ESPN, Bruce Feldman and Journalistic Integrity, 2011

So we all know how shitty Fox News can be, often is and will continue to be.

The question is: How far removed is ESPN?

As many readers here know, I used to write regularly for ESPN.com. I enjoyed the experience very much; dug my editors; etc. But the company as a whole—eh, not so much.

In case you missed this one, yesterday ESPN indefinitely suspended Bruce Feldman, the excellent, upstanding college football writer. Bruce’s crime: Rape? No. Theft? No. Spousal abuse? No. What Bruce Feldman did—damn him to hell—was assist Mike Leach, the former Texas Tech coach, with his new autobiography, Swing Your Sword.

Indeed.

So why, one must ask, would ESPN suspend one of its true professionals (in the genuine, Bob Ley sense of the word) for helping with a book that, apparently, the company initially approved Feldman participating in? Answer: Leach is the coach who was terminated in 2009 because of complaints about his alleged treatment of Adam James—son of (really, really annoying and entitled) ESPN college football analyst Craig James.

And, while Bruce Feldman is well-regarded, Craig James is an ex-jock. And the powers that be at ESPN looooove ex-jocks. And current jocks. And any jocks—as long as Chris Berman and Stu Scott can have lunch with them (and pose for photographs afterward). This sort of thing makes my head spin, but, sadly, doesn’t surprise. ESPN, remember, is the place that has willingly used Erin Andrews as its on-air sex kitten; that formed a partnership with Barry Bonds; that axed an award-winning series because the NFL was angry; that keeps Skip (Troy Aikman is Gay—Even if I Can’t Prove It!) Bayless on the payroll and doesn’t mind it’s “talent” endorsing products they might, ahem, actually cover.

Bruce Feldman is a pro. A pro’s pro. He busts his ass, does excellent work and runs circles around clowns like Craig James, whose detailed insight can be summed up with, “In the [X quarter], [X team] needs to do [X] to win [X] game.” And now, because of ESPN’s big-brother reach, he’s not only suspended, but he can’t Tweet. Literally, they have taken away his voice.

Shame on them.

24 thoughts on “ESPN, Bruce Feldman and Journalistic Integrity, 2011”

  1. Ethically speaking, ESPN is a garbage dump covered in piles of dogs***.

    Don’t get me wrong: if the allegations are true, what Leach did was wrong. No kid should be sent out to play after just having suffered a concussion, particularly in light of everything they’ve learned in the last five years. Thing is, it’s the culture of collegiate sports that needs to change. If anyone thinks Leach is the only coach he’s ever done that or continues to do that then there’s this bridge in Brooklyn I can sell to you on the cheap. But Leach specifically got canned due to direct interference, both publicly and behind the scenes, from ESPN.

    A media company, and especially one that presents itself as a reputable journalistic outfit, should not be in the business of alternately acting as hypemen and saboteurs. And that’s exactly what happened in this situation, and the grudge has been carried through two years after the fact. That they even used it to throw one of their own under the bus is reprehensible and speaks nto only to the lack of respect they have for things like journalistic integrity and ethics, but also for their own people.

    I hope Feldman has success with his book, and in particular is able to find work with a better outfit that’s more deserving of him and vice-versa.

  2. Yeah, how dare Skip Bayless say that and ESPN keeps him employed. Kind of like how SI keeps Jeff (Jeff Bagwell Used Steroids-Even If I Can’t Prove It!) Pearlman on their payroll.

  3. Did you ever leave Mahopac High School Jeff? You sound like you still have pent up rage over how you were treated by the “jocks” in high school.
    I was surprised as I read the rest of the article that you didn’t refer to the rest of your former ESPN colleagues as “preppies”, “burn-outs” and “Guidos”.

  4. An article about a college football writer at ESPN somehow also included a potshot at Fox News.

    You stike me as a very unhappy human being. I almost feel bad for you.

  5. Craig James needs to be let go from ESPN, I switch the channel every time he is on. Craig is always right, just ask him. What a loser.

  6. I don’t expect ESPN to be completely consistent…or any network, really. But they’ve reached a point where employee punishments are based on potential viewer reactions. And that’s why this suspension makes no sense. I suppose they thought it would fly under the radar, but at the same time, why risk fallout on this particular thing? I was particularly appalled at the swiftness of the action. It’s not computing for me.

  7. I couldnt agree with you more. There was a time when govt broke up a monopoly, until a legitimate competitor comes along you can expect this type of stuff to keep happening. Which is wonderful for all you Tony Reali fans. The guido that plays with the joysticks for 30 minutes and then transforms into an intern/statboy for PTI. PTI was once the best thing on ESPN but just like everything else, they found a way to F it up.
    One of ESPN’s biggest problems in my opinion is that they let the talent get way too close with the athletes. Perfect example, Michael Wilbon. He was entertaining and opinionated when he just wrote his column and did PTI. Now he never even comes in the studio and is an NBA Guru/Insider. I cant watch him anymore. I bet his a** has been sore for a few years now from riding the fence. Tony K should keep a broom next to him so he can sweep up all the names Wilbon drops in 20 minutes. Kornheiser has managed to mainly stay the same and needs to tell his friend Mike that he’s embarrassing himself and the show. ESPN eventually ruins everybody and every show they come up with. It makes no sense, nobody is in the rear view mirror.

  8. Jeff, you come off as a typical angry white liberal.

    CBS lies pushed by Dan Rather nearly changed the outcome of the US Presidential Election. Shouldn’t your rage be fair and balanced?

  9. Philip,
    Not defending Craig James, just don’t like the rumor angle.
    SMU received the Death Penalty in 1987.
    In 1987 Craig James was playing for the New England Patriots.
    He was drafted by the Washington Federals of the ASFL in 1982. Five years before the death penalty.
    What sparked the investigations was incidents from the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Craig was gone.
    Other than that James is a bad word, bad word.

  10. Good article except for the unrelated and unnecessary Fox News bash. Why would you insert politics into a non-political subject? It adds nothing to your point and only pisses off half the readers.

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