A letter from a poison pen

Pam Frampton
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“It was driven by a petulance and frustration, and it had the tone of a president with an approval rating of 35 per cent. He’s sounding less statesmanlike when he needs to seem more.”

— Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio

Now, I’ll admit I’m not the world’s biggest sports fan, but I do work for a newspaper with a sports section and even I’d be hard-pressed not to notice how closely we cover the St. John’s IceCaps.

Heck, so much ink gets spilled on hockey here, we’ve even had folks complain that we seem to think it’s the only game in town.

I don’t think that criticism is fair, but I get their point.

Hockey — and, specifically IceCaps hockey — tends to dominate our sports section.

And that’s a direct reflection of the team’s popularity with our readers. That’s the way things should be.

So if the letter to the editor had been written by anyone else than former premier Danny Williams, I might have been surprised by the recent criticism of our IceCaps coverage.

But we’re talking Danny Williams, so the petulance is more or less expected.

Williams’ letter ran in our paper on May 25, and I certainly respect his right to express his opinion. That’s what the op/ed section of the paper is for, and we love to hear from readers — so keep those cards and letters coming.

Williams berated our sports editor, Robin Short, for what Williams perceived to be negative commentary on the IceCaps’ last game of the season, which the team lost.

He said he was disappointed, and that Short’s piece was “grossly unfair” and had glaring omissions.

Anyone who’s ever met Robin Short knows he is more than capable of defending himself and his professional reputation, so that’s not why I’m writing this.

I’m writing this because Danny Williams’ letter is astonishing in its naiveté.

Williams is a smart man and has been around the block. And yet his skin has clearly not grown any thicker since he left politics. Nor has his desire to micro-manage been diminished.

But here’s the thing: even the mighty Danny Williams can’t control the media. He can lambaste it. He can call journalists’ reputations into disrepute. But he cannot shape the way the news — or sports — is reported, particularly in a column.

In his letter, Williams repeats the word “failure” throughout to emphasize his opinion that our coverage was lacking. It’s a writing tool quite popular with politicians and evangelists and the like.

Let’s try it out ourselves.

Williams’ letter is a failure in that it neglects to acknowledge that Robin Short is an award-winning sports writer with more than two decades of experience who is certainly qualified to write insightful commentary about hockey players’ abilities.

Ironically, the IceCaps president and CEO’s slap-down of Short came hot on the heels of Short’s winning an Atlantic Journalism Award for his coverage of — you guessed it — the IceCaps.

Williams’ letter is a failure if he thought it would bolster his image as a business leader, hockey champion and former statesman, because instead he comes across as a spoiled kid who’s mad because he didn’t get his own way.

Williams’ letter is a failure because it says far more about his arrogance and presumptuousness than it does about any perceived failing of Short’s.

Does he seriously think the role of a sports writer is to reach for the pompoms and trot out a cheerleading routine for the home team?

Give me a break. Danny Williams is far smarter than that.

The problem is, his inner spite-cat has more sway than his clear-thinking, rational side.

Robin Short’s job, in this case, was to provide his analysis of the game and the team’s performance. Period.

Williams wrote that Short failed “to mention the outstanding performances of players … who delivered on and off the ice all season with their outstanding skill, leadership and community involvement.”

But it isn’t Short’s duty to say what swell guys and community heroes the players are, nor to write glowing press releases to be vetted by team management.

And the aspects of the team’s performance he chose to write about and the words he decided to employ are entirely his prerogative — just as the words Williams used were his own.

It’s called freedom of the press and it works both ways.

Reading the letter, I couldn’t help but remember a similar tirade from Williams when someone else said something that he construed as being negative.

“We don’t need that kind of pessimism and crap coming out of your mouth in the mornings, I can tell you right now.”


Remember that comment, from June 2009?

His target then was radio talk-show host Randy Simms, who had dared to muse aloud about the province’s strategy for troubled areas of the economy, like the fishery and forestry.

There’s room in the world — and this province — for more than one point of view.

Surely, Mr. Williams, it’s time to set aside this, “If-you-ain’t-for-us-you’re-agin-us” mentality.

It does not become you.

Pam Frampton is a columnist and

The Telegram’s associate managing editor. She can be reached by email at


Twitter: pam_frampton

Organizations: IceCaps

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Recent comments

  • Ed Power
    June 03, 2012 - 10:58

    I am quite suprised to see the pseudonymous Mr. Smith show up so late to the comment feed, I would have thought that he would have jumped on this column before the papers were loaded onto the trucks. Must of slept in I guess. It happens to all of us at one time or another. Well said, Ms. Frampton. I like, and admire, Mr. Williams but sometimes he does go just a bit over the top.

  • Just being observant.
    June 03, 2012 - 09:03

    John Smith must be akin to "Tony" the Tory Character! Sure sounds like him.

  • Virginia Waters
    June 03, 2012 - 08:42

    You're really in trouble if they have to recruit John Smith to wade in on your behalf. They only use him to defend the most preposterous, outrageous and indefensible things - things like Muskrat Falls. Not that he's very good at it, but their strategy is to carpet-bomb the media with the same simpleton message day after day until it sticks in your head like a Tide commercial. What his comments lack in merit they make up in sheer quantity. Their instructions to Smith is that he should be the first commenter in the morning and the last in the evening so that on-line readers can't escape him.

  • John Smith
    June 02, 2012 - 20:02

    Well, you are right about one thing Pam, Mr. Williams is a smart man, much smarter than you or I. He is a self made millionaire, a Rhode scholar, the most popular premier in canadian history, yet you feel you have the wisdom to discuss his merits, or lack thereof? Nither you, nor the jealous misfits who live in Mommy's basemant, are worthy to even shine his shoes. Keep up the good work Mr. Williams,,,if only we had more like you this province would be a better place.

  • Some sook wha?
    June 02, 2012 - 19:45

    You never see Wells, Tobin, Peckford nor the late Messrs. Smallwood or Moores acting like such big sooks after leaving office.

  • sam
    June 02, 2012 - 19:02

    It is almost funny the way some people have to find negative things all the time. The Ice Caps had a great 1st season...how can anybody argue any different? And as for Danny Williams...him and his govt brought more pride to this province than anyone else. Of course the media never did like this...which is why Danny was constantly at odds with alot of the reporters. Can we all try to be a little more positive and realize that we live in one of the best places in the world? Oh yeah...but that might not sell many papers...thats why you now have Pam defending Robin! Guys thats what this is all about...its very sad if you ask me.

    • Ted
      June 03, 2012 - 13:16

      Maybe the "positive attitude" could start with the revered Mr. Williams.

  • j barrett
    June 02, 2012 - 15:36

    Way 2 go pam if u cant stand the heat,get out of the kitchen.the free press lives on .,,.,.

  • Ron Tizzard
    June 02, 2012 - 15:22

    Bill, you're not serious..."Robin expresses his opinion and he's referred to as an award winning journalist. Danny expresses his, and he's called a spoiled child. What I see is classic Williams passion, you muse, really? Robin did his job, report on a series. Danny went into a wimp...why? Because he expects to be a winner each time he's at bat (or his team is on the ice. Only a child would expect that. His team, his leadership was magnificant. The team didn't win the 'cup', and Danny wimped like a 'Child', and went into a rant, on the closest person with an 'professsional' opinion. The teams supporters were more than proud of the team...the only problem was that Danny took the loss VERY PERSONALLY. So, the question has to be asked...was Danny into it for the sport, or solely for his style of GLORY i.e. everything or nothing 'first time out'? GLORY COMES WITH WINS AND LOSSES...DANNY KNOWS THAT! So, why his wimpering? His behavior is certainly not a true representation of what we expected..and certainly not a great impression of behaviour left for the 'kid supporters' who watched the games closely. These kids witnessed wonderful games; sportsmanship; and witnessed their team in the finals...the first year out. I'm betting these 'kid' supporters slept tight, after the final game...did Danny? I bet not, judging by his public wimping, which is a tremendous let-down for his team, his supporters, but a particularly lousey example for the teams kid-fans. What? They should be ashamed of the team Danny...and take your lead. You're the leader...act like one; or take your puck and go home like the spoiled child you are behaving as. You and your team had a wonderful sewason...all egos aside! Do the dance of joy. And, get ready for next year. The team's fans will be there...will you?

  • mahutchy
    June 02, 2012 - 15:15

    There is no doubt that Danny W can be considered greedy, self righteous, a cry baby, etc.... but at the end of the day we have to examine the facts here: 1) Robin wrote on his opinion of the last game of the season. 2) Danny disagreed with Robin's opinion, so he wrote about his own opinion. 3) Pam becomes the "3rd man in" and should get ejected from the game for joining a fight already in progress!!!!

  • M H
    June 02, 2012 - 15:09

    There is no doubt that Danny W can be considered greedy, self righteous, a cry baby, etc.... but at the end of the day we have to examine the facts here: 1) Robin wrote on his opinion of the last game of the season. 2) Danny disagreed with Robin's opinion, so he wrote about his own opinion. 3) Pam becomes the "3rd man in" and should get ejected from the game for joining a fight already in progress!!!!

  • Just sayin
    June 02, 2012 - 14:45

    Better be careful Pam. Williams likes to sue people who scrutinize his actions and who comment on his behaviour. Perhaps the sports writer could sue Williams for defaming him professionally?

  • Maggy Carter
    June 02, 2012 - 10:52

    Unfortunately the column is dead on. Some hockey or Danny fans are quick to condemn any criticism of Danny's behaviour. Posters like Carrie and Frank accuse other posters of being nasty toward Danny but, oddly, they see nothing wrong with Danny's tendency to be extremely nasty toward anyone who crosses him or disagrees with him. It is pretty obvious that Danny suffers from some level of narcissism. It is not an unusual trait among political leaders. In Danny's case, it did not stop him from being one of the better premiers we've had since '49. His tenure would have been even more impressive had it not been for his occasional intemperate treatment of individuals and groups who disagreed with him. He won a number of popular battles with the federal government and the oil industry. His parting gift of the Muskrat Falls development has proven less and less sensible with the passage of time. Once having adopted a position on any issue however, people like Danny are unable to abandon it - even if subsequent analysis or events show it to be wrong-headed. You can like or dislike Danny, but any objective person would have to admit that, thus far at least, he has lived a charmed life. He has succeeded in sports, academics, business and politics. His tendency to be overly aggressive has earned him more than a few detractors along the way. With all that success and with everything else that he has acquired, one would think that Danny might adopt a somewhat more philosophical outlook on life. Time to stop tilting at windmills and taking on all comers. Time to mend a few fences.

  • W McLean
    June 02, 2012 - 10:21

    "Give me a break. Danny Williams is far smarter than that." I do not take this statement as self-evident.

  • Frank M
    June 02, 2012 - 09:30

    Obviously we want sports writers to report the sports. But Robin Short's article was much too negative and NOT (as it should have been) balanced to include the positive aspects of the IceCaps season. I am glad someone took him on - why shouldn't the owner of the team defend his people? Pam has never been a fan of danny so hardly surprising to see her take any chance she can to take a shot at him. Get over yourselves people. Danny had every right to do what he did.

  • carrie
    June 02, 2012 - 09:25

    Surprise! Surprise! Danny Williams expresses an opinion and defends his team and the Telegram gives us a week worth of nasty letters and no less than two columns in this weekend's paper. Once again the Telegram shows its true colours - everyone can have an opinion except Danny Williams. And if he DARE to have an opinion the Telegram uses their "journalists" to defend one another. Give me a break. Have the guts to take the heat. The Tely can dish it out, but clearly cannot take it.

  • Bob
    June 02, 2012 - 08:52

    Remember the calls to The Open Mouth Show by O'Brien, Hedderson et al glorifying "our leader"? Seriously 'tho, I thing about six months in a personality enhancement clinic might knock some sense into his already maxed-out ego.

  • Ron Tizzard
    June 02, 2012 - 08:02

    I agree with you Pam...any Clinical Therapist worth his/her salt would suggest that Danny could use a few sessions with a Clinical Therapist to discuss his unmanageable, spiteful, unappreciative 'Inner Child". The average, positively-sensitive 'Inner Child' would be jumping up and down just to have had a team in the league which had performed so well in its first-year...it walked and skated with such great pride, and hardly stumbled; it garnered so much positive attention; it should beamed with such pride while looking at the 'sea of white' in the stands each night. Yes, Danny you know you can't have it all, you know that because you are the adult...while your Inner Child wimpers and complains. Go see a Therapist about reining-in the self-centred child with-in you...you are the ADULT, say it agiain "I am the ADULT'. Nothing more embarrassing, after the fact, Danny, than that Inner Child going public. The Adult gets the blame all the time..and that's downright unfair, isn't it b'y! Pam understands all that, that's why she took it easy on you, and didn't hit you with another Column, over the head. Congratulations to you and team for the production in its first year. Don't spoil the much earned adulation with a public 'sook'...it can only belittle you and the team, as you are the 'public face'.

  • What money can't Buy
    June 02, 2012 - 07:59

    1st off, that day you refferenced about the talk show host I remember he said to along time caller and suppoerter of ther premier at the time, in attempt to enlighten the conversation " THat premier could launch an aerial assult on Bell Island and that she'd still support him" and im only sorry I didn't have a change of clothes with me. We see alot of this attitude in hockey fans. I've heard Paddy daley/radio host and hockey fan, let it be known to the public that he's 6' foot plus, has hair any hockey player would DREAM of, consider's himself a long time stud and still thinks the HAB nots are still the best team in the league because retro player patrick Waaaa might come back to coach. And thats all good! But there has to be some cut off point from the passion outside the arena and you can't pretend that your a reff when your off the ice. On the ice, The passion that makes these hockey players fight is real, no doubt. But outside it makes them seem that your looking for a fight because they don't want to accept the truth of the matter and can no longer justify anything else with words. Not to worry, there are 12 step programs out their that kind of anger, probably not on the island part of the province FYI. Everyone needs to take a deep breath, the boyz will soon be getting their first NL EI cheques and the clock will be fixed. I also I think Danny should keep it on the ice.

    • Bill
      June 02, 2012 - 14:11

      I don't get this column, nor Wakeham's. Robin expresses his opinion and he's referred to as an award winning journalist. Danny expresses his, and he's called a spoiled child. What I see is classic Williams passion- the same passion that helped ice a team in record time, produce 46 sellouts and an amazing cup run. The same passion he brought to the confederation building everyday as premier, and that led to record approval ratings over 80%. Far from a President with a 35% rating. I find it hypocritical to claim Williams has a "you're with us or against us" attitude when his criticism of a telegram report has garnered two response columns from reporters in this Saturday's Telegram.