ESPN non-report of Roethlisberger story "embarrassing"

Though we’ve supposedly provided our final word regarding ESPN’s policy regarding the reporting of civil lawsuits not accompanied by criminal charges, we’re still monitoring the reaction to the situation.

John Gonzalez of the Philadelphia Inquirer takes a great look at the situation, including a quote from ESPN vice president and director of news Vince Doria, who confirms that there is no black-and-white rule in these matters, despite an initial (and horribly inept) effort by ESPN to sell the notion that the network was merely adhering to a clear, non-discretionary internal policy.

Doria also told the Wall Street Journal that, in the end, he made the decision to duck the story.

“Those are the things that I think are damaging to reputations, and I think you need to know more about them before you report them,” Doria said. “As it stands right now, today, we don’t think it meets our standard of reporting.”

But did ESPN feel the same way when Mike Fish recently reported the dismissal of a civil lawsuit alleging that Roberto Alomar gave his girlfriend AIDS?  Speaking of Fish, did ESPN consider whether it was “damaging . . . reputations” when Bristol went bonkos for the unsubstantiated (and ultimately retracted) allegation that the Patriots had cheated the Rams out of a Super Bowl win?

Here’s the reality.  Though his motivations are subject to debate and likely will never be known, Doria got it wrong this time.

And plenty of ESPN employees know it.

“People were going insane,” an ESPN source told Gonzalez. “FOX News was doing the story.  The AP had it.  And they wouldn’t even let us mention it.  You can’t ignore the story.  It needs to be on SportsCenter.  It makes us look bad.  It’s not a topic for discussion, but you have to acknowledge that it’s being reported, that the story exists.”

An ESPN source summed it up more succinctly for us:  “This is embarrassing.”

As another person with connections to Bristol explained it, once Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that the league “will look into” the allegations, it became a story that ESPN had no choice to acknowledge.

But they didn’t, and to our knowledge they still haven’t.

Regardless of whether they ever do, has it ever been any more clear that we need a viable, national competitor for the self-described “Worldwide Leader”? 

73 responses to “ESPN non-report of Roethlisberger story "embarrassing"

  1. Regardless of whether they ever do, has it ever been any more clear that we need a viable, national competitor for the self-described “Worldwide Leader”?
    —————————
    I agree, but Fox Sports has failed miserably at it.
    And if NBC’s Sunday night clusterf”*&k, I mean coverage, is any indication of how they might do, then I don’t think ESPN is going to get any real competition in the near future.

  2. welcome to news with an agenda.
    dont think other “sports leaders” dont have agendas too.
    as we can all see here on pft, nbc is gaga over the prospect vick could play this year.

  3. Hey Florio when Big Ben is cleared of any wrong doing you are going to look like a jackass because of all this. Who the hell cares if ESPN doesn’t report it at first? Its obviously been slow for you all week cause she has jumped on this story and rode for all its worth. Get a life.

  4. They also had no problem reporting Chad getting sued by the comedy club a couple years back. That was a civil suit to. ESPN is full of it. I’m glad they are taking heat. They need to be exposed.

  5. Pittsburgh is opening a casino shortly so Big Ben wont have to fly accross the country to rape chicks! Maybe ESPN can report on it then.

  6. The lack of coverage makes people question race, and if this involved Dononvan Mcnabb would they have the same hesitance.
    It’s news, whether it actually happened or not. The fact that the lawsuit is present is a newsworthy item.

  7. Unnamed sources or anonymous sources are good enough to go forward with a story that may be damaging to someone’s reputation, but reporting a civil suit isn’t. Yeah, I’m sure that’s the reason they aren’t reporting it.

  8. I think ESPN may also be behind the Erin Andrews nudie pics, too. They will deny it and blame the employee who did it (they are pretty much confirming it’s an inside ESPN job), and I wouldn’t be surprised if ESPN ordered it to make ESPN more “sexy.”
    As for BenRoth, this woman is a nutso Ravens fan. The only way to stop the Steelers is to sue every one of them, apparently.

  9. The “worldwide leader” is their slogan, it’s not something that people actually believe, Florio. Do you really think people only watch ESPN? And that they trust ESPN?

  10. Wallow in it Florio, wallow in it. Of course ESPN will continue to ignore this because only a very few are making a big deal of it.
    Regardless of whether they ever do, has it ever been any more clear that we need a viable, national competitor for the self-described “Worldwide Leader”?
    As far as NFL news, it won’t be this site. While better than ESPN, your bias and personal agendas render this site interesting and informative, but ultimately it’s too one-sided for creditability. But “Lord Favre” does salute you.

  11. “did ESPN consider whether it was “damaging . . . reputations” when Bristol went bonkos for the unsubstantiated (and ultimately retracted) allegation that the Patriots had cheated the Rams out of a Super Bowl win?”
    .
    .
    Obviously not, as evidenced by the amount of ignoramouses (is that a word?) who still use that fictitious walk through tape story as ammunition against the Patriots.
    The longer ESPN censors this story, the more disgraceful they appear and the more they damage their (remaining) credibility in the long term.

  12. That’s just what we need, more channels on TV reporting the same 4 sports stories over and over and over and over… and over, just so they can compete with ESPN.

  13. Cleveland Sucks aka Philly Sewer Rat says:
    Hey Florio when Big Ben is cleared of any wrong doing you are going to look like a jackass because of all this. Who the hell cares if ESPN doesn’t report it at first? Its obviously been slow for you all week cause she has jumped on this story and rode for all its worth. Get a life.
    ^^^^^
    You are an idiot. I doubt their was any wrong doing as well, but the fact remains that it is NEWS and ESPN is consciously not reporting it, even though every other outlet is.
    But you and other Steelers fans are the first to call Tom Brady a deadbeat dad for having consentual sex with his girlfriend and producing a child which he supports. Hypocrites, all of you. You make me sick.

  14. Especially considering their title also includes the word “entertainment”, which I happen to think SHOULD include “stories about rape” (made up or otherwise).
    (Yeah, I’m wrong like that).
    Plus, if they can cover hot dog eating contests, spelling bees, poker, women’s softball & volleyball, strong man competitions, et cetera–then why NOT a little (alleged) “TV repair” affair?
    And I agree sports needs some viable alternative to ESPN, something a bit less trendy, biased, one-note, and without all the obnoxious yammering a-holes with their trendy catchphrases (“that’s what she said”) and without all the frivolous bells and whistles and such…
    But you’ve also now you’ve played your sanctimonious journalistic responsibility card a trillion times, MoFlo–it’s time to let it rest.
    This (proverbial) horse is now way past dead and into full-blown decomposition, and you’ve gone from just beating it to actually raping it.

  15. If the story had a Raider involved BSPN would be all over it everyone knows BSPN has no credibility just look at who is working for them( Chris Carter ) what a joke.

  16. I now know more details about why ESPN isn’t running this story than I know about the actual story.

  17. The Big Ben story has taken the news world by storm, yet no mention on ESPN. The iPhone has taken the world by storm, yet no mention on PFT.
    If ESPN assigns someone to report it, they are no doubt bound by some form of journalistic integrity to follow the story accurately and unbiased. If they do not report anything, they elect to simply not follow the story…nothing in the rules of journalism force them to cover it.
    Now that being said, ESPN has a product beyond sports news – they have an entertainment business. You can bet your britches that if Ryan Seacrest was implicated in something shady you would not see a report on the local news leading into American Idol. Same goes for Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann, etc. on their respective networks.
    So in short, it’s laughable how they are avoiding it, but at least they are staying silent because any mention of it would no doubt quickly get sugar-coated to protect the millions of dollars already invested in the upcoming show with Shaq and Ben. I therefore can’t blame them. That’s why we have multiple outlets for news.
    But it is another black eye exposing the overblown giant for what it really is.

  18. “As far as NFL news, it won’t be this site. While better than ESPN, your bias and personal agendas render this site interesting and informative, but ultimately it’s too one-sided for creditability.”
    ZombieRevolution hits the nail on the head again.

  19. I think NBC has made a nice start with the acquisition of PFT, CFT, and some of my favorite writers such as Tom Curran. Maybe the could parent the knew leader with sites like yours at the core or as the blueprint. I mean really add a nice frontpage to jump off which with a nice acronym and lets do this.

  20. “Woman intends to sue Brown
    Los Angeles Lakers point guard Shannon Brown has been notified of an intent to sue him in civil court for an alleged sex-related incident with a woman in Denver, Brown’s agent, Mark Bartelstein confirmed to ESPN’s Shelley Smith on Sunday.
    Bartelstein said the suit stems from an incident when Brown was playing for the Charlotte Bobcats, who played in Denver on Jan. 30. Brown was traded to the Lakers on Feb. 7.
    Bartelstein said that within 24-48 hours after the woman filed a police report, Denver police fully investigated her claims. A Denver police spokesman told ESPN.com on Monday that the police sent their findings to the district attorney, who declined to pursue the matter further.
    Bartelstein said the Bobcats were told immediately of the incident and team security staff conducted its own investigation and “came to the same conclusion.” In addition, he said Brown also hired a private investigator to look into the woman’s claims “to know all the facts.”
    “There was absolutely nothing to it,” Bartelstein said. “I find it very interesting all of a sudden Shannon Brown has some success and someone decides to sue him civilly. People can draw their own conclusions. I stand by Shannon Brown. Everything Shannon has said to me as to what happened, the prosecutor verifies.”
    Under Colorado law, a plaintiff is urged to file an intent to sue and has two years to actually file the suit against an alleged assailant.
    Bartelstein said he and Brown first learned of the civil suit when Brown was served papers in Denver on Friday as the Lakers closed out the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
    “The truth is going to come out. I didn’t do nothing. I’m innocent and we’re just going to let it takes its course,” Brown said.
    The Lakers were not told about the alleged incident during trade talks in February, Bartelstein said, because police never pursued it and they considered it a “nonissue.”
    Lakers vice president of public relations John Black confirmed that papers were served and said the Lakers consider this a “private legal matter” and would not comment.
    Brown averaged 3.2 points per game in 18 regular-season games with the Lakers. He added 1.1 rebounds per game and 0.6 assists. He shot 52.4 percent on field goals; 66.7 percent from the 3-point line.
    In the playoffs, Brown has averaged 5.7 points per game with 1.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists.”
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/news/story?id=4219580
    From, the Worldwide Leader, a story about someone that didn’t even file the lawsuit at that time, yet, it was reported. And this is Shannon Brown, a relative bench warmer for the Lakers.

  21. PFT could easily have a TV show similar to TMZ. That’s basically what this site is, TMZ with athletes instead of celebrities. Use your new friends at NBC to hook you up and call it ProSportsTalk. Winner.

  22. If this was Jamarcus Russell, ESPN would be all over this story. He cant even have a drink without them bashing him. ESPN true bitches.

  23. Glad every news outlet in Philly thinks this is a huge story thanks to Florio’s over-reaction. I love that you can rely on the usual chain of communication between the Philly homers.
    PFT posts an article about ESPN missing out so who sees this? Howard Eskin who is getting killed in the ratings by Mikey Miss up the dial on ESPN radio. Howard has his buddy Mike Florio call in and talk about this “outrageous” matter combining the two things Eskin hates the most- ESPN and the Steelers. Then the Philly inquirer picks it up and runs with it dragging the “story” into today and for some reason Florio re-posts another story linked to the inquirer story.
    Florio, you want to speak about agendas, don’t act like every article you write has been about the actual assault charges. You posted one article stating what happened, which from what I can tell was pretty much bits and pieces of stories from yahoo, foxsports, and ap articles that you cut and pasted together. Then you went on an 11 post rampage against ESPN.
    Just get back to reporting news and rumors, that’s all people want out of this site.

  24. Is FoxSports not competing well with ESPN? Or are they not considered national because they also include regional stuff? I don’t follow ratings so I don’t know the answer to this.

  25. They reported on the Mark Cuban suit, right? That was a civil suit, not a criminal one, and I seem to remember them covering that story.

  26. This whole “ESPN will continue to ignore this because only a very few are making a big deal of it” stuff is just way off base.
    CNN has a link to the Sports Illustrated Article. The Associated Press has written a huge story on this. CBS, NBC, etc. It’s being reported by legitimate news organizations throughout the country.
    ESPN has said it has a policy against this type of stuff, but it didn’t seem to prevent them from filing a story on the Marvin Harrison civil suit, the Reggie Bush civil suit, the Roberto Alomar suit, the Pacman Jones civil suits. There have been several suits that have resulted in completely false claims, but they were reported nevertheless. There is a double standard going on and that is bad for journalism.
    The Big Ben civil suit is no different.. The only difference is that ESPN has chosen not to report it.

  27. ESPN jumped the shark back in the late 90’s and has become more and more of a joke ever since. The only stories they ever go after with a negative slant are high schools and small town colleges because they have no power to fight back…i.e. not grant post game interviews, contract with other networks, etc. Whenever they do get cornered into having to cover a negative topic on a big name star, they completely skirt the issue, such as the T.O interview with Michael Irvin. Comcast Sportsnet does outstanding local coverage in their markets, hopefully they can eventually expand to something national to take on ESPN on a larger scale.

  28. ESPN didn’t need to ignore this story to look bad, they’ve been doing that for years. Poor journalistic standards is not something that just started last week in Bristol, CT.

  29. If this case was about Tom Brady, then ESPN would have started a new channel in order to provide full 24/7 coverage – ESPN: Law & Order with Nancy Grace…
    But everybody knows the Steelers have ESPN and the NFL in their back pockets… small wonder they have blacked out the story so far.

  30. “your bias and personal agendas render this site interesting and informative, but ultimately it’s too one-sided for creditability.”
    You know, you could be saying the same about ESPN. But you’re right, there’s a lot of bias on PFT as well.

  31. Big Ben and everyone else will hunker down at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh only if they like slots. No table games in PA, which obviously sucks. So I’d say the (alleged) Stiller Rapist probably will still be seeking adventures elsewhere.

  32. I am SO glad that the rest of the world is finally waking up to what many of us have known for years, which is that ESPN represents all that is evil in sports media coverage today.
    Florio, keep these stories and analysis coming. I wouldn’t expect a brain-dead jackass like the Sewer Rat to have any understanding of the significance of these events.
    Whether or not Ben did it is COMPLETELY irrelevant. Hey Sewer Rat, shut up. Adults are talking here.

  33. You appear to be losing it Florio.
    It’s bad enough when you realize you’ve made enough posts about something that you even feel the need to anoint a particular post as a “last word” post.
    But then to make yet another post after that is a clear sign that you need to chill.
    Even though you do have a point, your making yourself look more than a little silly carrying on this way.

  34. Actually it does appear on ESPN’s website, though itn takes some digging.
    This blurb appeared tuesday July 21st:
    FILE — This is a July 15, 2009, file photo showing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger arriving at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault
    http://search.espn.go.com/roethlisberger/

  35. ESPN reported on Shannon Brown’s civil suit and now they don’t.. ESPN remember this? They are full of it up in Bristol. Could this be about race? hmmmmmm
    Updated: June 3, 2009, 10:24 PM ET
    Woman intends to sue Brown
    ESPN.com news services
    Los Angeles Lakers point guard Shannon Brown has been notified of an intent to sue him in civil court for an alleged sex-related incident with a woman in Denver, Brown’s agent, Mark Bartelstein confirmed to ESPN’s Shelley Smith on Sunday.
    Bartelstein said the suit stems from an incident when Brown was playing for the Charlotte Bobcats, who played in Denver on Jan. 30. Brown was traded to the Lakers on Feb. 7.
    Bartelstein said that within 24-48 hours after the woman filed a police report, Denver police fully investigated her claims. A Denver police spokesman told ESPN.com on Monday that the police sent their findings to the district attorney, who declined to pursue the matter further.
    Bartelstein said the Bobcats were told immediately of the incident and team security staff conducted its own investigation and “came to the same conclusion.” In addition, he said Brown also hired a private investigator to look into the woman’s claims “to know all the facts.”
    “There was absolutely nothing to it,” Bartelstein said. “I find it very interesting all of a sudden Shannon Brown has some success and someone decides to sue him civilly. People can draw their own conclusions. I stand by Shannon Brown. Everything Shannon has said to me as to what happened, the prosecutor verifies.”

  36. Maybe Florio should create a list of news channels and websites that ARE reporting this
    AP – which means every newspaper has picked it up
    NBC
    CBS
    FOX
    SI.COM/CNN
    etc., etc. etc

  37. I would understand if there was a rumor that a suit had been filed, but my understanding is that the suit was absolutely filed. To a previous poster, whether Ben is cleared or not is completely irrelevant. When was the last time espn did not report on a case until it had been resolved? I clearly remember Randy Moss’s restraining order incident last year, and ESPN had no problem reporting it. Months later, the order was dropped.

  38. ESPN lacks the personalities they once had, sportcenter is unwatchable, espn radio–same
    their product is too glossy, with no substance. Thank god for PFT!

  39. Love how Steelers’ fans just write this off as a nothing story when where know where near a conclusion.
    Just because BigBen plays for your team doesn’t mean he is obviously innocent, just like if someone doesn’t play for your team make it now a valid story.
    Lets just see how it plays-out before you condemn sports writers for reporting news, weather its news you want to hear or not.

  40. Thank God I didn’t have to sit through ESPN making a story out of a “non-story”. I don’t know whose nuttier, the athletes who are used to having women with no self respect who throw themselves at them or the women who throw themselves at celebrities and or athletes!

  41. Not to worry Pissburgh fans, I am clearly innocent, because I have no interest in women. I simply thought she was a drag queen, it was a simple case of mistaken identity

  42. ESPN non-report of Roethlisberger story “embarrassing”
    ESPN is simply embarrassing…

  43. “Regardless of whether they ever do, has it ever been any more clear that we need a viable, national competitor for the self-described ‘Worldwide Leader’?”
    Amen.

  44. ESPN can’t report the story.
    They have all 100 NFL reporters camped out in front of BF’s Hattiesburg compound awaiting Favre’s latest bowel movement, er… I mean comment.

  45. ESPN won’t cover this story, but on The Herd this morning they had no problem discussing Tony Romo’s breakup with Jessica Simpson quoting People magazine.
    ESPN get your head out of your arse.

  46. Doria is lucky to have that job. He was in the right place at the right time when he managed the sports section. He had writers like Wil McDonough, Bob Ryan, and Peter Gammons. Hard to have a bad sports section with that lineup and he parlayed that into this gig at the ESPN and turns out a shitty product.

  47. It’s interesting to note in the AFC North blog on ESPN, in the comment sections, readers mention it a lot. So they aren’t deleting comments, yet.

  48. But it is okay for them to parade Ed Werder around the Dallas facilities and let the guy say whatever he wants as long as he has an “anonymous” source to quote? They can throw Mark Schlereth and his “NFL is a priviledge garbage” or any other NFL “Analyst” out there and have them smear any player they want, but they can’t report a real story?
    ESPiN is a joke. We all know it. And it’s about time others realize it too.

  49. anybody remember NewSport? it lasted for like 6 months when i lived in Florida.
    it sucked.

  50. “Who the hell cares if ESPN doesn’t report it at first?” Dude….seriously, quarterback of the world champs…non-stop sports network….Helloooooo !!! True or not…it’s still sports news, they could have even briefly mentioned that she filed the suit and Ben denies it..reported…done !! And a sports network doen;t get scooped by Access Hollywood !! To act as if it doesn’t exist is broadcasting suicide especially when they have reported a million other similar stories in the past. maybe its simple…Doria’s a Steelers fan !

  51. I don’t think it’s embarassing.
    The sports networks are supposed to cover sports. The legal issues are none of their business.
    The pro athletes and celebrities who can’t manage to be model citizens and find themselves on the wrong side of the law on a routine basis are the ones who should be embarassed.
    ESPN’s purpose is to cover sports. It’s not Law and Order or Perry Mason. Fans don’t tune into ESPN, FOX Sports, the NFL Network, etc. to hear about the legal issues of Michael Vick, O.J. Simpson, Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson, Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, etc. Fans don’t tune in to hear about grown men behaving like children like Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson (Ocho Irrelevent), etc. They tune in for sports news and information.

  52. We can get 24/7 coverage of a guy who has been out of the NFL for 2 seasons, or a diva QB who retires every year?
    But a civil suit brought against the Super Bowl winning QB is not newsworthy?
    Amazing.

  53. Hey, ESPN canceled the ESPN run press conference for Roethlisberger to promote Shaq’s reality show? No other news source canceled their press conference with Roethlisberger to promote their reality show. What do you want from them?

  54. BTW, if Goodell immediately suspends Roethlisberger before the trial, will ESPN say that he is inactive for the games he is suspended for unknown reasons? Their hypocrisy is ridiculous.
    Seriously, when even non-sports news sites are covering the story, it has crossed the line between judgement call and a must report story.

  55. mmmaverick, while I agree with you 100% that no one should care about what these guys do off of the field and these guys shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than any other person, ESPN has set the precedent that it will report on stories that have nothing to do with their on-field exploits, and, quite frankly, have almost single-handedly created the interest that the public has with what these people do in their everyday lives but sensationalizing it and villifying some while turning a blind eye on others.

  56. You can bet that whenever ESPN finally does decide to report on the story, they’ll do so as follows:
    BREAKING NEWS: ESPN.com’s Ed Werder reports that Pitssburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger faces civil lawsuit for sexual misconduct.

  57. ESPN damn well should be embarrassed. They are the only major media outlet that hasn’t reported on it. Just this morning CNNSI.com ran a full blown item including all of the same points you reported late last night. Bunch of fargin hypocrites.
    In my opinion, tWWL almost had a type of fiduciary responsibility to report what happened. They’ve run roughshod over numerous athletes involved in high profile civil cases in the past and the one that sticks in my mind the most is their coverage of the Kobe Bryant case. They were all over every salacious detail of that one. This just smacks of a huge double standard. No wonder I haven’t watched anything they televise except Monday Night Football.

  58. Wow.
    Chris Berman is over the hill.
    Olbermann turned into a kook politico.
    Now this.
    They just suck.

  59. it is actually refreshing that a multi billion dollar business stepped on thier own toes for the sake of a mans reputation. Do any of us actually know what privacy is anymore? Innocent UNTIL PROVEN guilty…then it’s a story.
    Go Bears

  60. The Steelers are a bunch of cheating, drugged up, sexually assaulting, casino owning hooligans.
    SEXGATE is just another ugly chapter of their existence.

  61. tj.52 says:
    July 22, 2009 6:15 PM
    The Steelers are a bunch of cheating, drugged up, sexually assaulting, casino owning hooligans.
    SEXGATE is just another ugly chapter of their existence.
    _____________________
    Patriots:
    loss of 1st round draft pick – check!
    convicted drug dealing tackle – check!
    Has HGH sent to the house – check!
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think facts are a lot more fun. This is an obviously disturbed young lady. Does that make what she’s saying inherently untrue? No, but I think I’ll wait to pass judgement until the facts come out. Until something other than an unsubstantiated allegation comes in, he’s still innocent. There’s no indictment. There’s no conviction. There’s only someone saying something you desperately want to be true. If he did it- he’s a bum and I’ll cut him no quarter. If that’s being a Steeler homer, than I’m a homer.

  62. there’s a double standard, same reason NBA looked the other way re: carmello anthonys pot bust.
    step 1: figure it out
    step 2: accept it
    come on florio get with the program.

  63. Kidekk says:
    July 22, 2009 3:09 PM
    mmmaverick, while I agree with you 100% that no one should care about what these guys do off of the field and these guys shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than any other person, ESPN has set the precedent that it will report on stories that have nothing to do with their on-field exploits, and, quite frankly, have almost single-handedly created the interest that the public has with what these people do in their everyday lives but sensationalizing it and villifying some while turning a blind eye on others.
    —————————————————————-
    The regular news broadcasts can cover the crimes and legal issues. When ESPN, and other sports networks start broadcasting like Court TV, I turn the channel.

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