Daily News circles wagons, turns tables

The bizarre case of a 13-year-old legal document from a 14-year-old lawsuit over a 15-year-old book that cited 20-year-old allegations against a then-19-year-old continues to spark a wide variety of skirmishes and debates over issues unrelated to the merits of the case. That’s probably because it’s currently impossible to resolve the merits of the case, because all cases arising from whatever Peyton Manning did to Jamie Naughright in 1996 and thereafter were resolved long ago.

But even the fact that all claims were settled gets filtered through the perspectives of those with a predetermined point of view regarding the situation. Anyone inclined to believe the worst about Manning will say the settlements show he was guilty. Anyone inclined to believe that the claims made by Naughright were exaggerated or fabricated will say she settled in lieu of letting a jury scrutinize her words and demeanor and in turn determine whether she was telling the truth.

Today’s social-media/talk-radio hot-take blast furnace abhors a vacuum. It’s not nearly enough for someone to objectively report both sides without bias and then allow the reader to reach his or her own conclusions. Everyone writing the words and reading them must have an opinion, and any new facts or developments or allegations will prompt not an honest, square-one reconsideration of pre-existing views but a funneling of the fresh information through cured-concrete beliefs to which everyone already has decided to cling.

In this case, it happened from the moment Shaun King of the New York Daily News received a 74-page document written by Naughright’s lawyers in an effort to beat Peyton and Archie Manning in court, fundamentally misunderstood (deliberately or not) the nature and purpose of the document, failed to do any additional reporting (including seeking comment from Manning or his lawyers), and fashioned a #longread that accepted every allegation in the 74-page document as true and summarized it like a 10th grader scribbling out a connect-the-dots book report.

King’s own perspective was that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had been receiving unfair criticism for his behavior during and after Super Bowl 50. So King, apparently believing the criticism of Newton was motivated by race, opted to open an outdated can of worms regarding a prominent white quarterback.

In the absence of any mechanism for resolving the cracked and yellowed he-said/she-said, King opened the door to fair criticism of the manner in which he clumsily set the agenda, misleading those already predisposed to presume Peyton Manning’s guilt. Some (like PFT) opted to explain what the document is and what is isn’t, allowing for a more complete assessment of the situation. As to those who already concluded based on King’s one-sided narrative that Manning “sexually assaulted” Naughright, however, any effort to explain the circumstances in a measured, objective way was viewed as an effort to protect Manning.

Then came King’s follow-up article on Monday, in which he defended himself against critics, doubling down with an erroneous explanation of the legal posture of the case by writing that a judge had affirmatively found “clear and convincing evidence” that Peyton and Archie Manning acted with malice toward Naughright. King and his editors failed to realize the fundamental mistake he had made when Monday’s article was published, and they apparently have chosen to do nothing to acknowledge the misstatement or to repair it. (In an interview on CBS Sports Radio, King has conceded that he possibly misunderstood the judge’s words, but King consistently — and somewhat amazingly — has said that he has not read any of the articles criticizing his work. As of this posting, the Monday article still has not been revised to correct King’s obvious mistake.)

Now comes an item from Chuck Modiano of the New York Daily News accusing those who have criticized the prior work of his colleague as a “Kill-the-Messenger” play orchestrated by “Peyton Manning and his machine.” Modiano supports his argument with no hard facts to show, for example, that P.R. wraith Ari Fleischer or anyone else working on Manning’s behalf has been lobbying people like Clay Travis or Jason Whitlock (or me) with talking points or other messages aimed at shaping the narrative.

Which perhaps means that the Peyton Manning machine runs so smoothly and efficiently that it doesn’t even need an on/off switch.

Modiano launches his column by suggesting that the Manning machine targeted Al Jazeera generally in response to the HGH report and King individually in response to the document he published. While Manning (and some in the media) aggressively lashed out at the Al Jazeera report, plenty of items were published in the aftermath of the HGH report pointing out the flaws in Manning’s argument, and the gaping hole in his story that came from the refusal to disclose facts about treatment his wife received. PFT ultimately explained that Manning and his wife have the ability to empower the NFL to conduct a full and complete investigation by authorizing the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis to produce to the league’s investigators all documents and other information regarding the treatment they received; that suggestion was anything but a product of “Peyton Manning and his machine.”

The HGH allegations present a situation conducive to a real and meaningful investigation, whether by the NFL or by the media. Indeed, the Washington Post has painted a damning picture of Manning’s efforts (through his investigators) to arguably intimidate Charles Sly into recanting the things he said while being secretly recorded by Al Jazeera — even though he reportedly didn’t know what he was recanting when he recanted.

In this case, Modiano chastises the national media (other than USA Today) for failing to do or say more in response to information published in 2003 about the Naughright case. To the extent that Modiano’s own publication has a national profile, why didn’t the Daily News say more (or, you know, anything) about the situation when the story first surfaced? Why didn’t Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, who wrote on Tuesday a column suggesting that, if Peyton Manning is lying about anything that he did to Naughright he could be lying about not using HGH, not even make a single mention of the Naughright litigation in his recently-published 254-page joint biography of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady?

The most troubling aspect of Modiano’s column comes near the bottom, when he writes these words: “In exactly what sports media universe has a law degree or Ph.D. from Columbia School of Journalism ever been needed for journalists to render an opinion of assumed guilt? . . . ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is a legal standard, not the bar to hold an educated opinion.”

The key word there is “educated.” The people responsible for shaping public opinion shouldn’t adopt their own opinions in the same incomplete, haphazard way that non-journalists do. Journalists are supposed to consider both sides before forming opinions. And while columnists are paid to express their own opinions, those opinions need to be rooted in a fair and knowledgeable consideration of the facts, along with a basic understanding of what is and isn’t proven fact.

As the media continues to change to better meet the demands of the modern consumer, the media can’t adopt the mindset of the modern consumer. Modiano seems to believe that, in the court of public opinion, writers and reporters are fellow members of the jury. If that attitude reflects the culture of the New York Daily News, I finally understand why King handled this situation the way he did.

45 responses to “Daily News circles wagons, turns tables

  1. There are some key “facts” that are always left out about this case.

    1. The original lawsuit was not against Peyton Manning… it was against Tennessee.

    2. This woman made 32 claims of sexual harassment… and Peyton Manning was 1 of them.

    3. Tennessee paid her $300,000 to settle all the claims, not Peyton Manning.

    I don’t know if she made everything or somethings up, but 32 claims of sexual harassment is pretty intense and I’m not sure why she would have stayed working there if it was that bad. You can leave the company AND sue for a hostile work environment.

    Also, I don’t understand what people think the Mannings can do to “shut up” the media. There was a writer of an article that was written in 2003 about this and she said she wrote the story and it never gained any traction. She said no one in the Manning family had contacted her about it, and no one within her newspaper asked her to stop writing about it.

    What do people think Archie did?? Show up with a bat at her house and tell her she’d better stop writing about his son? Has ANYONE in the media given any example of what exactly the Mannings did, or could have done to “sweep this under the rug”??? Where there hired goons involved? I just don’t get it. If it were that easy, then Barry Bonds, Greg Hardy, Tom Brady and many more could apparently have just avoided controversy by getting Archie Manning on the case?? That’s just ridiculous.

  2. By doubling down on this garbage, the New York Daily News continues to marginalize itself. It should change it’s name to Pravda

  3. Like most print media, the N.Y. Daily News is not doing well financially these days. In fact, it recently laid off some of its best writers (Bill Madden, Dave Hinckley, Hank Gola etc.).

    The paper has taken a definite bizarre sensationalist turn and goes on all-out crusades in which its writers abandon all pretense of objectivity and fairness. When it goes after someone, it goes all out. Peyton Manning is now in its cross-hairs.

    It’s sad because for many years, the Daily News had the best and most reliable sports section in New York City. I’m afraid those days are over.

  4. Well said, Mike. The 24 hr news cycle is such a gigantic detriment to this country it makes me sick. The amount of information that is falsely reported, before all of the facts are known for the sake of “clicks,” and traffic is absolutely disgusting.

  5. Great article that won’t be read by the people that need to read it! Love PFT because Florio is logical.

  6. Gotta admit – this is some damn fine, fair and balanced writing by PFT and you, Florio. And I still hate the Broncos and the Patriots.
    So… kudos.
    Can’t believe I just wrote that, but it’s 100% the truth.

  7. I love that everyone makes this a race issue… The “if Manning were black” arguments are ridiculous. Want an example? Here’s one:

    There were black athletes named in the HGH accusations by Al Jazeria… Name one of them.

    That’s right, you can’t! Because the ONLY one that has been talked about has been the WHITE star QB.

    But don’t let that stop you from playing the race card…

  8. Great article Florio, you are one of the few (if not the only) journalists that is staying neutral and logical throughout this madness. I remember last year when the Patriots and Tom Brady were being railroaded by the NFL and the media machine (leaded by ESPN) using only one sided argument (Wells report), yet you stood strong not defending Brady and the Patriots, but defending the true. Ironically, I remember that Pats fans (with valid reasons) were claiming a witch hunt last year, yet this year they are the ones in front leading the mob with pitchforks now. Keep the good work Florio.

  9. That is excellently written, Mike. Regardless of what you “believe” this article is very accurate regarding the hand-wringing that is going on. Great job.

  10. The idea of the media needing to take a long hard look in the mirror is LONG overdue. Especially after watching the entirety of the media frenzy created by Chris Mortenson’s “scoop”, and the industry wide negligence with respect to correcting any of the errors. In the absence of any ethical behavior from within sports media in general, I sent a formal inquiry across the ESPN website directed to the ESPN Legal Staff asking why ESPN (not Mortenson) had not publicly admonished the NFL for using ESPN to release false information. The following day Mortenson’s tweets were deleted. It’s rare that anyone in the media calls out anyone else. Thanks for starting what would hope to be a new trend.

  11. Such civilized comments.

    Proving that the nuances here are too much for the avg PFT reader.

    Good job Mike

  12. Great article but the fact remains Manning is a sexual predator and should have done prison time for what he did.

  13. Mike – you should think about everything you just wrote next time you write a click-bait article about the N.Y. Jets based upon reports you get from Manish Mehta and Gary Myers from that same NY Daily News.

  14. The lightning rod nature of this story is amazing. Seems everyone has an opinion. Please allow me to add to two more cents to the burgeoning till.

    I completely agree that the Daily News articles are one-sided and posted by folks with agendas. King, perversely, believes he is defending Cam Newton. Modiano may be doing nothing more than protecting a colleague. Add Broncos, Panthers, Colts and oddly, Patriots fans into this swelling mix and it’s quite a crowd, pushing and pulling the issue into shapes that are starting to look very little like the actual story.

    So what is the actual story? Well, if nothing else, we know without fear of contradiction that a) Manning did something immoral, ill-advised or downright illegal to Naughright, b) witnesses, included Manning’s fellow athletes, have tended to back up her version rather than his and c) rather than apologize, Manning and his father assailed her with slurs, including accusations that, God forbid, she socialized with black athletes.

    And for the record, I write “without fear of contradiction” with some confidence. Mike was completely correct in stating that the “Facts of the Case” document is a subjective, rather than objective, piece of legal writing. But that is not to say it is pure fancy, either. As Mike no doubt knows, counsel must, to the best of their ability and following reasonable investigation, present the facts in the light most favorable to their client. But that does not mean they are allowed to lie. Such actions would put not just the client, but the attorneys– and possibly their livelihood– in jeopardy.

    So do I also have an agenda? Sure. I want to make sure the rightful analysis of agenda-driven reporting doesn’t obscure the story itself. Believe it or not, I was a big Manning fan until a few days ago. But despite the fact that I read and write about football almost incessantly, I had either never heard of– or did not remember– these events. And for me, as bad as Manning’s actions were (and we apparently don’t even know the worst, thanks to his lawyers), the callous Manning family follow-up was even worse.

    Bottom line: the notion that we are being assailed by agenda-driven reporting and the fact that Manning behaved horribly are not mutually exclusive. It seems we’re talking more about the smoke these days than the fire.

  15. Manning had to pay her 3 separate times! 3 times!
    Once for the incident. Once because the Mannings tried to defame her in their book and classy Archie Manning said she “had been out with a lot of black guys.” WTF?
    Then once again when Peyton breached their settlement and attacked her on an ESPN documentary in 2005!

    3 times Manning had to pay her!

    Sure, the first time Manning was a dumb privileged athlete kid and made a dumb mistake, but the 2 additional settlements show a classless father and son that still refuse to take ownership of a mistake and try to blame shift to the victim and try to discredit her.

    As the only witness to the incident, Malcolm Saxon letter also speaks volumes. In it, he refutes Peyton’s version of the story, and implores Peyton to take responsibility for his actions.

    With the new HGH allegations, and the way Manning handled those- sending 2 goons to visit the elderly parents of the person that claimed he supplied Manning, intimidating them enough that they called 911, revisiting these incidents is completely fair.
    That is, up to the point where they shift the focus off the current HGH allegations. Don’t forget about those while this is being held up like a shiny object to distract you (is the media getting played here? )

    Either way, Mannings actions come off as disgusting

  16. >>>”Journalists are supposed to consider both sides before forming opinions.”

    With all due respect to your excellent and fair writing, journalists are supposed to *present* both sides and let the reader form their own opinion.

  17. Ok, so u are saying maybe he didn’t actually teabag her, but taking down his shorts and waving his junk in front of her face is OK. Than there is tha little matter ago Archie and his boys defaming her, saying lots of nasty stuff including the nugget that she likes to sleep with all the black players. I don’t care if this happened 20 years ago, speaks to the morally corrupt people Payton, and his father are.

  18. Maybe Jamie can join the military, sell out her country, and then get the taxpayers to fund a gender change. Oh, wait, been there, done that. But the last name is fitting —- Manning

  19. The mooning/assault story has been out there for a long time. The daily news article added nothing to the story. Also, whatever happened to the supposed bomb shell he was going to drop about the earlier incident? Nothing? Yeah, not surprised.

    That said, on the HGH thing, manning already sent his clean up crew (“investigators”) to the Guyer institute, so we can safely say that there isn’t any evidence to be found.

  20. Isn’t The NY Daily News like a regional version of The National Enquirer anyway. Who cares what this hack says. He obviously has zero journalistic integrity.

  21. Last year Florio had similar things to say in regard to deflated footballs. Telling everyone to pump the brakes, and punching gigantic holes into the accusations. Florio has been proven right, regardless of whether you want to admit it or not. All we read from the haters was that Florio loves the Patriots, ProPatriotsTalk.com, etc etc etc.

    Now, Florio writes in favor of not jumping the gun on Manning, and all of a sudden Florio is a smart writer, and were all glad we have unbiased commentary from people like Florio.

    You people are pathetic. Florio is always the least biased guy in all of the media, I wouldn’t say that about some of the writers on this site, but Florio is consistent. The irony is that all of you Florio flip floppers are the ones that love to claim the Patriots fans are flip floppers. Classic.

  22. Last year Florio had similar things to say in regard to deflated footballs. Telling everyone to pump the brakes, and punching gigantic holes into the accusations. Florio has been proven right, regardless of whether you want to admit it or not. All we read from the haters was that Florio loves the Patriots, ProPatriotsTalk.com, etc etc etc.

    Now, Florio writes in favor of not jumping the gun on Manning, and all of a sudden Florio is a smart writer, and were all glad we have unbiased commentary from people like Florio.

    You people are pathetic. Florio is always the least biased guy in all of the media, I wouldn’t say that about some of the writers on this site, but Florio is consistent. The irony is that all of you Florio flip floppers are the ones that love to claim the Patriots fans are flip floppers. Classic. So Florio pumping the brakes on Manning = good writing, Florio pumping the brakes on Brady = Florio is a Patriots jock sniffing homer. Got it.

  23. patriotdynasty5 says:
    Feb 19, 2016 12:29 AM
    Great article but the fact remains Manning is a sexual predator and should have done prison time for what he did.
    Except the “victim” chose to get paid instead. Oh, that and one time (allegedly) teabagging someone doesn’t make you a predator, no matter how much bitter Patriots fans wish it were so.

  24. Wow! And, it still goes on! This is so outdated and completely changed to “fit” whatever the person that is writing the comment’s opinion! And that is what it all is! From the first word that King wrote, to the last word that Florio wrote! It’s all opinion and we all know the opinion cliche!

    If the lawyers thought that they could have proved the ALLEGATIONS in the brief filed to the court, they would have pushed for prosecution and then a civil settlement! The FACT that she CHOSE to take the money without any legal prosecution tells me that the attorneys thought that it would be rather hard to prove their allegations in their brief to the court! So, they got just what they had planned from the start! Attorneys are not making a mistake when they file in criminal court and then go straight to the money settlement! That is a planned strategy from the beginning! She wanted a payday and got it! Nothing more than that.

    That fact that she named 32 men in a lawsuit against UT shows that she wants another payday and that she must have really hated it there because it took that many guys to make her take action! Come on! There is NO evidence to support her claims against PFM and her story has changed a few times since she first told it! That makes anything that comes from her mouth unreliable, at the very least, IMHO!

  25. I’m a Jets fan and I haven’t read a NYDN article in YEARS. If you ever see “According to Manish Mehta of the NYDN…” I would recommend not believing anything afterwards. It’s become quite common that Manish says something and multiple reporters say it’s not true a day later.

    He’s also driven this national narrative that Revis has lost all talent (I’m guessing Revis turned down an interview or something, it seems childish on the part of Manish). Revis finished this season with the lowest Completion % Allowed among all CBs, the lowest burn % Allowed among all CBs, and he was responsible for 9 turnovers. I watched every snap he played and he wasn’t Revis from ’09 but he really only struggled vs. Hopkins & Watkins. Otherwise, he held most #1 WRs under 50 yards.

    Bottom line, the NYDN is a rag. I actually really like the way PFT has covered this story and Deflategate. I’m a Jets fan/Patriots hater and Brady is a great QB because he’s a great QB, it has nothing to do with deflated footballs. PFT has taken the right approach for both stories, essentially destroying the Wells Report and now destroying Shaun King’s attempt at race baiting.

  26. Never believe anything Sean King says. He founded the Black Lives Matter movement, after making up a host of falsehoods and allegations against police re the Michael Brown slaying. Although he has two white parents and appears to be quite white himself, he goes to great lengths to claim that his true biological father who had a brief affair with his mother (1-night stand?) was a light-skinned black man, and he always wants to demonstrate to the world how much he hates his caucasion genes. Of course, he doesn’t want to discuss facts. He only wants to rabble-rouse and feed the likeminded people who want to participate in a bigoted crusade against white folks. The man is a nutcase. Best not to indugle him any of our time.

  27. Hey Mike… eventually you’re gonna have to tear that Peyton Manning poster down off your wall. Nothing you write changes hte truth.

    Manning has been living a double life for 20 years and making millions of dollars off of it thru advertisers while duping the American public with a phony persona that never existed.

    He sexually abused this woman, had daddy pay her off, learned nothing from the experience and he and daddy went back at her 6 years later and had to pay her off again, now the hgh and tiger woods 2.0 sex life scandal….

  28. Didn’t read the comments yet – did someone already point out the humor that Shaun King is white? He was Rachael Dolezal before Rachael Dolezal was Rachael Dolezal.

  29. Great article. I wont even look at anything written by anyone on the NY Daily News. It is garbage and you can not believe anything that is printed. Never thought the attack on Manning as racist but now it makes sense. Racism in this country is out of control. Until racist of ALL colors are gone this kind of stuff will continue. People need to learn to stand on what they are not what color they were born.

  30. I am a lawyer. But even I can say that I hate seeing sports I used to enjoy tainted with legal issues right and left. It’s time for the reading public to let journalists know that we care about things other than these tawdry messes.

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