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#pounditMonday, January 17, 2022

Policing the Media

Reporter not voting Aaron Rodgers NFL MVP because of off-field reasons

Aaron Rodgers after a play

Veteran NFL reporter Hub Arkush took heat on Tuesday after revealing he was not giving Aaron Rodgers an MVP vote because of off-field issues.

Arkush was a guest on the “Parkins & Spiegel Show” with Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel on 670 The Hub in Chicago on Tuesday. Arkush, the editor of Pro Football Weekly, said on-field performance aside, Rodgers shouldn’t be MVP because he is a “jerk.”

“I don’t think you can be the biggest jerk in the league and punish your team and your organization and your fanbase the way he did and be the MVP,” Arkush argued. “Has he been the most valuable on the field? Yeah, you can make that argument. But I don’t think he’s been clearly that much more valuable than Jonathan Taylor or Cooper Kupp or maybe even Tom Brady. And from where I sit, the rest of it is why he’s not going to be my choice.”

Arkush also told the hosts that he has talked with some other Associated Press NFL MVP voters who view things similarly to him, which presumably means they will hold off-field issues against Rodgers.

As for what the AP is told are the guidelines for MVP voting, “we are told to pick the guy who we think is the most valuable to his team,” Arkush said.

Arkush is displaying a clear anti-Rodgers bias and holding off-field matters against the quarterback.

It’s undeniable that Rodgers caused controversies regarding offseason trade rumors, and about his vaccination status. However, it’s clear that the quarterback’s behavior did not negatively impact his team during the regular season. Rodgers is having another big season, and his Packers have the best record in the league.

You can absolutely argue that other players, like Taylor or Kupp or Brady, have been more valuable to their teams this season than Rodgers. But the reason should be due to on-field matters, not off-field issues. Green Bay’s success is direct proof that what Rodgers has done off the field hasn’t hurt the team.

Others on Twitter took issue with Arkush showing his bias and not evaluating MVP solely based on on-field performance.

There are 50 votes that go towards AP NFL MVP. If Rodgers wins, we know it won’t be unanimously.

Photo: Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Portnoy shares proof that woman behind allegations had axe to grind

Dave Portnoy

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy has been vehemently defending himself since a Business Insider takedown attempt was published last week. On Thursday, Portnoy addressed the allegations against him via a lengthy live video stream posted on social media.

In the Business Insider piece (which is paywalled and was used as a tool to try and sign up subscribers), Portnoy is accused of humiliating and having rough sex with two young women in separate incidents.

One of the women, a 20-year-old who is referred to as “Madison” in the story, says she connected with Portnoy over social media. Portnoy eventually bought her a plane ticket and invited her to his home in Nantucket, Mass.

The woman told BI she had a “traumatic experience” that ended with her sleeping on Portnoy’s couch for two nights before she flew home.

The woman told BI she “kept trying to get away” from Portnoy while the two were having sex and that he said “stop running away from me” and refused to stop. Portnoy has adamantly denied those allegations. However, Portnoy stated that the woman in question indeed slept on his couch. But Portnoy says the woman slept on his couch due to an argument the two had over their differing views on life, not because of sex issues.

Portnoy expounded on the matter Thursday during his Twitter Live session. The Barstool Sports founder also shared what he believes is proof that the woman had an axe to grind against him due to her political stance.

Portnoy received attention in July 2020 for a highly-publicized interview he conducted with Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Portnoy says the interview occurred three days after his interaction with Madison.

In his Thursday live session, Portnoy stated his belief that Madison became furious to learn that Portnoy was not radically anti-Trump the way she was.

“People think I’m like some crazy Trump guy. I am not,” Portnoy stated on Thursday. “I don’t like either extreme. This girl was extreme, extreme, extreme, extreme (politically). … I wasn’t gonna get into the politics of it. I didn’t want to bring that into it, but that is why we did not agree.”

Portnoy described his conversation that led to the woman sleeping on his couch as “vicious.”

“It was a vicious conversation, and we did not like each other after [our political conversation],” Portnoy contended Thursday.

These aren’t just Portnoy’s personal views on the matter, either. He shared past tweets from the woman that support his claim.

Portnoy says his interview with Trump was three days after he had sex with Madison. In one Instagram post, the woman shared a photo of Portnoy and Trump together and wrote, “Ok. Not my proudest f—.”

In a second Instagram post, the woman criticized Portnoy and threatened to expose him “if he ever truly pisses me off.”

“Portnoy was a d— and lame and grumpy. He gets a 2/10 from me. If he ever truly pis-es me off I have lots of content to expose him with. I am going to stick to the athletes,” the woman wrote.

During his live session, Portnoy shared screenshots of the woman’s Instagram posts, though he blurred out her username.

Madison also responded to a tweet where Portnoy bragged about his net worth being $118 million. She replied “Venmo” and listed what was presumably her Venmo account name. She seemed to be implying that Portnoy should send her money.

Business Insider omitted all of this context from its hit piece on the Barstool Sports founder.

A good portion of BI’s story was regurgitated criticisms of Barstool Sports published in other media outlets over the years. Then the majority of the remaining portions of BI’s article stemmed from Madison’s issues with Portnoy.

Since BI published its hit piece on Portnoy, which they have used to run ads on Twitter in hopes of gaining subscribers, Portnoy has pointed out other significant issues with the outlet’s takedown attempt.

Portnoy posted screenshots of messages he received from women who warned him about the author of the story contacting them. The women shared with Portnoy that the writer of the BI piece, Julia Black, seemed to have an agenda and was hunting for people who would bad-mouth Portnoy.

Portnoy shared that he believes Black was biased against him, already arrived at the conclusion that he was terrible, and that she worked backwards from there, looking for any sort of evidence that would support her takedown attempt. He noted that Nantucket police said Black did not contact them to verify a claim she included in her story.

Since the story’s publication, Portnoy has questioned other ethical/journalistic issues involving Business Insider’s dealings.

Portnoy pointed out that there was unusual trading activity involving his company’s publicly-traded stock (symbol: PENN) the day the story came out (which also coincided with the day Penn National Gaming reported its quarterly earnings). Portnoy shared speculation that either those at Business Insider who knew the outlet was about to publish a takedown piece against him either profited themselves, or shared information with other people, who then placed stock bets against PENN that paid off when the stock dropped around 20 percent the day the piece was published. (Note: the stock may have dropped due to a combination of the company’s earnings report and the publication of the takedown story.)

Portnoy pointed out that Business Insider’s CEO has been found guilty of securities violations and banned from the securities industry.

Portnoy also alleged that Business Insider was proactively alerting Barstool Sports advertisers that they were working on a follow-up piece on Barstool. Portnoy believes that was Business Insider’s attempt to get advertisers to “cancel” Barstool.

The full video of Portnoy defending himself is below.

Disclosure: Steve DelVecchio and Larry Brown own shares of PENN stock.

Jay Williams claims he was hacked after incorrect Celtics tweet

Jay Williams

ESPN analyst Jay Williams tried to backtrack and claim he was hacked after getting ripped for sending a factually incorrect tweet about the Boston Celtics.

Williams tried to applaud the Celtics for their hire of Ime Udoka as their new head coach. However, he called Udoka the “first head coach of color” hired by the team. Williams was wrong.

The Celtics were actually the first North American professional sports team with a black head coach — Bill Russell in 1966. K.C. Jones also coached the team. And it was just over a decade ago that Doc Rivers coached the team to a championship.

Williams later claimed on Twitter that he had been hacked.

Give us a break, Williams. Don’t make an excuse. Don’t say you changed your passcode. Whether it was you or an assistant who helps with your account, someone screwed up badly. And it’s not because of a password issue.

It serves Williams right that his hyper-focus on race backfired. How about just congratulating Udoka on getting the job after paying his dues?

Yahoo accuses Chris Paul of being unvaccinated

Chris Paul Suns

Yahoo on Saturday claimed in a headline on its main homepage that Chris Paul is unvaccinated despite no verification of this information.

Paul on Wednesday was reported to be in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol. On Saturday, the Phoenix Suns announced that CP3 would miss Sunday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Fans are wondering how long Paul might be out and when he will return. His vaccination status could provide some insight regarding the matter. But there has not been any public information shared about his vaccination status.

The only information on the matter has come from a pair of sports media hosts. Connected Arizona sports radio host John Gambadoro who said he believed Paul was vaccinated. Gambadoro reported that Paul tested positive for the virus, which is different from being a close contact to someone who tested positive.

Also on Wednesday, ESPN NBA personality Jalen Rose said that Paul was vaccinated.

Even though there has not been any definitive public information about the matter, that didn’t stop Yahoo from labeling Paul as “unvaccinated” in a headline found on their homepage Saturday.

A friend captured a screenshot of the headline and shared it with Larry Brown Sports:

Oddly, despite the homepage headline tease calling Paul “unvaccinated,” clicking on the link only took one to an article from Yahoo Sports about Paul being ruled out for Game 1. Even the article says of Paul “the 36-year-old has not publicly said if he has been vaccinated yet.”

So what does this mean? Not only was that some bait-and-switch work by Yahoo’s homepage team, but the editor who maintains writes their headlines just opened the company up to a libel lawsuit.

ESPN should stop Mark Jones from lying about Jacob Blake case

ESPN Mark Jones

ESPN needs to address the inflammatory lie announcer Mark Jones told on air on Wednesday.

Jones was the play-by-play announcer for the network’s coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers-Milwaukee Bucks game. The network rejoined the game with a tribute to Elgin Baylor, noting the late Hall of Famer’s civil rights-related actions. They tied it together with the Bucks’ actions last year in response to the Jacob Blake shooting.

While talking about the Blake case, Jones stated that Blake was “of course unarmed and shot seven times.”

Jones, who expressed anti-police statements in September, shared a blatant falsehood. Police stated at the time of the incident last year that Blake had a knife. Blake also admitted in a January interview that he was armed with a knife prior to being shot.

“I realized I had dropped my knife, had a little pocket knife. So I picked it up after I got off of him because they tased me and I fell on top of him,” Blake said in an interview that aired in January.

The police officers involved in the shooting were not charged by the Kenosha County district attorney. The district attorney determined the officers were acting in self-defense against an armed man who was resisting arrest. Prior to being shot seven times, Blake was Tased by police multiple times and fought with them on the ground. He picked up a knife off the ground and was going towards his car when he was shot. The incident, which was captured on video and shared over social media, inflamed racial tensions and led to riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

As a major outlet with an audience of millions, ESPN has an obligation to provide factual information to its audience. Allowing an announcer to share a lie about such a sensitive story that involves a tense, racial issue is unacceptable, especially given the influence it could have on their viewers. If they are going to integrate sensitive racial issues into their content as much as they have over the past year, they need to demand accuracy from their employees, and correct the record when significant errors are made.

UCLA players apologize to Chip Kelly after misleading article smears coach, school

Chip Kelly

UCLA football players apologized to head coach Chip Kelly on Friday after a letter they wrote went public and portrayed the coach and his program in a negative light.

UCLA players sent a letter to the program sharing some of their concerns regarding playing/practicing during the COVID-19 pandemic and seeking additional health protections. The letter came in response to ongoing meetings between coaches and players/parents about the subject matter.

Though the letter seemed to come as part of a conversation between the players and coaches, an article published by the Los Angeles Times about the situation on Friday trumped up the matter and made it seem like there was a mutiny with players rebelling against an oppressive coach and athletic program. That’s not at all the case.

Look at how the LA Times publicized their article via Twitter. They framed it as UCLA players “demanding” and saying they “don’t trust” Kelly’s program.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson shot down that notion, saying there is not a trust issue with Kelly or a time to bash the coach. He said the focus of the letter was on ensuring health protocols that will make the student-athletes more comfortable given the situation.

“I apologized to coach as I was unaware the letter would be given to the media for them to mislead,” Thompson-Robinson told The Athletic.

Yahoo’s Pete Thamel says that multiple UCLA players apologized during a team meeting as they did not realize the letter would go public. The players also acknowledged they should have gone to Kelly with their issues.

Further, Thompson-Robinson says Kelly agrees with the health/safety protocol demands from the student-athletes and supports them.

Thamel says UCLA’s athletic department had already addressed all the health concerns, such as providing an independent medical advisor and ability for players to anonymously report health protocol violations. Plus, UCLA’s athletic director assured student-athletes that they would not lose scholarships for not participating in sports given the situation.

The way the entire original story was framed was completely unfair to Kelly and UCLA. Neither the coach nor the school is acting unfairly, unsympathetically, or in a way that is not understanding of the student-athletes’ concerns. In fact, the coach and school seem to be working to help address those matters. Not only that, but the UCLA football player who was a representative on a committee of student-athletes addressing health concerns says all of the issues in the letter were already being addressed prior to the LA Times’ publishing of the article.

Deadspin makes change after backlash for Greg Hardy headline

Greg Hardy

Deadspin made a change to a headline for a story about Greg Hardy after receiving negative backlash online.

Deadspin is back in operation following a hiatus after their staff quit in protest over the new ownership’s “stick to sports” directive. The new staff is trying to keep the edginess that defined the site for the past decade, but they missed the mark with a headline and copy in a story Sunday morning.

The story was about Hardy winning his UFC fight at UFC 249 on Saturday night in Jacksonville. The headline from writer Dan Shapiro said “Greg Hardy Shows He Can Still Beat The Crap Out Of Men, Too”.

One sentence in the story said that Hardy was able to “fight back like no domestic abuse survivor has ever been able to before.”

Both the headline and sentence were references to Hardy’s past. The former NFL player was arrested in 2014 for allegedly strangling and threatening to kill his girlfriend. The photos from the incident told a disturbing story.

I understand trying to have an edgy tone for a website, but there is nothing funny about the crimes Hardy is alleged to have committed. It really makes you wonder how the site approved such a headline and story.

Reporter Will Reeve caught wearing no pants on ‘Good Morning America’

The world has undergone some significant changes in the past month or so, and for many people that has meant adjusting to life working from home. ABC reporter Will Reeve seems to be enjoying the change, though he should probably only be filmed from the waist up going forward.

Reeve was reporting from what appeared to be a home office during Tuesday’s edition of “Good Morning America,” and he was all business above the waist. However, the camera shot was a bit wider than Reeve expected it to be, as evidenced by his decision to not wear pants.

Reeve, who is the son of famous actor Christopher Reeve, addressed the incident with a funny statement on Twitter.

We’ve always heard rumors of reporters and anchors not bothering to wear pants while on the air at home, but it’s rare to see it in action. Reeve is never going to live that down.

NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the reporter was Tom Llamas. We apologize for the error.

Jay Glazer addresses backlash over hyping up coronavirus story

Jay Glazer faced a lot of negative backlash this week for the way he shared the news of Los Angeles Rams center testing positive for the coronavirus, and the reporter later tried to explain what happened.

Glazer has broken a number of huge NFL stories over the years, so fans were understandably excited when he tweeted earlier in the week about a big story he was sitting on. Because of all the hype his teaser created, Glazer decided to specify that the news he was going to share had nothing to do with a trade or transaction.

That didn’t sit well with fans. Many people felt it was inappropriate for Glazer to hype up a story about a player testing positive for COVID-19. In an appearance on the “Green Light Pod” with Chris Long, Glazer tried to justify his approach.

“(People) are joking and I’m trying to be like, no guys, there’s something serious. I have legit breaking news tomorrow night, but it’s serious,” Glazer explained. “They then pulled (that piece) out and just say, ‘I have big breaking news tomorrow night, it’s serious.’ So when you put that out alone, it’s like, ‘Hey, hey look at me I’ve got this (big story),’ but that’s not how it was.”

Glazer’s point seems to be that people interpreted his clarification as a teaser for big news, but the reason all the speculation erupted in the first place was because he teased the story. His explanation didn’t really cover why he chose to hype up a story about a player contracting an illness, which is what most fans ripped him apart for.

No matter how he wants to frame it, that was a bad look for Glazer. If he had to sit on the news for some reason, he should have done so quietly. Teasing a story about a player contracting an illness just feels wrong.

Fans upset over Jay Glazer teasing coronavirus news

Jay Glazer broke the news on Wednesday that Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen has become the first active NFL player to test positive for the coronavirus, but many people feel the way the FOX reporter revealed the information was inappropriate.

Glazer has broken a number of huge NFL scoops over the years, so fans were understandably excited when he teased some big news earlier this week. Glazer specified that the news he was going to break had nothing to do with an NFL transaction, and that only ended up making things worse.

Naturally, many fans and followers were still curious about the big piece of news Glazer was sitting on. Shortly after 11 p.m., he reported on “FOX Football Now” that Allen tested positive for COVID-19.

The way Glazer hyped up news related to the coronavirus and a person testing positive for it was not well received. His tweets were ratio’d by people who felt the delivery was in poor taste. Here’s a sampling of the reaction:

Plenty of other fans were simply upset that Glazer hyped something up that they felt wasn’t a big deal at all considering how many people have contracted COVID-19.

Glazer made it clear that his news had nothing to do with football, though that didn’t stop some people from thinking he had info to add to the rumor about Odell Beckham Jr. that was floating around. Either way, the fact that Glazer broke the news about Allen wasn’t the issue for most. Rather, it was the way he went about it.