Viral Misinformation

December 27, 2012

Yesterday we had the pleasure of yet another blog entry from Mike Sunnucks on the Phoenix Business Journal web site with his typical anti-Coyotes slant. We’re all used to it by now, and can predict the timeline of how things will progress during the day after Mike hits the “publish” button. Somebody from the Puck Daddy blog will pick it up and run with it, adding more snotty comments or simply leaving Sunnucks’ prose alone. Lather, rinse, repeat with other hockey bloggers. How far it goes from there depends on how “good” it is, notwithstanding how “true” it is.

By the time the blogs are posted, social media has grabbed the story from one source or another and then it becomes “fact”, whether the original blog post by Sunnucks was factual or not. Once Coyotes fans start complaining about it on social media, they are labeled as loons and whiners.

This cycle repeats every time Mike posts anything related to the Coyotes simply because of the negative interest that exists on the web for this sort of misinformation.

Let’s examine the latest “Phoenix Coyotes stand to turn profit if they stay off the ice” blog entry. I won’t link to it, by the way, just out of the principle that I don’t want to contribute to the click farming goal of the web site it sits on.

Ken Jones and Walt Opaska

Mike implies he called one of his frequently quoted sources, Ken Jones, for information about how his current, soon to be failed, referendum effort was going.

Ken Jones, one of the organizers of the effort to get a referendum on the ballot, said volunteers are collecting petition signatures.

Despite having NOTHING to do with the City of Glendale or any party related to the arena lease deal between Hockey Partners and Glendale, Mike rang up Walt Opaska for insight into the current state of affairs with the Coyotes. Mr. Opaska is a failed Glendale mayoral candidate that didn’t make it past the primary. He affiliates himself with the Tea Party at least enough to attend meetings now and then and pal around with their leaders. Walt also was tangentially involved with the prior failed referendum attempt.

“Right now, Ken Jones and others are out there collecting signatures everyday,” said Walt Opaska, an attorney with the law offices of Bryan Cave LLP in Phoenix and an opponent of the deal. “Everyone also is waiting to see if Jamison can actually close the deal and buy the team before the end of January deadline.”

The effort that Ken Jones and others put into this project was nearly non-existent. Walt neglected to mention that they didn’t bother covering Glendale Glitters, Tanger Outlets or any crowded venue the entire time they were collecting signatures. We know this because we actually went out and about in Glendale to see where our opponents were. We know this because we had people that attended Glendale Tea Party meetings tell us. They were nowhere, they won’t bother to turn in any signatures later today. Even the usually hardy Ken had severely shortened hours at his usual post at the library.

Backers of the Coyotes deal are skeptical Jones and his cohorts will able to collect the more than 6,900 voter petitions signature by the last week of December to force a referendum.

Who are these backers? Where are the quotes from “them”? Why are they skeptical? Is their skepticism based on the ridiculous errors made by “Back To Sanity” (BTS, the PAC started by Ken Jones and Francine Romesburg) in their referendum paperwork? Why didn’t Mike mention that the BTS people shot themselves in the foot by blowing OVER HALF of their allotted time to gather signatures by making THE SAME mistakes they made the last time?

If there was an iota of interest in producing a balanced article rather than one simply designed to be parroted verbatim by lazy hockey bloggers, would Mike have called “Backers of the Coyotes deal” or at least named them? How does he KNOW what “Backers of the Coyotes deal” think, simply by reading Twitter posts? Just burning electrons with predictable quotes from the same people constitutes neither “facts” nor “journalism”, yet the same predictable people grab Mike’s stuff and run with it in predictable fashion every single time.

Basic Errors, Easily Checked

Other than the misleading numbers that are used in a disjointed fashion in Mike’s blog post to “prove” his point that the Coyotes are dumbasses that don’t belong in Glendale and make more money by not playing, Mike didn’t even bother to do very basic research. That research, by the way, isn’t even necessary for people who are REALLY following the Coyotes story, myself for example.

“The $11 million dollar figure would have been for a full year,” said Glendale spokeswoman Julie Frisoni. “Since we are now halfway through the year, it will most likely be in the range of $5.5 million to $6.5 million. It just depends on when the purchase of the team is complete and when Jamison takes over management of the facility.”

Glendale is subtracting $60,000 per game from the $15 million for every hockey game missed because of the lockout. But Jamison still can come out ahead financially.

Mike is talking about the current season to make his “point”. Please note Ms. Frisoni pointed out the amount for the first year, this fiscal year, paid to Hockey Partners will be significantly less than the oft-quoted $15M average fee over the length of the 20 year contract. In fact, the fee will almost certainly be very close to $5.5M.

Mike uses the $15M number in the very next paragraph to imply Hockey Partners will be pocketing $15M minus $60k per game missed due to the lockout. That’s not close to correct. If Mike KNOWS it’s wrong and is just using those “facts” to bolster his “point”, then that makes him a liar not to be trusted and quoted on any other blogs. If Mike DOESN’T know it’s wrong, then he’s misinformed and shouldn’t be quoted on any other blogs. Either way, it SHOULD cast doubt on the veracity off his blog posts now and in the future.

He then goes on to do some more correct “math” using Frisoni’s correct numbers, subtracting “about $1M” from $5.5M to $6.5M. One must wonder what number Mike would have used if the “math” of 19 more missed games times $60k total of $1.14M was less than a million rather than more.

The fact of the matter is that $60k will not be subtracted from the amount paid to Hockey Partners this fiscal year. Had Mike, or any other reposting blog person, been paying attention, they would have known that the latest agreement revised the first year payment and removed the lockout subtractions from the mix. Read this. So, Mike could have ACTUALLY used a HIGHER base number to prove his “point” because his “math” was unnecessary. The FACT is that Hockey Partners will receive the entire pro-rated amount based on their “closing” date without being penalized for missing games.

Generally Misleading – at best

Of course, Mike doesn’t bother to mention that those monies paid to Hockey Partners during the lockout are not solid profit. While Coyotes players don’t have to be paid, arena (and other) staff must be. Utilities have to be paid, landscaping has to be paid for, etc. None of that is mentioned by Mike and, I assume, his cadre of parrots. If Mike had bothered to call Mike Nealy, he could have even found out what the utility bill is when there is ice in the building and subtracted that out of his “profit” number. But, he didn’t.

To his dubious credit, Mike doesn’t even REALLY take the stand that he is credited for by the republishers of his blog:

But those revenue losses could be more than offset by Glendale’s arena management money and the lack of a professional sports team payroll.

There are other things in the post that bear pointing out, but my point is made and there’s real work that requires my attention here at international corporate headquarters.

When somebody is posting FACTS instead of opinion based of whatever pieces of information and misinformation they choose, they don’t use the word “COULD”, they use the word “WILL”. The reposters and subsequent joyful troll tweeters of the Coyotes comedy immediately transpose those two words in their brains and “opinion” is then transformed into “fact”.

So, yeah, as Coyotes fans we’re tired of it.



  1. On the “Make It Ten” Facebook page you said:

    “There are errors in Sunnucks post, period, it’s easy to prove. If you choose to believe otherwise you have not done further research or simply choose to delude yourself. It’s your life to live as you choose.”

    Nobody asked you to butt in Fallar! The retards running that facebook page are mine to deal with! Why don’t you go after those Coyote haters “blomfeld” and “id4joey” on the NBC Pro Hockey Talk boards instead you same sex loving christian bashing come choker!