We need to talk about the way the Dallas Cowboys are throwing Dak Prescott and Trevon Diggs under the bus for their Divisional Round loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
As social media has evolved to become the dominant way that sports fans get their news, teams have figured out that the best way to align the public’s desire for content with the team’s desire to control the message, was to hire journalists to create in-house content.
Some of the best content out there comes directly from the teams themselves, but anyone that pays attention to the professional sports media landscape knows that in-house media’s job can be summed up in one phrase:
“promote, and don’t rock the boat.”
That’s why it was so shocking to so many around the league to see the Dallas Cowboys official Twitter account lay the blame for their 19-12 defeat at the hands of the 49ers squarely at the feet of franchise quarterback Dak Prescott and pro bowl defensive back Trevon Diggs.
Immediately after the game, DallasCowboys.com writer Patrik Walker posted an article titled “Dak on Loss to 49ers: ‘Unacceptable, 100% On Me’, ” which was then tweeted out by the Cowboys official Twitter account with the caption “Dak Prescott gave away the ball twice in the narrow loss to the 49ers, in a matchup the Cowboys had a chance to win if they didn’t again generate self-inflicted wounds.”
They immediately followed that with another article from Walker that called this Cowboys season “anything but special.”
The Cowboys social media team also emptied the clip on Trevon Diggs with a post that stated “Diggs can’t snag key INT,” and they didn’t even bother to include an author’s name on that article.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “none of these are hit jobs, they’re just harsh facts.”
But in-house media doesn’t deal in harsh facts. They embrace discourse and analysis insofar as it keeps your time and attention squarely within their boundaries.
And they go a long way to make sure that franchise players are insulated from the type of criticism that comes from outside media critics.
For an example of how far they go, look no further than the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers Twitter account has never once included a photo of LeBron James in any final score tweet after a loss.
Even if a loss has nothing to do with LeBron James, the Lakers don’t want you to associate an image of the NBA’s most famous player with losing.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are over here like “look at these losers Dak and Trevon.”
Before you go pat the Cowboys on the back for journalistic integrity, let’s wait and see if they post anything critical of the person responsible who paid Dak Prescott, or who hired a head coach that had a six-playoff trip streak of getting bounced before the Super Bowl, or who didn’t replace Brett Maher after four missed extra points, which led to Mike McCarthy hesitating to attempt a 52-yard field goal before halftime.
Had the Cowboys kicked a field goal there, Dak has one less interception, and Tony Pollard doesn’t break his leg right before he hits free agency.
But you won’t see anything on the Dallas Cowboys social media about that.
Because it’s not about the Dallas Cowboys in-house media team suddenly channeling the journalistic spirit of Walter Cronkite.
It’s about pointing the finger for nearly three decades of failure in any direction other than the one it should go.
Toward the owner, Jerry Jones.
Let that sink in.