The League

A.J. Daulerio

A.J. Daulerio

The Editor of Deadspin

Smart Move, ESPN?


ESPN's received some ridicule for ignoring the (alleged!) Roethlisberger sexual assault story, but even if there is some truth to their "we don't report on civil suits" editorial policy, it still could have been the right move for them. This is, inherently, a strange policy for any news organization to have (especially one as multi-tiered as ESPN) but even stranger when you consider this particular civil suit involves last year's Super Bowl winning quarterback. And, not surprisingly, this non-story dominated the headlines of many editorial institutions that don't have the lofty distinction of being the World Wide Leader in potential career-altering news about last year's Super Bowl winning quarterback.

It's always fun to conspiracy-theorize about ESPN's blurry editorial mission, specifically, if their numerous athlete promotional tie-ins and league TV contracts effect their ability to report news: a tarnished Roethlisberger image would kill the levity of the Sportscenter commercial where he playfully throws John Clayton onto a hotel bed... we won't be able to plop him in the Mad Tea Cups with potential female sponsors during ESPN The Weekend without proper supervision...etc.

However what if ESPN isn't being slippery about this story, just rightfully cautious? Since Pro Football Talk first kicked into overdrive on this story late Monday night, we've learned a few things about Big Ben's accuser, most notably, there's the distinct possibility she may have yanked this incident from the dark, desperate corners of her recently depressed mind. Roethlisberger's attorney denied the allegations, which also hit the wires, too, but ESPN still has kept it in DO NOT REPORT status. How come? Maybe because this is a story that isn't worth the potential gear-shifting if it turns out to be a crazy woman attempting to extort money. Then again, if they haven't put it on their news crawl by tomorrow morning and it turns out that Big Ben settles this thing before hand, their viewers will be confused as to why in the next 24 hours they'll see hourly updates from Wendy Nix standing in a Lake Tahoe Harrah's company parking lot waiting for someone to talk.

By A.J. Daulerio  |  July 22, 2009; 9:15 AM ET  | Category:  Crime , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Didn't ESPN report the allegations from the woman accusing Randy Moss of bad behavior right before the Super Bowl in 2008? Didn't ESPN report the civil suits filed against the boxer accused of passing HIV to a woman? Didn't ESPN report the civil suits against Dennis Rodman, Magic Johnson, Mike Vick? This is the same espn that will report what Chad Johnson is twittering and unproven allegations against any number of athletes but NOW they have a standard in place? When did they create this policy? Yesterday?

Posted by: mlrice710 | July 22, 2009 1:31 PM

Good policy. If there's no crime alleged, no crime previously tried, then I don't want to hear about it.

Posted by: kls1 | July 23, 2009 12:50 PM

So all of a suddden we have to have a debate on whether or not ESPN should be covering "allegations" against a pro athlete? Where was all this concern with Randy Moss (unsubstantiated allegations), Isaiah Thomas (Civil not criminal suit) and countless other athletes who ESPN and many other media outlets plastered all across America before there were any charges or in the absence of any criminal complaint. Sure is a strange sense of timing.

Posted by: robsmarq | July 23, 2009 1:57 PM

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