Controversial ESPN, Part II: Network Finally Acknowledges Ben Roethlisberger Lawsuit

Shortly before 8 pm last night, nearly 48 hours after news of the Ben Roethlisberger lawsuit emerged, ESPN finally acknowledged the story. Hiding behind a civil vs. criminal argument, ESPN took a pounding online, and one NFL player – the chatty Darnell Dockett of the Cardinals, who sacked Roethlisberger three times in the Super Bowl – even slammed ESPN, hinting at racism. [Edit: Oddly, Amare Stoudemire of the Suns had the exact same tweets. Unified front?]  

We’ve been inundated with your emails over the last two days with links to past ESPN reporting of similar cases involving Randy Moss of the Patriots and Shannon Brown of the Lakers, and your conspiracy theories about Duke Lacrosse and Roethlisberger appearing on Shaq’s ABC show. Here’s ESPN’s defense:

“Based on the sensitive nature of the story and other factors we mentioned, we initially exercised caution and did not report it. Since then, we’ve been observing how the story has progressed, monitoring other news outlets, and doing our own reporting. We decided to report the story tonight.”

What really hurts ESPN here is that the story lingered for nearly two days on every other major sports website, and in virtually ever paper in the country. Even the sports fans who only get their news from ESPN had to see/hear this elsewhere because everyone was talking about it, and then the question became: Why is ESPN avoiding this story? Addressing it with a statement to blogs is one thing; we almost think ESPN should address it at the top of its AP story on Roethlisberger. A 2-3 sentence editor’s note on its officially civil vs. criminal policy. Everyone’s past the ‘did Ben do it?’ stage and now the question fans have is, ‘why’d ESPN ignore this?’

Earlier: ESPN’s Lack of Coverage About the Ben Roethlisberger Lawsuit is Puzzling Edit
ESPN Whiffs on Roethlisberger Coverage (Kevin Blackistone)

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