LA Times: suck it

Since one of the things that angers me most about sports/media is the absolutely hypocrisy being tossed in our (read: the fans) faces, I couldn’t let this one slide.

In October 2006, L.A. Times reporters Lance Pugmire and Tim Brown ran with a redacted copy of the Jason Grimsley affidavit, including the following “major” names, under the guise of “allegedly”:

  • Andy Pettitte
  • Miguel Tejada
  • Brian Roberts
  • Jay Gibbons
  • David Segui
  • Roger Clemens

After the Times’ report was published the then-U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, Kevin Ryan, said it contained “significant inaccuracies.” The Times did nothing.

Yesterday, December 20, 2007, the affidavit was unsealed at the request of a federal judge in Phoenix. Lo and behold, “Four names, including that of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, were not mentioned in the affidavit, despite a newspaper report last year that singled them out”.

The Times had this to say yesterday: “We acknowledge the inaccuracies of the report and deeply regret the mistake” and published the following today, buried in their “Corrections” area:

Baseball: A front-page article on Oct. 1, 2006 incorrectly reported that in a search warrant affidavit filed in May 2006 in federal court in Phoenix, an investigator alleged that pitcher Jason Grimsley named former teammates Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons as players linked to performance-enhancing drugs. In the affidavit, which was unsealed Thursday, Grimsley did not name those players. The article also said Grimsley alleged that Miguel Tejada had used steroids. The only mention of Tejada in the affidavit was as part of a conversation with teammates about baseball’s ban of amphetamines. The Times regrets the error, and a clarifying story appears on the front page today.

One of the original reporters, Lance Pugmire, wrote the update today, which also included this:

In granting a government motion to unseal the document, U.S. District Court Judge Edward C. Voss in Phoenix referenced The Times’ story from last year and said he was “compelled to point out what appears to be an example of abusive reporting.

“The [Times] article trumpets the success . . . in ending the ‘months of speculation’ surrounding which major league ballplayers Jason Grimsley named. . . A review . . . proves that The Times never saw the unredacted affidavit. . . . At best, the article is an example of irresponsible reporting. At worst, the ‘facts’ reported were simply manufactured.”

Voss added: “Unfortunately, The Times’ article still has legs,” a reference to its mention in last week’s 409-page report by former Sen. George Mitchell on performance-enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball. The report named Clemens, Pettitte, Tejada, Roberts, Gibbons and Segui as performance-enhancing drug users and McNamee as a supplier of steroids and HGH.

The affidavit was written in May 2006 by Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Jeff Novitzky, who had interviewed Grimsley to support a search of his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. In the affidavit, Grimsley additionally accused former Baltimore Orioles teammate Rafael Palmeiro of taking amphetamines and said outfielder Pete Incaviglia “always had a supply.”

read the whole shebang here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-baseball21dec21,1,3531993.story?coll=la-headlines-sports&ctrack=1&cset=true

Brilliant. Not only was it irresponsible reporting, the judge thought it was bad enough that it was referenced in the Mitchell Report.

Now, if it isn’t obvious already, I’m new to this. But doesn’t the mainstream media, the big time conglomerates have fact-checkers and junior editors and senior editors and managing editors to ensure this sort of McCarthyism reporting doesn’t take place? You’d think ONE of them would wonder if they should run with this, knowing the storm it would bring.

In another similar instance, in the hours that preceded the Mitchell Report, MSNBC.com published the “email list” of players supposedly to be named. It was a hoax. Emailed ’round the world like so many other email hoaxes and jokes. Yet, a major site like that felt compelled to take it as gospel and run with it, reputations of the named be damned. Pujols, Damon, Varitek and others, named falsely. Yeah, it was soon pulled from the site but still, it was published.

When guys like Mike Wilbon say (courtesy of AwfulAnnouncing.com, thanks guys):

“I dont know how old Jenny Carlson is, but perhaps if she’s younger and I’m not assuming but if you are a younger writer and that’s why I asked how long you’ve been at it, perhaps you’re more inclined to be more blogger…”- Scott Van Pelt

“YES!”- Michael Wilbon

“….in other words more critical than you would be to to be more towards the side of the guy in the hat wearing….that says press on it…the more journalistic. Do you buy that?”- SVP”

Yes. I do buy it. And I have gone after some of our younger staffers at the Washington Post to say I don’t want to read this again. That’s not what we do. Umm, you know everybody….the notion of blogging scares the hell out of me Scott, and…..this is why. There’s no accountability….stuff isn’t edited. It just goes out there as gospel. What it is is opinion, there’s way too much rumor….”- MW (emphasis mine)

Where was/is the accountability at the LA Times? A simple “oops, we’re sorry” is sufficient, I guess. LAME. I don’t like calling for one’s head but someone should be fired for running those names over a year ago without proof.

So, at the end of the day (or this rant), does it make Clemens seem any less guilty? No, not by a longshot. But it just shows how hypocritical mainstream media can be sometimes.

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Programming note: I’ll be enjoying San Diego’s nice weather (and Monday night football game) for the next week or so. I’ll try to get something updated here while enjoying vacation! Healthy and happy new year to all.

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