When the first video of Ray Rice dragging his then-fiancee off a casino elevator like a slab of meat appeared, I thought, "God bless TMZ."
With TMZ's release of video today showing him punching Janay Palmer twice and knocking her to the floor, I say, God bless TMZ again and again.
You can read what I wrote in February here under the headline: "Ray Rice and how TMZ counters the great American hype machine."
TMZ did the job the mainstream sports media failed to do in showing us the ugliness of this incident. And don't talk to me about paying for video. Everybody does it in one form or another today, from the networks to the cable channels to the biggest mainstream web outlets in the world.
I wonder how all the fine Baltimore fans who gave Rice a standing ovation when he ran on the field at M&T Bank Stadium before an exhibition game against the San Francisco 49ers last month are now feeling about their actions in the wake of this video?
I wonder how all the local hosts on sports radio and newscasters on local TV affiliates who swallowed the Ravens shameless spin all summer and reproduced it on their shows are feeling today. Was it worth it to compromise yourselves this way so as to not have Ravens management glaring at you when you came over to cover the team?
I wonder how Ravens management is feeling today. I wonder if there is anyone in that organization who tried to minimize or bury what Rice did who can now look the women in his or her life in the eye and not feel a need to apologize. And this goes from Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh on down.
Forget Roger Goodell. He's pathetic. The national media did to him what we didn't do here in Baltimore: Publicly shame him for the joke two-game suspension he levied against Rice. If Goodell has any shame, it's time for him to think about an exit strategy.
There is a ton of sociology packed into what happened on that elevator. Domestic violence, women's rights, gender and power are at the top of the list. That's not my beat.
But the way in which the media contribute to our slavish worship and adolescent emulation of the men who play and run professional football is my concern as a media critic. So is the role media can play in public shaming.
I think members of the local media need to all look in the mirror today and do a gut check on how they reported and analyzed the Rice story. Really, if you have any integrity, you need to do it -- especially if your station or you are somehow financially connected to the Ravens.
I can't wait to see how CBS will report the video and reaction to it Thursday night to a TV audience expected to be 20 million strong. Like all sports networks that carry games, CBS has billions of reasons to be nice to the NFL given its lucrative TV contracts. But CBS Sports also needs viewers to believe it has some integrity when it comes to reporting and commenting on an act as ugly as Rice's.
And what about Rice's one-time mentor, Ray Lewis, now an analyst on ESPN? I can't wait to see what "Big Ray" has to say about "Little Ray" now that TMZ has shown us the truth about what the Ravens running back did to the woman who is now his wife in that elevator.
UPDATE: The Ravens terminated Rice's contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely Monday afternoon. Read about it here.
UPDATE2: See Lewis distance himself Monday from the young man he once was so proud to have mentored here.