In the mid-1990s, the story of the Dallas Cowboys’ “White House” broke. That was the residence located immediately adjacent to the Cowboys’ training facilities that a number of players rented to create an atmosphere that was Animal House meets North Dallas Forty. As the classic quote at the time from then-Cowboys offensive lineman Nate Newton went, “We’ve got a little place over here where we’re running some whores in and out, trying to be responsible, and we’re criticized for that, too.” But perhaps surprisingly, the local Dallas press was initially gun-shy in reporting the news, as Jeff Pearlman wrote in his best-selling 2008 history of the nineties Cowboys, Boys Will Be Boys:
The first member of the media to write of the White House was the Miami Herald’s Dan Le Batard, who merely mentioned it in passing in a larger piece about partying in the NFL. “The reality is that many teams throughout the league had places like the White House,” says Le Batard. “But the Cowboys were the biggest, baddest, best, and anything they did was vastly more magnetized.” Upon hearing Le Batard’s story, the Dallas media went to work. In truth, many were well aware of the White House and its going-ons, but chose to ignore the story in the name of player-press relations. “Everyone knew about it, but what are you going to do, run a story about the guys cheating on their wives with hookers?” says Rob Geiger, a reporter for KRLD radio in Dallas. “The writers understood not to write about, the radio and TV guys understood not to talk about it, because we’d be vilified by the fans, and locked out by the team.”
It was a gargantuan lapse in news judgment. The White House had everything one craves in a story — sex, drugs, fame, football.
ESPN executives at the “top of the food chain” reportedly found out that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o's dead girlfriend was a hoax on January 6th, which was one day before the BCS title game between Notre Dame and Alabama the network televised.
According to a report in BigLeadSports, ESPN allegedly sat on the story because it may not have been in the network’s “best interest” to report on the breaking news item before the championship game the network televised and heavily promoted.
As an Insta-reader notes regarding the Te’o story:
So in all the months of inspirational stories of touching humanity no sports journalist did any real journalism to contact the family/ friends/ acquaintances of the girlfriend? No classmates at Stanford?
But journalism is important and bloggers and Tweeters are kooks.
Layers and layers of fact checkers and editors.
But hey, this is just sports, the “toy department” of the MSM, as the late Mike Wallace once described his industry. It’s not like old media looks the other way when a politician screws up, right? No, of course not.
Related: Not surprisingly, I’m far from the only one using the “Liestrong” headline this week.