Echoing Will Leitch’s insistence that ESPN is obliged to tell the public more than just “Harold Reynolds doesn’t work here anymore,” the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman takes a rather dim view of the deposed broadcaster and his former employer.
Reynolds told the New York Post he wanted his job back, explaining he was fired for “giving a woman a hug” that he felt was “misinterpreted.”
But Reynolds told USA Today he was ousted because: “They (ESPN suits) made a decision to have a change in direction. I respect their decision, but I don’t necessarily agree with it.” Reynolds added he already was considering several job offers while his attorney was working on a financial settlement with ESPN. This would seem to indicate he either does not want his ESPN job back or already knows ESPN won’t take him back.
When I asked Reynolds what happened, he said something about a difference “in philosophy” that he might talk about in a “couple of” days. “Don’t press me,” he said. “I’m a nice guy.”
That’s not really the issue here. Until someone offers concrete proof, Reynolds’ ultimate transgression will be open to speculation. This is bad news for him. It’s also bad for anyone who values the truth. And it has everything to do with the way ESPN brass chose to handle this situation.
By offering no reason for firing Reynolds, ESPN suits released a torrent of rumors. They also provided cover for Reynolds, allowing him to provide different answers to what likely were the same questions. Reynolds, a former major leaguer, certainly knows how to cover all the bases.
when reports of Reynolds’ firing surfaced, it was no shock that ESPN suits elected to stonewall. They have done it before. They have reasons for their silent treatment. An ESPN executive might ask a reporter that if someone at “your newspaper” gets fired, would it publish a story about why it happened? Or would your boss offer the media a reason for a particular dismissal?
This rationale fails to take into account that unlike your average newspaper reporter, Reynolds, like other high profile ESPN talent, is a celebrity. ESPN is a national TV network that goes into 90 million homes. When someone is suddenly fired, those who watch the network want to know why. They care about a guy like Reynolds.
Someone at ESPN also might tell you there are legal issues to consider. Or how there is no need, after someone is fired, to ruin his or her chances of ever getting another gig by releasing the gory details.
In some respects this is admirable. Still, like it has in the past, the policy allows some deviant who has preyed on a woman to move to another network and do it again.