ESPN’s credibility is going … going …
According to The Smoking Gun, former ESPN analyst Harold Reynolds is suing the media giant for wrongful termination. The terms of the lawsuit, which can be viewed on thesmokinggun.com, make it apparent that there’s something more to the story – but you wouldn’t know from checking ESPN.com. Coverage of the lawsuit on the Web site consists of a story written by the Associated Press, with not so much as a contribution from an ESPN writer or editor.
Reynolds was fired July 24 for a breach of contract, apparently because he gave what he’s termed a “brief and innocuous hug” to a female intern. That evening, the two went out to dinner at a Boston Market. According to the lawsuit, the intern “made no complaint until approximately three weeks later.”
ESPN is often criticized for its coverage, which obviously tends toward spectacle over substance. But silly catch phrases (dare we say, en fuego?) and terrible pun headlines aside (“Big East powers have Tenacious D?”), it’s often hard to argue with claims that ESPN is a hype machine that has too big an impact on the sports it covers (see: Mario Williams). The company, however, maintains its position as an institution in sports journalism. This lawsuit is an opportunity to prove it.
If the New York Times can cover Jayson Blair and Judith Miller, and CBS News can cover its own gaffes, ESPN can – and should – cover Reynolds’ lawsuit. Reynolds’ situation has little to do with ESPN’s credibility, but the network is paying it little attention regardless.
When a former athlete and longtime employee of the largest sports media conglomerate in America sues his former employer for wrongful termination, it’s news.
And when the Smoking Gun scoops ESPN on its own turf, it doesn’t say much for ESPN.