Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Brill's Content Exposed the "Fuzzy Math" in GQ's Turn of the Century Men of the Year Awards

Brill's Content only existed from 1998-2001 but during that brief period the magazine fulfilled its mandate to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Some might consider it unwise to challenge those who buy ink--and/or bandwidth--by the barrel but Steven Brill and his capable staff never shied away from calling out the liars, the hypocrites and those who are just incompetent.

The February 2001 issue included an article by Kaja Perina titled "Men of the Year: GQ's Fuzzy Math." Perina noted that GQ declared to their readers, "Who said no one ever listens to you? We listen. So tell us: Who should be GQ's Men of the Year?" Perina wryly commented, "The answer appears to be whoever agrees to show up."

GQ's awards were presented on a show televised by the Fox network, so GQ preferred to give the honors to celebrities who agreed to participate in the telecast--regardless of how the reader voting actually turned out. Perina reported that an anonymous source with the L.A. Lakers said that when Phil Jackson was one of the Men of the Year in 1998 but declined to appear on the show the magazine gave him the honor in absentia--but when Jackson won again in 2000 and snubbed the telecast for a second time, GQ gave the award to Doc Rivers instead.

GQ spokeswoman Kathleen Madden admitted that the magazine not only elevated second place finisher Rivers ahead of the winner Jackson but that in the "Individual Athlete" category the runner-up Pete Sampras took home the hardware after the champion Tiger Woods declined to show up.

GQ editor Arthur Cooper did not see the problem with asking readers for their votes and then ignoring their choices: "You can't give an award to someone who doesn't want it. It's a nice award, but is it an Oscar? I'd like to think so, but I'm not fooling myself." Actually, you can give an award to someone even if the honoree declines to be on the TV show--and, as mentioned above, that is exactly what GQ did with Phil Jackson in 1998.

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