07.25.06

Reynolds, Wrapped : Moron From Mattoon Renders Illinois Journalism Degree Worthless

Posted in Sports Journalism, Sports TV, Will Leitch Sucks at 6:38 pm by

Slightly overeager to detemine the true cause of Harold Reynolds’ dismissal from ESPN yesterday, Deadspin’s Will Leitch gleefully ran 5 seperate, unattributed items claiming the former Mariners second baseman’s termination was related to a specific charge of sexual harrassment, if not a longstanding pattern of behavior.

Having succeeded in publicly smearing Reynolds, Leitch followed the matter up later in the day with an “insider” denial of the sexual harrassment allegations (supposedly, Reynolds had an off-camera “meltdown” during discussions of “Baseball Tonight”s coverage of the A-Rod saga). Far from contrite in any role he might’ve played in libeling Reynolds, Leitch added,

The longer ESPN pretends like nothing happened, like they’re a corner shop with three employees, believing this stuff can possibly remain private, the more talk there will be. Still, this is the lone “it’s not sexual harassment email” we’ve received.

So there you have it. ESPN is obliged to provide full, explicit details of just what is happening within their walls, otherwise Will Leitch’s readers might die of curiosity. 5 anonymous tips calling Harold Reynolds a serial ass-grabbber obviously carry more weight than one denial. If Leitch can just find another dozen people to say the Holocaust never happened, well, that’s good enough for me.

Of course, even if he has no conscience to speak of, Leitch is perfectly entitled to go after whatever public figures he wants — though I suspect it might be a tad tougher finding financing for a blog that openly discusses Nick Denton’s sexual history. And on that tip, let’s not kid ourselves. A cocktail party or two turns out differently and the Taco Bell Spicy Crunchwrap Supreme eating motherfucker could just as easily have been writing gags for Page 2, while some other sad sack (preferably one with a personality and not nearly as obvious a browser history) is shitting all over the Connecticut-based Disney employees.

UPDATE :  Newsday’s Neil Best citing his sources as “three people who work at ESPN” reports tonight that “the cause was a pattern of sexual harassment, apparently culminating in a recent incident involving one of the network’s young production assistants.”

Sexual harassment charges are nothing new at ESPN, which operates out of a sprawling “campus” in relatively isolated Bristol, Conn., and employs many production assistants in their early 20s. The network has an extensive program of education and sensitivity regarding gender issues and an elaborate system for pursuing claims of sexual harassment.

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, a former ESPN host, told The New York Observer in 2004 he had testified in “three or four major cases at ESPN.”

If push comes to shove, Best should be able to produce some documentation that these claims came from actual persons who work at ESPN.  Unless of course, he too, is comfortable with being 80% sure.

7 Responses to “Reynolds, Wrapped : Moron From Mattoon Renders Illinois Journalism Degree Worthless”

  1. Rog says:

    Sounds to me like your boy Leitch got the scoop (for once, bloggers are ahead of the mainstream media…which shocks the hell out of me). There’s no way he got canned for having a man-crush on A-Rod. C’mon, you’ve been around the block. Mid-to-High profile people don’t get canned for pecadillos; sexual harassment was the first thing that came to my mind since he got dropped immediately and without explanation to the public. Yeah, he’s innocent till proven guilty, I’m not saying he did nothing, but as far as the reasons for his firing, sounds like Deadspin is Dead On!!!

  2. GC says:

    Rog,

    whether or not H.R. is innocent or guilty isn’t for me to decide. But I think there’s something completely screwy about running a bunch of anonymous accusations, following it up with an anonymous contradiction of said story and then dishing out the classic, “well, the accusations outnumber the denials”.

    For all we know, none of these people might work at ESPN or have met Harold Reynolds. The 5 accusation comments might all be from the same person.

    You might call it a scoop, but if that’s the case, there’s some awesome scoops on bathroom walls all over the country.

    If Will or anyone else wants to make some calls, get their hands dirty and try to determine the difference between fact and fantasy, that’s a-ok. You might even call it journalism. At least the cruddy old print media (some of ‘em) made an effort to get a comment out of Harold or his agent. Given that Leitch ran the most explicit and detailed accusations of anyone yesterday, what harm could’ve been done in trying to get Reynolds’ side of the story?

    Sure, I suppose it is highly unlikely that Harold, his agent or lawyer would’ve talked to anyone, let alone the Whoopee Cushion, but isn’t it a little more important to be fair in this process than just have the dirt online FIRST?

    Of course, what’s one guy’s reputation and career compared to generating traffic for Nick Denton?

  3. Rog says:

    BTW, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14026863/

    Yeah, I was thinking earlier about how the diff between Leitch and legit journalists is that the way the latter get dirt is by cold-calling everyone in the 860 area code who might know HR, and that waiting for something to drop into your lap is pretty much the opposite of that. Call it Passive Agressive Reporting, or something, but what Your Boy did was one of the very few instances where a blogger broke a story (or at least found the missing detail that everyone was tripping over themselves trying to get–trust me on this one…).

    Seriously, though, I’m not so sure that the process is really ever fair anymore. The chasm of truth between what someone’s flak wants you to write and what you read on the bathroom stall has become the Grand Canyon in the past ten or so years. The whole ‘ESPN baseball dude gets fired for grabbing ass while on the clock’ story might give us the luxury of debating this type of minutiae (who said what first and who gave bodog.com a spike in traffic today) but had the subject been a government official (nay, a bulletproof government official, coated with teflon) getting away with widespread corruption and murder as a result of sending a bunch of soldiers off to a war that nobody wants, and the only way for a journalist to finally get a smoking gun was to print some whistleblowing from anonymous sources, well, sometimes that’s the only way to get at the truth.

    And, no, I’m not suggesting that Your Boy is doing anything remotely heroic or worthy of a Pulitzer by reporting any of this. I just think it’s funny that he got it right.

  4. GC says:

    Rog,

    we can go around and around on this but I don’t think Screech broke anything. There was no “missing detail” beyond a series of vague accusations from unattributed sources. The closest we’ve seen thus far to a missing detail is the Big Lead’s Outback Steakhouse hug-gate claims, which H.R. himself comes close to verifying in today’s Post.

    “had the subject been a government official (nay, a bulletproof government official, coated with teflon) getting away with widespread corruption and murder as a result of sending a bunch of soldiers off to a war that nobody wants, and the only way for a journalist to finally get a smoking gun was to print some whistleblowing from anonymous sources, well, sometimes that’s the only way to get at the truth.”

    It might also be, given the methods employed, one of the more efficient ways of saying, for instance, an opposition candidate’s military service history was suspicious, or claiming a political foe had a child out of wedlock or you name it. If the only thing that matters is saying it FIRST and saying it louder than someone else, well….I can see how that makes for an entertaining bathroom wall. But that’s not journalism and sometimes it isn’t about the truth, either.

  5. Rog says:

    There was a period of time yesterday when nobody (even the frigging POST!) knew the reason for his dismissal. Screech was the first one to even print a theory. Hey, I don’t like it any more than you do, but then again, I don’t have the same seething hatred towards him.

  6. GC says:

    Rog,

    sorry to let the seething hatred bleed into so very much, but it should be stressed that said “theory” was being floated on several message boards and bloggers’ comments sections (including Screech’s own) within minutes of Marchand’s Post story. I fail to see how Screech repeating said testimony with no further facts nor any effort to gain the accused’s side of the story is anything more than just what I’ve characterized —- the ‘net equiv. of the toilet wall.

    The Post couldn’t rightfuly go with a reason for Reynolds’ firing with no one (at the time) being willing to speak on or off the record. e-mailing Leitch or dropping a comment at Deadspin is certainly one way to avoid retribution for potential whistleblowers. It’s also a terrific way to say anything about anyone. I’m not arguing HR’s guilt or innocence, but this process (at least the way I’ve described it) doesn’t just drag guilty-asshole-presidents to justice, it can just as easily give someone with an axe to grind the easiest opportunity to bury a foe.

    You call it a scoop. At best, I call it lazy on Screech’s part, cowardice at worst.

  7. Rog says:

    ok

Leave a Reply