Main media criticism of ESPN has absolutely exploded over the past 48 hours, thanks to the network’s decision to initially not cover Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault charge.
(The entire main media, not just ESPN’s Pat Forde, blew off Pitino case)
The basic criticism, first lodged by Mike Florio at the ever-present PRO FOOTBALL TALK, is certainly salient and justified. But over time, the sniping has reached a level of absurdity, revealing just how much disdain ESPN’s competitors have for the WWL.
The great irony though about the feeding frenzy is that these are the same non-ESPNers who bury stories to their liking every single day. With no better example the central detail in the Rick Pitino extortion case.
On April 24, I wrote a piece for SbB detailing how ESPN’s Pat Forde refused to report important details of an extortion charge (via the FBI) that Pitino had lodged against a woman. More specifically, what the woman, Karen Sypher, had allegedly claimed to Pitino she was going to reveal if he didn’t pay her off. (Pitino went to the FBI, which spurred the criminal - not civil - complaint.)
Like the Roethlisberger case, the woman in involved in the Pitino deal seemed a little imbalanced, but since the coach took her to court, shouldn’t we know the reason why? This would be like reporting the Roethlisberger case but not revealing what he’s actually accused of.
Now, the target of my post was ESPN, but to be fair, the entire main media did what Forde did - covering for Pitino. To this day, no main media outlet has reported what the woman allegedly said she would reveal about the coach. (Now, if it was Billy Gillispie, think we would’ve gotten the gory details from ESPN and the main media? Of course.)
It’s clear in the Roethlisberger situation that PFT and other blogs forced ESPN’s hand in covering the story. But in the case of Pitino, no blogs, besides SbB, questioned the media’s approach.
So though ESPN errored in delaying it’s coverage of Roethlisberger, the evisceration of the network is more than a little hypocritical. More it was a vehicle for beaten-down competitors and blogs to attempt to chip away at the sports media monolith.
As I’ve posted innumerable times on SbB in the past, so long as ESPN has no serious competitors in the national sports media space, it will continue to flout its power when it comes to deciding what’s news. Get used to it.