Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend and Lance Armstrong’s admission of guilt, concerning his PED use, have dominated the sports media cycle over the last few weeks, and rightfully so.
The cancer conquering bicycle phenom admitting that he juiced, followed by a Notre Dame linebacker making up a dead girlfriend, because he saw the utter inanity in a blow-up doll, will undoubtedly go down as the biggest sports stories of the year.
And while these stories are truly remarkable in themselves, the one thing irking me the most every time I turn on ESPN or ESPN radio is this: “How the hell did these ducks fail to uncover either of these stories?”
For a monopolistic media empire employing the most highly sought after journalists, they really shat themselves. And while ESPN will rightfully give credit for the uncovering of the truth to Deadspin—a sports media blog known for their irreverent cynicism towards just about everyone—their stronghold on the wide world of sports would have you believe that they should be praised for reporting that Deadspin is reporting. This is a problem.
And because Deadspin, the company who would normally point out the clumsy journalistic skills typically practiced by those at ESPN, were the ones to uncover the story, they are most likely avoiding pointing out the media giant’s colossal mishap for fear of annoyingly egregious self- aggrandizement. And we sure as hell know ESPN won’t say that ESPN sucked hard.
No, instead, we are told by Gene Wojiwhattheshit, one of ESPN’s most highly regarded college football reporters, in the days following the initial break, he is “shocked” by this story. Thanks, Gene.
When he and other members of the ESPN were asked why they failed to uncover the truth, they simply stated they “didn’t want to pry.”
Didn’t want to pry?
You’re F’ing journalists.
No one’s telling you to become an anti-social bisexual with a bad haircut, illegal gizmos, and a dragon tattoo to uncover the truth. We just want you to do your job. Investigate, ask questions and show a little bit of backbone and journalistic integrity. You’re the biggest sports media conglomerate in the world. If the man says he has a girlfriend who is dying, than do some homework on her before you plaster the story on the news feed and bump his Heisman hopes. Instead, we have to rely on blogs with inferior resources, more menial journalistic awards, and significantly less pretentiousness to uncover the truth.
And not only did ESPN fail to uncover the original truth concerning the matter but their continual coverage is pathetic as well. While smaller sports blogs continue to pry, dig and discover, going so far as to uncover year’s worth of tweets between Lennay Kekua (the made up, dead girlfriend) and Manti Te’o, ESPN continually peddles nonsensical columns in an effort to clean up the debacle.
For days following the initial break of the story all I was able to gather from the talking heads at ESPN was that they were utterly confused, with Scott Van Pelt saying something along the lines of, “I’m utterly confused,” all the while smaller sports companies, like Deadspin, continued to show grit and temerity by continually coming out with more FACTS to the story. I guess they did their homework to have such confidence.
And lest anyone think I’m grinding up on Deadspin’s jock, I will gladly point out that I think they’re cynicism and irreverence is insecurely flaunted because they really want those big time journalist jobs at places like ESPN. I also disagree with the entire Gawker Media network on every major political issue, and just generally dislike their brand as a whole.
However, it’s that same cynicism and irreverence for people at large that dug deeper than a half inch to uncover what is quite possibly the strangest story the sports world has ever seen.
And I’d bank my life savings on the fact that if any one of their writers was awarded as much time with Lance Armstrong as Rick Reilly—ESPN’s golden boy columnist known for his heart felt human interest pieces and shitty metaphors—they sure as hell wouldn’t have had to write the column most recently published by the man ESPN’s resident bad-boy, Bill Simmons, once sarcastically described as “raising the journalistic bar, both professionally and morally.”
(Check out ESPN’S Column, It’s all about the lies)
The article was about Mr. Reilly seeing the world through rose-pedaled lenses and galloping through a lily field as Livestrong lied to him about using PED’s. He didn’t quite put it that way, but any person familiar with Reilly’s article—and the blind grandmothers that Reilly typically implores for a man tear—know that the man is a sap-sucking self-righteous lover of all.
Reilly goes on to say how upset he is that Lance would dupe him while he defended the man so ardently for so long. And does Rick apologize to his readers for shoddy reporting and overall douchebaggery? No. His self-righteous indignation is aimed squarely at Armstrong for lying to him. Well, hell, Rick, you’re a journalist man I thought you guys didn’t take things at face value. To be fair, Reilly does say that his own reporting turned up nothing. Figures.
And the irony? Reilly is one of the most passive aggressive antagonists of bloggers in media. Let’s review:
Passive Aggressive Public Pot Shot No.1: When asked about the differences between he and Bill Simmons, aforementioned bad-boy whose rise to prominence came through blogging, Reilly was quoted as saying, “I’m old school. He’s new school…He’s a blogger. I still love reading him.”
Passive Aggressive Public Pot Shot No. 2: While giving the commencement address at Missouri’s illustrious J-school, Reilly stated, “When you get out there, all I ask is that you: Don’t write for FREE…If you do it for free, they won’t respect you in the morning…So just don’t.”
Funny, right, considering the fact that it was bloggers who uncovered, arguably, the strangest sports story in recent memory. It was bloggers who didn’t settle behind a fat paycheck and 800 words a week, who climbed higher than their pay grade to uncover the truth instead of relying on their sap-sucking laurels. And it probably would have been those same type of bloggers, hungry for career advancement and their spot in the world of journalism who wouldn’t have allowed their admiration for an athlete to get in the way of their @#%$*% job.
The only broadcaster I admire from ESPN over the past two weeks is Brent Musburger, who after being publicly reprimanded by ESPN for his comments concerning the beauty of AJ McCarron’s girlfriend, Miss Alabama, signed off of a college basketball broadcast by saying that Holly Rowe, another ESPN talking mouth, was “smokin’ tonight.” That was, no doubt, the proud middle finger being waved by one of the most decorated broadcasters in sports history right in the corporate faces of ESPN.
I dedicate this blog to that man.
Update: The NY Times reported last night that ESPN got wind of this story a week before Deadspin ran the piece. However, their lack of moxie towards major media markets and general ballessness fawned for a sit down before they would run it. Their arrogance truly believed they were the only sports media outlet in the world with this scoop and now they’re left holding their shriveled journalistic schlong while Deadspin reaps the benefits. Nice.
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