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Thread: US commentators

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    US commentators

    This is my first post on this forum and I am sorry if this was already discussed, but I did't see Tanith Belbin among the US commentators. Is this true? if so, why was she not included? By far she is the most interesting and informative dance commentator I know, she has also an incredible charm and charisma, and I simply don't understand the decision. Does anybody know any background to this story? I know she was hoping to go there. Who is going to comment the dance? I hope it's not Hamilton, not even mention Hammond...

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    I thought she was on the list for Universal Sports?

    My guess as to why not is they may feel it's a conflict of interest considering who she's connected with (Charlie White). She's good at disclosing and trying to stay as neutral as possible, but I wouldn't want to have to be neutral on the nights he's competing at the Olys if I was her.

    I'm just trying to figure out how they expect to use all the voices they have for the team... I really hope it's not like it was in 2006 where they pack them in. Too many voices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CezarMart View Post
    This is my first post on this forum and I am sorry if this was already discussed, but I did't see Tanith Belbin among the US commentators. Is this true? if so, why was she not included? By far she is the most interesting and informative dance commentator I know, she has also an incredible charm and charisma, and I simply don't understand the decision. Does anybody know any background to this story? I know she was hoping to go there. Who is going to comment the dance? I hope it's not Hamilton, not even mention Hammond...
    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    I thought she was on the list for Universal Sports?

    My guess as to why not is they may feel it's a conflict of interest considering who she's connected with (Charlie White). She's good at disclosing and trying to stay as neutral as possible, but I wouldn't want to have to be neutral on the nights he's competing at the Olys if I was her.

    I'm just trying to figure out how they expect to use all the voices they have for the team... I really hope it's not like it was in 2006 where they pack them in. Too many voices.
    Belbin will be working for the NBC family (but not the broadcast network) in another capacity. AFAIK, she will not be commenting on ice dance. (And I wholeheartedly agree that she should absolutely not be commenting on ice dance b/c of her conflict of interest.)

    Belbin's NBC role was announced months ago -- in Sep or Oct. It was in the same press release as the announcement of Weir's and Lipinski's roles as analysts -- and the press release link is in one or more GS threads about Weir and Lipinski.

    Regarding the large number of NBC voices:
    Not sure whether it has gone under the radar that NBC more recently added Kerrigan as another Sochi analyst. I posted about it in the Kerrigan/Harding documentary thread.
    Although NBC did not acknowledge a quid pro quo that Kerrigan is being given the on-air role and in turn is giving NBC an exclusive interview re the Kerrigan/Harding troubles of the past, doesn't take a genius to notice the connection.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    yeah I remembered Kerrigan being named...

    too many voices! too, too many!

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    Why is being connected to Charlie an argument against her commenting the dance? Because she will be bias? As a matter of fact, I do expect the US commenators to be bias towards the US team. Am I right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CezarMart View Post
    Why is being connected to Charlie an argument against her commenting the dance? Because she will be bias? As a matter of fact, I do expect the US commenators to be bias towards the US team. Am I right?
    Going back to your original question about Belbin, the link to the press release about her NBC role in Sochi is in this post:

    A subtitle of the Oct 23 press release is:
    Belbin to Report for NBC Olympics’ Sports Desk & The Olympic Zone

    I think the good news for Belbin is that she will gain additional on-air experience unrelated to skating. (I believe that she had a similar role in NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics in London.)

    As for her conflict of interest re ice dance:
    White is not just any ol' member of Team USA. The rivalry of Virtue/Moir (of Canada, obviously) and Davis/White is one of skating's most epic -- and will be a major story line in Sochi, at least for those watching skating.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Yes NBC will be PRO USA, which is understandable. However, it's considered "bad journalism" to at the very least not disclose one's relationship to the subject.

    Besides D/W are not the only US couple going to be competing. Not that they will be in danger of losing to the other two teams, but still...

    And it could very well be that Tanith would rather be there to support Charlie and NOT commentate that moment.

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    Rinkside
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    I don't get her being involved with Charlie White impacting her ability to commentate fairly - it's not like she's deciding who gets a defense contract! And if you've listened to her expert - and I mean expert - commentary on Universal Sports you would know that she has already publicly disclosed her relationship. People do this all the time. I recall a recent incident where a commentator coached or choreographed a skater that was competing. And just because their relationship is public, do you think it's the only one? I'm sorry, I'd rather hear Tanith Belbin squeal with glee when he wins than any of the dried up old folks they have in the booth today!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ray94611 View Post
    I don't get her being involved with Charlie White impacting her ability to commentate fairly - it's not like she's deciding who gets a defense contract! And if you've listened to her expert - and I mean expert - commentary on Universal Sports you would know that she has already publicly disclosed her relationship. People do this all the time. I recall a recent incident where a commentator coached or choreographed a skater that was competing. And just because their relationship is public, do you think it's the only one? I'm sorry, I'd rather hear Tanith Belbin squeal with glee when he wins than any of the dried up old folks they have in the booth today!
    I have said it before, and I will say it again. Belbin and White have the most intimate human relationship of any kind.
    A longtime coach and/or choreographer might feel a strong personal bond to her/his skater, but it simply does not rise to the level of the one btwn Belbin and White. If Belbin and White are like any other committed and loyal couple, they share certain thoughts and confidences btwn themselves that literally no one else on the planet could know.

    I do not think that Belbin goes out of her way to be unfair, but here is a (paraphrased) example of her unintentionally biased (IMHO) commentary from a previous season:
    She said something like, "When Tessa and Scott skate their program, they create a moment between themselves." That might have seemed like a neutral comment, UNTIL she immediately added in a much more approving tone of voice, "Meryl and Charlie's program is far more accessible to the audience." (She was referring to Die Fledermaus, IIRC.)
    Now it is possible that some people in the audience would have agreed with Belbin. But some would NOT have agreed. I did not.

    How the heck could Belbin -- no matter how hard she tries -- be in a position to make an objective judgment whether Charlie's program is "far more accessible," for crying out loud???
    Charlie had been living and breathing the program day after day since it was choreographed, and because Belbin lives with him, she too had been living with the program basically every single day. She is only human -- and I do not think any human being in her shoes could have transcended her close attachment to the program and said those words with true objectivity.

    I have not seen Belbin's ice dance commentary for a couple of years. But when I used to have access to Universal Sports and could see her occasionally on that channel, the producers would bury the disclosure of her relationship with Charlie White as much as possible -- if it was even mentioned at all. Instead of having an on-air colleague say in a forthright and professional manner something like, "We should note up front that you have a personal relationship with Charlie White," the anchor next to her would weave an indirect mention into a joking reference, such as: "You'll have to get Charlie White's two cents when you see him at home .. ha, ha, ha."
    Plus ... sometimes an entire block of ice dance coverage would go by with NO mention, direct or otherwise, of the Belbin/White relationship. If she and her employers have done a better job lately of providing disclosures consistently and openly, that is good news.

    After Charlie White retires, Belbin's ice dance commentary will become a lot more credible to me. Until then, I prefer my analysts to come with as little conflict of interest as possible. YMMV.
    In hard-news journalism, spouses and life partners whose specialized knowledge of a certain field is rare (as is Belbin's) RECUSE themselves all the time.

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    ^ I have absolutely no problem with Belbin's "conflict of interest". I want the commentator to be very knowledgeable, informative, speak the right amount, not too much, not too little and be very interesting. Other than that I don't care if she's all over Charlie. I am fine with that. It even adds some interesting flavor to her commentary and I like it.
    I don't want any boring, unbiased, impartial and unemotional commentator. That's the worst kind.

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    Outdated Old Dinosaur
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    I'd take an on-the-record biased Tanith over Scott Hamilton any day.

    Particularly concerning dance commentary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TontoK View Post
    I'd take an on-the-record biased Tanith over Scott Hamilton any day.
    I take anybody over Scott with his annoyingly excited tone and overly positive raptures.

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    Please forgive my ignorance... Haven't Tanith and Charlie been dating for quite some time now? I remember seeing interviews around Vancouver that they were dating and even living together. Again, please forgive me if I'm wrong.

    For me personally, when my husband is involved, I cannot be neutral. If my husband and I were ice dancers and he was competing at the Olympics and I was commentating, I still could not be neutral.

    I would rather have a biased Tanith commentating, for any skating discipline. I would take just about anybody over Scott and Sandra. During the Grand Prix, I was so happy to hear Johnny and Tara commentating. I was very sad when I watched Nationals to find Scott and Sandra in the commentators booth. To me, Scott and Sandra have always been grossly biased towards the Americans and of course their own personal favorites.

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    Speaking of Scott, I'd prefer even Sharapova commentating figure skating. She is going to Sochi with NBC.
    Seriously, who is going to do live event commentating? I thought it's going to be Tara and Johnny. Don't tell me it's Scott and Sandra....

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    Scott and Sandra have always been grossly biased towards the Americans
    Well, it's NBC - they promote US skaters, because it's a US network.

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