ESPN announced today that the story of LeBron James acting the fool in Vegas last Saturday night by ESPN Reporter Arash Markazi will not be reposted.
The story, which ESPN claimed today was available only via web searches and never available for original viewing at ESPNLA.com and ESPN.com, was removed from a company web server a few hours after it was published Wednesday morning.
ESPN released statements today from Markazi and Rob King, Vice President & Editor-in-Chief, ESPN Digital Media.
“ESPN.com will not be posting the story in any form. We looked into the situation thoroughly and found that Arash did not properly identify himself as a reporter or clearly state his intentions to write a story. As a result, we are not comfortable with the content, even in an edited version, because of the manner in which the story was reported.
We’ve been discussing the situation with Arash and he completely understands. To be clear, the decisions to pull the prematurely published story and then not to run it were made completely by ESPN editorial staff without influence from any outside party.”
“I have been in conversations with ESPN.com’s editors and, upon their complete review, understand their decision not to run the story. It is important to note that I stand by the accuracy of the story in its entirety, but should have been clearer in representing my intent to write about the events I observed.”
Hard to disagree with ESPN’s decision if Markazi did misrepresent himself to the James party. Or fail to represent what he intended to report on. From his statement, Markazi seems to indicate that the latter is what happened.
And in Markazi’s defense, the appearance by James was a pre-promoted, public event that James was paid to appear at. But if Markazi’s access to the James party wasn’t done in a media context - and nothing technically newsworthy took place - I can understand why ESPN did what it did.
Of course, if the story was a puff piece and didn’t cast James in a negative light, safe to assume the story would not have been pulled in the first place.