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Dan Levy
Sports Media Guru

Dan Levy

The host of On the DL with new episodes every weekday.

Can You Gag Anonymity?

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When Alex Rodriguez's name came out as one of the 104 listed on a 2003 MLB drug test, many people were up in arms that someone leaked the information. Pundits -- real media pundits and ex-jocks dressed up like media pundits -- were upset that only A-Rod's name came out. "It wasn't fair to single him out," they explained.

Members of the media were upset because other members of that same media used sources to uncover important, viable, timely information. Sources! How dare they.

It's the same thing in Dallas. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is upset because personnel inside the organization are speaking to the media and giving them information that he doesn't want the media to have. So why not confront the offending parties and ask them to kindly refrain from speaking with reporters? Because he doesn't know who they are. They have become -- gasp -- sources.

Jones doesn't trust his employees. Rather than take measures to gain their trust, or provide them the latitude to do their jobs the way they, not he, deem proper, Jones goes the other way. Ban their asses from talking.

This is where his model falls apart, though. Jones can't know for sure who is speaking to the media. Is it the players? Is it the coaching staff? Is it the woman who answers the phone outside his office who can hear everything because the walls aren't ever as thick as two men in a heated exchange think they are? (Personally, I think it's her.)

Is it everyone?

It's probably everyone. Which is why Jones has put a gag-order on everyone (other than himself) until further notice. This includes his head coach. Which means not only does he not trust anyone in his organization, but that 'anyone' includes the man he has entrusted to lead the most important part of his organization.

Let's be real. Jones doesn't know who is talking. But he does know that someone is talking. Rather than confront his employees and get to the bottom of this internal rumor-mongering, he threw out a blanket gag-order. This order only serves to give the media a warning, not his own staff. The staff is already talking. But it's the big, bad media that keeps reporting it. The sources are anonymous, but the writers always have their name on a story.

So... if you can't stop your own from talking, stop the writers from writing. If a reporter writes a story with anonymous sources from within Cowboy camp, will Jones have the ability, or right, to freeze that reporter out of future press availability? After all, the reporter knew that his source was not permitted to talk, so isn't the reporter committing some sort of Jerry-Jones ethical malfeasance?

Jones should just start a blog. Deny all media access and just post everything there. That way, he can really control everything.

By Dan Levy  |  February 23, 2009; 8:23 AM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys , Dan Levy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Father Jones Knows Best | Next: Will Jerry Jones Gag Order Backfire?

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"Jones doesn't trust his employees. Rather than take measures to gain their trust, or provide them the latitude to do their jobs the way they, not he, deem proper, Jones goes the other way. Ban their asses from talking."

LOL more whining from the Fourth Estate. He's got a great point, and as far as trusting them, he's made it clear and simple what he expects of them. No comments to the media. No excuses.

Posted by: dubya19391 | February 23, 2009 6:31 PM

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