy it. No one is more accessible than Cuban via e-mail. And part of being a good news organization is detecting when you're being used to settle some petty bitch, and I think Channel 5 was used.
Cuban, for his part, has rescheduled the appearance and will send a current Mavs player in April. "KXAS and other media are not invited," he says. At the risk of sounding like a huge Cuban apologist, can you blame him?
As for the kids who were supposedly upset: Sometimes you gotta tell 'em you don't get everything you want just because you complain. You get it if you go on TV and complain.