When it became clear that the Ron Borges article regarding a possible Tom Brady showdown over “up-front money” with the Patriots arose from phony text messages, the Boston Herald quickly expunged the story from the Internet. But that was too late to remove it from the print version of the newspaper, where the headline blared on the back cover of the Friday edition.
Ten years ago, the Herald handled things far differently after the so-called Spygate II story. When challenged aggressively by the Patriots for reporting that the team had secretly videotaped the Rams’ final walk-through practice before Super Bowl XXXVI, and one day after former Patriots employee Matt Walsh told Commissioner Roger Goodell it never happened, the Herald prominently apologized on the front and back cover of the newspaper.
The current apology clearly falls short; plenty of readers don’t follow minute-by-minute developments online. Many may never even notice the apology, and they may never see or hear that the whole thing was phony.
Of course, they may start to wonder what happened to Borges, if his suspension lasts more than a few days. Or if the suspension becomes the first step toward termination.
The broader question becomes whether others within the organization will face scrutiny for allowing the Borges story to be posted, based on logical and contextual curiosities in the report (e.g., few in the NFL business ever use the term “up-front money,” and Borges apparently did nothing to obtain specifics regarding the money Brady wants) and the history and reputation of Borges, who left the Boston Globe over plagiarism allegations in 2007. Borges also is perceived by some in NFL circles as having an agenda against the Patriots, making him more likely to rush to write anything/everything that puts the team in a negative light.
The entire situation puts the Herald in a negative light, and the manner in which it handles this obvious gaffe surely will affect the manner in which future reports from the publication are given credence.