MSM Twitter Fight?

September 19th, 2011 | by torontosportsmedia

Fascinating the things you miss on Twitter while sitting on an airplane. Yesterday, Damien Cox and former MSMer Sean McCormick went at it Twitter style.

A little background. Just after the Wade Belak death, PJ Stock went on the record as saying that there was much more to Belak’s death that would eventually come out. Damien has called Stock out for not saying anything more about it. Yesterday, Sean McCormick took to twitter to call Damien out on it. Damien responded. Here is the back and forth:

McCormick : @damospin owes PJ Stock a public apology for calling PJ out in his column 2 wks ago. Is this enough for you now cox?

Cox: @Sean_McCormick Apology for still not xplaining himself? Best for u to stay away from public arguments, pal. Requires 2 much brainpower.

McCormick: @DamoSpin ya, failed like you did at growing hair. Do the right thing and apologize to stock. U knew the facts and ripped him anyway

Cox: @Sean_McCormick Seriously? Bald jokes? Son, you’re embarrassing yourself more than usual. If PJ has a problem, he can speak to me himself.

McCormick: @DamoSpin Hope the cameras are rolling when he does

Here’s my 2 cents. When Stock went public with his comment, given the subject matter, I think he has an obligation to explain. When I heard the comments I wondered what the hell he meant. If you read Dave Feschuk’s column on Belak that McCormick listed in his tweet, it says the family considers the death an accident.

“For all intents and purposes, he did not do it on purpose. It was accidental,” said Lorraine. “That’s a good way of putting it: Accidental. Because I know he wouldn’t have done that on purpose. Nothing makes any sense.”

Said Barry: “Lorraine and I and the family are treating it as an accident. So be it. We knew him best . . . He had too much to live for.””

So I am not a dr. and well, I never really did all that well in school, but, and I am trying not to be insensitive here, but I don’t know what one expects when one places a rope or some other type of device around their neck. So if Stock or anyone else can explain how his death is accidental then wouldn’t you want to know?

I know, it’s a personal matter. When Stock went public, when the family says what they say above, doesn’t that change things?

I don’t know what set McCormick off, but it certainly makes for interesting fodder doesn’t it.

Although I can’t confirm what exactly she’ll be doing I can tell you that both SI and others are saying that Hazel Mae will be back on Sportsnet. More details when they become available.

I get that the audience for LeafsTv is marginal. However, perhaps it’s so because the talent on the network is equal to that which you would expect to find on SCTV, minus the comedy factor. How can someone be expected to watch when Bob McGill is doing color? Seriously, he is BRUTAL. He may be a nice guy but come on this is Toronto and this is hockey. We deserve better than this. Non traditional hockey markets do better than this.

Thanks to reader Rob for pointing out the twitter fight



  1. RT74 says:

    Autoerotic Asphyxiation – you can google it. It sounds crazy but it’s actually a practice that is more common than people think. It results in thousands of accidental deaths in the US a year

  2. alex says:

    So, reading between the lines, are people saying this was a michael hutchence situation?

  3. Dave in Bolton says:

    Cox is a douche im still pissed the way he left TSN at the alter and joined Sportsnet. he will regret it when his contract is up no way TSN offers him anything

    this may be off topic but TSM if im not correct was the Scoce network not for sale a while back? what happened to tha????

  4. Mike S says:

    Is there anyone in the media that Damien hasn’t had a catfight with?……………Simmons, Dowbiggin, McCormick……………he even got into it with a guy (Griffin) from his own newspaper, didn’t he??

  5. Busyfists says:

    I think they’re implying that he was beating off while choking himself. Like David Carridine.

  6. Another Steve says:

    I think that McCormick is still upset that he lost the election last year and is desperate to appear relevant.

    Apparently his platform of “I’m concerned about money” didn’t really take off in an environment among voters who actually wanted substance. I remember hearing him on the radio a few times during the election and he literally didn’t have any specifics. Every one of us is concerned about spending, but the real questions revolve around what you plan to do about changing things, not whether you appeared on TV and called yourself “the dude.”

    Cox does not try to present himself as likeable. However, we should always remember that just because someone is not so likeable doesn’t mean that he/she can’t be right. A lot of evidence suggests that Belak died while trying to achieve a spectacular orgasm, which makes it really less than the tragedy that people want to believe his death to be, and it certainly would have nothing to do with the theme of depression, a cause that some are trying to turn his death toward.

    In a really macabre way, his death reminds me of the film Heathers, where people use the deaths of others for their own political agendas.

  7. This battle of Mr. Irrelevants is neither interesting nor humorous, but does prompt a couple of thoughts:

    1. Why has the MSM avoided this angle of Wade Belak’s unfortunate death? Seems likely that it simply doesn’t fit neatly into their “enforcer-depression-death” political storylines/opinions.

    2. What prompts Damien Cox to continually engage in these useless no-win spats? Does nothing to promote a higher discussion and propagates the prevailing view that Cox is thin-skinned and lacks in any real sport knowledge. Unfortunately, this comes across on his appearances on PTS, making it impossible that I tune in when he is on.

  8. Steve-O says:

    There was one more comment in which Cox said that McCormick failed at sports as well as politics.

    He also referred to McCormick as “a lightweight”

    Couple of guys with sizeable ego’s, going at it. I’m stunned at how unlikeable Cox presents himself as.

  9. mike (in boston) says:

    Twitter functions as a truth serum for assholes. For some reason, some people just can’t help revealing their true selves.

    One wonders where all this anger comes from with Cox. If he’s like this with people on the internet can you imagine what he’s like at home? I can’t help but feel bad for his family. Also, at what point does the Star need to worry about their brand?

    On another matter, i routinely skip the non-interview segments of PTS, but the other day i listened to a Bob + Brunt segment from Friday’s 5pm hour. They literally spent time on-air looking up a website and talking about the pictures they saw. It was spectacularly bad radio. Bob’s contempt for his radio audience is growing.

  10. Roger says:

    I think most of us can agree that Cox is just that, a “cox”. However, he does have a point here and McCormick’s bald head comment was unoriginal and stupid.

  11. I personally don’t give a crap if 2 relative nobody’s have a pansy ass purse fight over Twitter…but really, Twitter? are they suddenly all 12 year olds??

    Sadly, all the signs and unsaid words indicate Wade Belak died of the same way Hutchence/Carridene did, “death by misadventure” the coroner sometimes calls it.

    The MSM hush is to prevent further embarassment to his familty, and they deserve that. He didn’t live here and didn’t play here recently. It’s time for his family to have peace and a chance to face their grief without this out there.

  12. Steve from Waterloo says:

    This seems like the right place to ask this question.

    What is the role of the media in a situation such as the Belak scenario?

    It was first reported by the media as a suicide. Then another media source (PJ Stock) alludes to something, but doesn’t say what it is. Now no media source will state one thing or another, and the entire situation is left in ambiguity.

    Is it not the media’s role to report the facts? Just the facts…nothing but the facts? Are they insensitive for calling a spade a spade, or is it the media’s job to report the facts?

    I find this entire situation, including the bickering between media sources as somewhat inappropriate.

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  14. Stever Rogers says:

    Seems to me Cox was just responding to McCormicks taunt. Which is just a plea for attention from a guy who has disappeared from sight. As for Cox I like the guy, he has balls and says what he wants. Funny how people want the media types to be devoid of personality, when it is their opinion that gets them their jobs.

    On the Leafs TV front can’t agree more. I will also add, who is doing production? They have more audio and video dropouts than you can shake a stick at. I can’t imagine their equipment is that bad, but what ever it is it’s pure amateur hour.

    If they do make some upgrades maybe they could consider also changing the on air crew. I can not take much more of Bowen screaming into the mike or Millens homer colour commentary. Every successful pass is proof that a career AHL’er belongs in the HHoF.

  15. Beans says:

    Mike nailed it…Twitter indeed functions as a truth serum for assholes…i wouldn’t waste my time with Twitter.

    MLSE and Leafs TV are over the top bad. From the horrid Bob McGill & Greg Millen to Dan Dunleavy now in Foster Hewitts chair they are all un-listenable boot licking MLSE hacks.

  16. Chris F. says:

    I agree with Roger, Cox is an A-hole it seems but he has a point in what he says besides, a catfight between these two is nothing to write home about.

    It does seem like the MSN is very mum on this other aspect of Belak’s death and one wonders if there really is more to it. If that is the case than Stock should’ve kept his mouth shut or revealed such information at a later date rather than shooting his mouth off.

    I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure what happened but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a David Carradine type thing.

  17. Chemmy says:

    I think the media has avoided the Wade Belak potential autoerotic asphyxiation angle not to fit their enforcer agenda but because Wade Belak was a great interview and apparently a funny guy to be around.

    Nobody wants to drag him through the mud for that. It’s an awful story. Heartbreaking.

  18. Smack says:

    Cox may be a dickhead, shit disturber and painfully contrarian on PTS (sometimes) but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong all the time. And he’s certainly got a point here.

    What prompted McCormick to dig this up anyway? And bald jokes? Please. McCormick looks weak in this exchange.

  19. Walter Bishop says:

    First I don’t buy “none of your business” or “we should have more respect for grieving family, allow them to grieve in peace and stop speculation”. Belak was a Maple Leaf and loved by fans, we are going to talk about his death regardless. Human nature we talk about celebrities untimely death all the time. Why should we pretend we dont for the sake of X, Y, and Z. It is really better for family when people talk about the recently departed behind their backs? I believe it is better to clear the air with facts and information, no color coating.
    I’m not quite sure why death by suicide is less embarrassing than by, pure speculation & for example purposes only, alleged/rumour/fiction auto-erotic asphyxiation. This has become a relevant & dangerous activity in this century. Once we get over the immature initial reaction we have an obligation to inform those that partake in such activity the life threatening dangers. If Wade died in this manner there is no shame. No talking about it will just fuel more rumors, how does that serve the family?
    Suicide does not make sense here. Wade had so much to live for in wife+children+broadcast career starting+battle of the blades+home renovation+extended family. His step father said Wade rented ice time in local hockey rink for battle of the blades. Yes we don’t know everything about depression, but it sounded like at most he had a from of mild depression. Plus there was no suicide note. This does not make sense. Again no shame in the facts. I don’t see how family better served with alleged suicide vs something else.
    Let the truth set us free.

  20. RT74 says:

    Totally agree with everything Walter Bishop wrote. A suicide doesn’t make any sense, a suicidal man does not go out to party with his friends the previous night, tweet jokes and then proceed to text people to make appointments for the next day and week and then offs himself right after. We all know how much he loved his wife and two daughters, there is no way he wouldn’t have left a note. His depression seemed greatly exaggerated by the media in an effort to explain what happened b/c nothing made sense. I doubt we’ll ever find out the truth, the media is treating Belak’s death very differently from others b/c he was such a well liked guy and many reporters/writers were his friend. They’re not going to print anything that would potentially embarass him. You think the reporting would be different if this was someone a little less likeable like Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen? You bet. There would be no sugar coating.

  21. RT74 says:

    BTW, I followed the Twitter fight and you missed a couple more insults in your post that make the bald comment seem very random 🙂

    McCormick: @DamoSpin only if u stay away from arguements that require objectivity, for which u have none.

    Cox: @Sean_McCormick Son, you’ve failed as a broadcaster and as a politician. Public discourse just ain’t your thing. Away you go.

    McCormick: @DamoSpin ya, failed like you did at growing hair. Do the right thing and apologize to stock. U knew the facts and ripped him anyway

  22. Basshat says:

    Amazing to see how the anti-Cox bias colours views of this exchange. McCormick initiated the argument and Cox quickly put him in his place. McCormick then responded (and continues to respond with) juvenile hair jokes. How anyone can blame Cox on this one is beyond me. If you hate the man’s opinions, so be it, but any sense of objectivity puts the blame for this exchange squarely on the shoulders of McCormick.

  23. Don Mandrie says:

    Did McCormick mention Cox’s premature killing off of Pat Burns? Or was that too easy? Cox seems like he’s ready to boil over at any moment. But one liners about somebody being bald is kind of pathetic. Surely Mccormick can be more creative than that. Or maybe not.

  24. Beans says:

    One day this punk McCormick will be bald too.

  25. Gerry (Burlington) says:

    PJ Stock knew from the get go that Belak did not commit suicide. In his rush to defend Belak from committing suicide, he opened up a potentially embarrassing or difficult to explain cause of death. Given PJ chose to publicize via Twitter that there was much more to the story, I think Damien is correct in saying essentially, “hey you opened the can tell us about the rest now?”.

    I have no use for either McCormick or Cox, and think they should both be embarrassed for having a cat fight on a public forum. Makes them both look bad.

    Is it a Cogeco thing, or why are the Leaf Preseason games not on in HD? I can’t watch hockey on the non HD channels which so far both Leaf Games have not been broadcast in HD in the Cogeco/Burlington region.

  26. Gerry, with all due respect, you’re wrong, we don’t know what Stock knew, and unless he has golden connections inside the police or coroner’s office, he was speculating, either to make himself look connected or in some kind of defense of another former player.

    If he had just shut the hell up and let it go, this would be gone, but he chose to get smart, either to look informed, or to defend the Belak legacy. Now its still a story, a small one, but enough to keep this thread alive days later.

    Cox might be an ass, but he’s right on here and Stock is the problem. I doubt his bosses at CBC would like staff passing rumor around as fact on public airwaves.

  27. RT74 says:

    Gerry, PJ didn’t post that on Twitter, he doesn’t even have a twitter account. However, CBC sports writer, Mark Seidel posted similar comments on his twitter page, why isn’t anyone jumping on him demanding him to elaborate? And why would we want to them to elaborate? We can all read b/w the lines. We know that he was found hanging so that wasn’t news. If it was an accident, we can use our imagination and put two and two together. How graphic do you want him to get? If he did elaborate, people would be up in arms about that too.

    With the details of the death still murky, stating that it was a 100% depression based suicide and editorializing on that premise is irresponsible journalism and pure speculation too. Are all the writers, including Cox, going to print retractions on all their articles if it turns out to be an accident? Doubt it.

    And Mike, I don’t think it’s b/c of Stock that this is still a story. Everyone was thinking AEA when we first heard of Belak’s unexpected death. Well, everyone I know was b/c it just didn’t make any sense, there was sooooo much speculation by the fans on various forums/boards before Stock even said anything. And the reason why it’s still a story is b/c Wade’s parents spoke to the Toronto Star this past weekend and were adamant that Wade’s death was an accident. I’m more inclined to believe what his family says b/c I’m sure they have spoken to the police at length and know way more about the circumstances of his death than any of the media or sports writers would know.

  28. Gerry (Burlington) says:

    RT74, I am sorry you are absolutely right, PJ Stock did not tweet. He instead told a Montreal Reporter. My point is that PJ Stock made himself part of the story, by essentially reporting the death was different than the direction the media was taking at that point in time.

    I am in agreement Chef in Burlington, that this is Stock’s own mess, he chose to go to the media, Damien has every right to ask him to explain himself or at best explain why he doesn’t need to explain more detail.

    RT74, you bring up another good point, Seidel was very quick to make his tweets yet no one is asking him to explain his tweets.

  29. mike (in boston) says:

    first, i agree with the poster above who said that both guys come off poorly in this exchange. Bashing one of them doesn’t mean you’re in favour of the other one. I think one of the reasons people are harder on Cox (!) is that he has a history of dickishness (!!) on Twitter. He’s also older and has more industry credibility, so he’ll be looked at with more scrutiny. I don’t see that as partisanship towards McCormick.

    Second, there will be a police report eventually and it will include details that will support or undermine the AEA theory. the proof will be in the pudding. the fact that the family has come out against the suicide story does lend support to Stock’s side. But, if Stock had simply said that he will wait until the police report to make up his mind, there would be no story. Cryptic remarks don’t help anyone, and if you’re part of the media you either have to shut up or put up. there is no in-between.

  30. Hockey Editor says:

    Mike (in Boston) writes: “Second, there will be a police report eventually and it will include details”

    I honestly doubt that a “police report” would consist of anything more than “this was not a suspicious death.”

    If you’re looking for a cause of death, you’re looking to an autopsy. And in Canada, I don’t believe these are a matter of public record. After Rick Rypien’s death, the New York Times ran an article contrasting the certainty about Derek Boogaard’s situation with that of Rypien.

    If I had to rank the three media personalities in order of stupidity, I’d put PJ Stock at the head of the list, followed by McCormick (who seems to believe that having abundant hair is an indication that there’s activity going on beneath it) and Cox in third.

  31. Rene says:

    Gerry, just one little clarification and to add some context, Stock didn’t go running to Montreal reporters and the media, people are making it sound like he called up a reporter and said it was an accident, gave cryptic comments and hung up. It didn’t go down that way, his friend & former co-host Mitch Melnick called him up for an interview on Team 990 Radio and the topic of Rypien, Boogard, and Belak came up. I heard the entire 20 min interview and Stock spent most of the time saying that because of social media, everything was out of control and the media needed to back off and wait for the full story to come out before jumping to any conclusions and prematurely linking the three deaths together. He was doing fine and kept it very vague and it wasn’t until the last minute of the interview where I think he got a little frustrated when they asked him if there was any truth to the rumours of Belak popping pills, and in an effort to defend Belak, he blurted out that it was an accident. PJ isn’t a mean spirited guy and wasn’t out to embarass him or make himself look more smart. I know Stock, he’s not that type of guy but I think in hindsight, if he could take back his comments or reword it differently, he would’ve. I doubt he’ll say any more at this point and has learned his lesson the hard way, and will be more careful in the future and I’m sure his bosses have spoken to him and told him to put a lid on it.

    As far as McCormick and Cox – I think they were both being quite juvenile. What’s the story between these two anyway? Do they have some kind of history?

    And did anyone hear Cox on Primetime Sports this evening, he was talking about the Belak rumours. Did he really say that speculating to fit an agenda was ok? WTH?

  32. Hockey Editor says:

    Steve from Waterloo wrote: “Is it not the media’s role to report the facts? Just the facts…nothing but the facts? Are they insensitive for calling a spade a spade, or is it the media’s job to report the facts?”

    If there were facts to be reported, you can bet they would have been. And if there the innuendo were to be confirmed, given the intellectual power and level of emotional development of most of the sports media, you can bet that virtually all of them would be in public denial — along the lines of “How could this good Canadian boy have done something so icky?”

    Walter Bishop wrote: “Suicide does not make sense here. Wade had so much to live for in wife+children+broadcast career starting+battle of the blades+home renovation+extended family. His step father said Wade rented ice time in local hockey rink for battle of the blades. Yes we don’t know everything about depression, but it sounded like at most he had a from of mild depression. Plus there was no suicide note.”

    Unlike many, I am not presuming to know the circumstances of Belak’s death. I must point out, however, that the vast majority of people who commit suicide DO NOT leave a note. A common estimate is that four out of five don’t.

    When you say, “Suicide does not make sense,” well, I agree. It doesn’t. Because it’s not a rational act committed by a rational person. It’s an impulsive act committed by someone whose brain is not functioning properly.

    In a profoundly depressed person, it doesn’t matter if they have “so much to live for.” They can’t recognize that. Things in which most people would take pride or pleasure (a successful career, a family) inspire no such feelings.

    Paradoxically, some depressed people have such a need to be liked (again, because of low self-worth) that they present a cheerful front to the world.

    Again, not presuming that any of this applies to Belak, but hope it points out some misconceptions about mental illness and suicide.

  33. Don Mandrie says:

    Gerry in Burlington-PJ Stock spoke about Belak’s death not to “a reporter” but to a man who actually hired PJ to host a radio show in Montreal, which eventually led to his job at Hockey NMight in Canada. Stock was a guest on the Mitch Melnick show in Montreal. Chris Nilan was on at the same time. It was a round table discussion. I listened to it. He seemed miffed that most of the media in this country came to the immediate conclusion that it was suicide brought on by having to fight in the NHL. Stock knew Belak. He had recently spent time with him preparing Belak for his role in Battle of the Blades. Melnick played a clip of Ian Laperierre saying that the over-use of pain killers had become an issue in the NHL. When asked by Melnick if he was aware that Belak had been popping pills, Stock said no and then offered his view of what might have happened. He didn’t volunteer or blurt out to some random reporter or via twitter that Belak’s death was an accident. Now Belak’s own family says much the same thing. What would you like Stock to say publicly at this point – that Belak died while jacking off with a rope around his neck? Maybe Cox can use his descriptive powers to write what happened while at the same time devote an entire column to the dangers of premature speculation, especially via twitter. And then maybe McCormick can shave his head for cancer awareness.

  34. RT74 says:

    Bob McCown & Damien Cox discussing the twitter fight with McCormick on PrimeTime Sports. Cox surprises me with his comments, he admits that he was being childish and should’ve just ignored McCormick.

    McCown then talks about having reputable sources who have told him that Belak’s death was indeed an accident. This leads to an interesting discussion about the role of the media in a situation like this and if they have an obligation to find out the truth and how much of it should stay private.

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