ESPN Irrevocably Damaged Feldman’s Livelihood

In the aftermath of ESPN executives suspending Bruce Feldman for doing nothing wrong, and then lying to the national media and public about the nature of Feldman’s senseless punishment, we now have our first real world example of how the conduct by those ESPN executives has irreparably damaged Feldman’s ability to do his job in the future.

Chris LaPlaca: Bruce Feldman's Duties Were Never Suspended

(ESPN VP Chris LaPlaca’s contradictory Tweets revealed ESPN deceit)

A staffer at a major college football program told me Friday that a star football player at his school, who admires Feldman’s professionalism and work ethic, was afraid to publicly support the celebrated college football journalist after his now-public mistreatment by ESPN executives.

The current NCAA student-athlete told the staffer that after learning the details from the media about ESPN’s grossly unfair treatment of Feldman during a Thursday conference call that included ESPN Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria, ESPN THE MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief & ESPN Books Editorial Director Gary Hoenig, ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Pat Stiegman, ESPN attorney Wendy Kemp and ESPN Executive Vice President, Production Norby Williamson, he wanted to send out a Tweet from his personal account in support of the longtime ESPN journalist.

Bruce Feldman Suspended By ESPN executives Gary Hoenig, Pat Stiegman, Vince Doria

(Stiegman ordered Feldman to stop working during conference call)

But the student-athlete never sent out the Tweet.

Why?

The star college football player, who like ESPN THE MAGAZINE’s regular ‘Player X‘ feature shall remain nameless, told the staffer: Read more…

ESPN Threatened Feldman’s Career At Company

Thursday Bruce Feldman was suspended indefinitely by ESPN for his involvement with the new Mike Leach book, Swing Your Sword.

Mike Leach New Book Swing Your Sword: Sales Skyrocketing Thanks To ESPN's Feldman Suspension

(Leach book sales skyrocketed after ESPN suspended Feldman)

During a Thursday conference call that included ESPN Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria, ESPN THE MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief & ESPN Books Editorial Director Gary Hoenig, ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Pat Stiegman, ESPN attorney Wendy Kemp and ESPN Executive Vice President, Production Norby WilliamsonFeldman was asked why he didn’t get approval from anyone at ESPN to work on the Leach book.

Feldman responded by noting that, on the contrary, he had obtained approval to collaborate on the Leach book - in writing - from ESPN Books executive Neil Fine. After Feldman informed the ESPN executives on the conference call that he had indeed observed proper company protocol, he was shamed anyway for his involvement in a project that - via public documents - portrayed ESPN in a negative light. (Documents obtained by Leach’s legal representatives.)

Bruce Feldman Suspended By ESPN executives Gary Hoenig, Pat Stiegman, Vince Doria

(Stiegman ordered Feldman to stop working during conference call)

One ESPN executive, while citing the public blowback from the book, threatened Feldman during the Thursday conference call: “We dont know how this will affect your future here.

Before the call ended, Feldman was told by ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Stiegman that he was to stop working for the company until further notice: “Do not do any work until we tell you to. No tweeting, and no chats.

Indeed, Feldman’s last Tweet was early Wednesday morning and he did not appear for his regularly scheduled 2pm ET ESPN.com chat on Friday.

Following the news  on Thursday that Feldman had been suspended indefinitely by ESPN, a torrential outpouring of support for the writer ensued on social networking sites, with #freebruce and “Bruce Feldman” soon trending on Twitter and Facebook immediately featuring a “Free Bruce Feldman” support group.

In response to the profound, public backlash from its decision to suspended Feldman indefinitely, Friday afternoon ESPN released the following statement pertaining to Feldman’s status at the company:

“There was never any suspension or any other form of disciplinary action. We took the time to review his upcoming work assignments in light of the book to which he contributed and will manage any conflicts or other issues as needed. Bruce has resumed his assignments.”

Though ESPN claimed Feldman was never suspended, the network did not say why the college football writer would then need to - as noted in the ESPN statement - ‘resume his assignments.’

After the statement was released, ESPN Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications Chris LaPlaca sent out the following Tweet:

Love Twitter, but we’ve all just seen its danger: rumor presented as fact. Feldman never suspended

To give LaPlaca a chance to confirm his personal contention that Feldman was “never suspended” by ESPN, I Tweeted the following, repeated inquiry to LaPlaca on Friday afternoon: “Did Pat Stiegman tell Bruce to stop working? Yes or no?

Chris LaPlaca: Bruce Feldman's Duties Were Never Suspended

LaPlaca refused to answer the question. Though he later Tweeted:

Sports analogy: coaches take time outs 2 discuss developments. The game briefly stops but is not suspended. It resumes. Same thing here.

Because, despite repeated inquiries, ESPN’s LaPlaca refused to clarify his contention that Feldman was “never suspended” by the company, it is impossible to conclude that ESPN and LaPlaca aren’t doing anything other than obfuscating the truth of the matter.

Brooks is on Twitter and Facebook

Exclusive: Pearl Endures ESPN Employ Embargo

Terrelle Pryor’s escape from the burning building that is the Ohio State football program straight onto an ESPN set is firmly esconced in the long, illustrious history of unintentionally comedic ESPN programming decisions.

Bruce Pearl

But while Pryor was deified by ESPN mere hours after the extra-beneficiary torched future OSU football fortunes, the same can’t be said for another notorious NCAA arsonist: former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl. Read more…

Franklin ‘High Road’ Is Considerably Less Traveled

On Jan. 6, two days after he was fired by ESPN for making obscene, degrading remarks to ESPN colleague Jeannine Edwards - and then failing to apologize for his admitted indiscretion by ESPN request - Ron Franklin wrote in an email to Richard Sandomir of the NEW YORK TIMES, “I just want this thing to end so we can have our lives back.

Ron Franklin's High Road

(Franklin Austin lawsuit same day as ESPN-TX announcement: Coincidence?)

Franklin’s Jan. 6 lament to the newspaper followed a public apology on Jan. 3 - made through ESPN - in which he admitted, “I said some things I shouldn’t have, and I’m sorry. I deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl.” (Franklin never personally apologized to Edwards, which contributed to his firing.)

Yesterday on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, ESPN and Texas school officials announced a groundbreaking partnership that creates a sports network expressly designed to carry Univ. of Texas sports programming.

On the same day, less than a mile away at the Travis County Courthouse, the attorney for Austin resident and former Texas football and basketball announcer Ron Franklin filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against ESPN on the announcer’s behalf.

Franklin’s lawsuit filing subsequently caused at least one outlet, the New York Times, to juxtapose ESPN’s big announcement about the Texas Network right next to the news of Franklin suing the very same sports network.

Ron Franklin story next to ESPN Texas story in NY Times

(NYT: ESPN-Texas announcement next to Franklin-ESPN lawsuit)

It’s common knowledge at ESPN that Franklin had viewed the ESPN-Texas television endeavor as a possible part of his own, personal active retirement. But thanks to his ouster at the network, not even Franklin’s staunchest allies at the Univ. of Texas were willing to jeopardize the $300 million dollar deal by demanding that the former venerable voice of the Longhorns be included on ESPN Texas Network sports broadcasts.

But why would someone who still makes his home in Austin and was the former sports voice of the Univ. of Texas file a lawsuit against ESPN at a courthouse less than a mile away from campus on the exact day the school proudly announced a landmark broadcasting agreement with the same company?

Read more…

Ron Franklin Flew To Phoenix To Lobby For Job

After ESPN announcer Ron Franklin called ESPN broadcasting colleague Jeannine Edwardssweet baby” and “a–hole during a verbal exchange before the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta last Friday, ESPN management informed Franklin that he would not be working the Fiesta Bowl radio broadcast in Arizona the next night as previously scheduled. (Edwards, who was not the person to report the incident to ESPN officials, was scheduled to work the Fiesta Bowl as well.)

Ed Cunningham and Ron Franklin

(Franklin with former partner Ed Cunningham)

Surprisingly though, Franklin caught a flight to Phoenix anyway.
Read more…

ESPN: Craig James Can Call Big 12 Football In ‘10

If you’re wondering what ESPN is planning to do with Craig James this college football season, it appears we have our answer.

Craig James: ESPN clears him to work Big 12 games in '10

Richard Deitsch of SI.com has a Q & A this week with ESPN’s vice president of production Norby Williamson that illuminates the cable network’s stand on the college football analyst standing accused of unduly influencing the termination of Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach.

Deitsch:

Last month James called the Alabama spring game and remains part of the regular rotation for ESPN’s College Football Live. Williamson told SI.com that he anticipates James will have a “similar schedule” to last year.

I’ve snipped some additional excerpts below from the the interview but I suggest you check out Deitsch’s entire story on the subject. Read more…

ESPN Removes Kornheiser From PTI For 2 Weeks

*UPDATE*: ESPN announced that Tony Kornheiser has been suspended from PTI for two weeks. The statement from ESPN Executive Vice President of Content John Skipper:

“Tony Kornheiser’s comments about Hannah Storm were entirely inappropriate. Hurtful and personal comments such as these are not acceptable and have significant consequences. Tony has been suspended from PTI for two weeks. Hannah is a respected colleague who has been an integral part of the success of our morning SportsCenter.”

Kornheiser’s suspension is in effect for this week and next week.

———————–

ESPN this morning announced that Tony Kornheiser has been suspended from PTI for comments he made last week about Hannah Storm.

Hannah Storm Tony Kornheiser

Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com reports that Kornheiser talked about the suspension on his ESPN Radio show in D.C. today (via Dan Levy):

“As a result of this, I have been sent to sidelines from PTI for a while and when I’m allowed back on PTI, I will happily go back because I love the PTI show and love all the people on the PTI show.

“I’ve said about 1,000 times, while doing radio in my life, the following sentence: if you put a live microphone in front of somebody, eventually, that person will say something wrong. This was one of the times I said something wrong. Beyond that, you can call me and ask me for comment. I’m not going to do it. It seems to me that, without any question, I broke the rules and this is the punishment that’s come.”

Last Friday Kornheiser apologized to Storm for remarks he made about the morning SportsCenter anchor’s clothes. At the time, ESPN Executive VP Norby Williamson said that he was “reviewing” the matter.

Read more…