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ESPN Suspends Bruce Feldman: More Leach/Craig James Fallout

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ESPN Suspends Bruce Feldman: More Leach/Craig James Fallout

So let me start by saying two things.

First, I'm supposed to be writing a player profile on Hakeem Nicks for

Second, I'm about to go all College Football on you for a minute, something I won't do much here at CHTV.

This Craig James/Mike Leach thing has just reached the point where it's making me ill. Apologies to David Dodds, Joe Bryant and Jason Woods at FBGs but I have to rant.

Tonight Bruce Feldman—one of the best college football writers out there—was suspended by the World Wide Leader (can I put some sort of :eyeroll: smilie here?).

What does that have to do with the price of tea in China (or Leach, Texas Tech and Craig James)? Well, Feldman worked on Leach's just released book Swing Your Sword which, in part details his flaming exit from the Texas Tech program.

It was one of the uglier exits I've seen in college football in quite a while.

You can catch our thoughts on this on this week's Hard Count but basically Leach was accused of mistreating Adam James, son of Craig James:ESPN analyst. James went a little 'helicopter parent' on Leach and pretty much used his national pulpit to lob bombs at Leach even after the video which started it (of Adam 'locked' in a utility shed) was debunked.

In all this, it never occurred to ESPN that maybe—I dunno, having one of your analysts comment repeatedly on an issue he had a personal interest in might be, shall we say a complete and utter conflict of interest.

Let me be clear, as I was on the show: Mike Leach was gone at some point. Texas Tech was going to axe him down the road. James was just the fulcrum.

That said, James never should have commented on it, should have known better and ESPN should have done a better job of trying to be slightly more evenhanded.

They sure as Hell shouldn't have suspended Feldman for his work on the book—work he hasn't touted or done press for might I add—which they gave him permission to work on.

By all accounts, when the whole trouble started, Feldman was already working on the book of Leach's coaching career. When Leach turned the lawyers loose on several parties involved, he (Feldman) reportedly made it clear he would only work on the book if the boss man told him ok, which they did.

All was fine until the book hit and now one of the best writers on college football is benched.

This is not only unconscionable but it's gutless. This story—which ESPN made plenty of press with despite a huge conflict of interest—is like a lie which forces you to tell bigger lies so that the first lie doesn't fall apart.

Aaron and I talked about this last night, the need to be first, not right. The need to get the story by any means necessary and if toes are stepped on (as long as they aren't LeBron's, Jeter's or Brady's) so be it.

I don't know I even blame Craig James at this point. Sure he went out of his mind over what happened but ESPN is the one grossly overreacting now. ESPN is the one who is punishing a man for what they told him he could do.

It's like Behnke asked to borrow my car and I said sure. Then the next day he told me that he might need to haul some heavy stuff with it and it might get damaged and I said, no problem. And then the moment he drives away from me with it, I call the cops and report it stolen.

It's insanity (and frankly I wouldn't put it past me, but that's another story).

We've come to the point where being the news is part of reporting the news. It's been like this in many ways since Sportscenter hit the airwaves and you tuned in to see Berman, Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman as much as the highlights.

However, it's now bled into reporting and we're more the poorer for it.

Shame on you ESPN.


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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

BC_Cab's picture

ESPN is dead to me.

jeremy's picture

Same here.

SpartaChris's picture

I don't follow college football, but I agree this is total crap. If MNF weren't on ESPN, I seriously wouldn't tune in at all.

andrewgarda's picture

There's a part of me that assumes there HAS to be more to this but it gets shouted down by the part of me which knows absolute hypocrisy is perpetrated every single day in the entertainment industry - which is really as big a part of what ESPN is about as sports anyway these days.

Chazman's picture

I think you hit the nail on the head Andrew, ESPN is entertainment. It stopped being sports decades ago. You ever see a baseball highlight where they show a great catch by a fan and wonder how the score got to be 5 to 2?

PackersRS's picture

Wait wait wait. You mean fans catching balls doesn't count towards the score? I could swear...

andrewgarda's picture

Exactly. The catchphrases were the beginning of the end. When it was more important to sound cool than deliver the news.

mark's picture

Yeah, but without ESPN, how would I know "Who's Now"???

andrewgarda's picture

I promise to keep you up to date on 'Who's ow' though I have to admit 'my kid's hamster' will get old quick.

MarkinMadison's picture

On the subject of Bruce Feldman, I would walk away from ESPN at the first opportunity that worked for me and my family.

On the general subject of sound bites v. news, this critique could be applied to much of the news media right now. Generally speaking so much of the media is about grabbing readers via an incendiary headline, and telling them a story. Never mind that the story often over-simplifies reality to the point of distortion (or outright ignores facts that are not consistent with the storyline). The 24/7 news mentality requires the media to blow stories out of proportion just so there is something to talk about.

While I'd like to blame it all on cable t.v., the truth is that traditional newspapers fall into this trap as well. I recently dealt with a matter where a person made an obviously incorrect statement to a small local media outlet. When they contacted us for our response we told them in less than two hours (and before 2:30 p.m.) exactly what the facts were, and backed it up. However, that didn't fit with the "story." The other story read better. So that was what was published the next day, with a comment that we had "not responded." There was no follow-up story. This type of incident is not uncommon.

If journalists have a code of ethics, many are not observing it and no one is in the business of enforcement. The NewsCorp scandal in the UK right now is fascinating to me, not so much because I am shocked by the behavior, but because I am shocked because there appear to be some actual consequences for NewsCorp. Even if a similar scandal comes to light here in America, a sizeable number of Americans simply will not care, and will continue to tune in. And thats the real problem with 300-channle pick-and-choose cable. As consumers we can cherish our ethical reporters when we find them (e.g. Jason Wilde), but there will always be an audience for ESPN. They have a greater interest in consistently seizing on the story of the day than they do in their own long-term reputations. We'll still tune in for Sunday night football.

morgan's picture

ESPN's ombudsman took the first part of the story on a while back. check it out.

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