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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Policing the Media

Tony Grossi suspended by ESPN for calling Baker Mayfield ‘f—ing midget’ on hot mic

Baker Mayfield

ESPN Cleveland reporter Tony Grossi has never gotten along with Baker Mayfield, and the opinion Grossi shared of the Browns quarterback on Tuesday has resulted in an indefinite suspension.

Grossi was caught on a hot mic at the NFL Combine referring to Mayfield as a “f—ing midget.” The context of the conversation, which Grossi did not realize was being aired live, was that the Browns have missed out on a number of top quarterbacks over the years and are now stuck with Mayfield, whom Grossi has openly criticized in the past. The conversation was aired on a video feed by TheLandonDemand.com while “The Really Big Show” on ESPN Cleveland/WKNR 850 was at a commercial break.

As you might expect, Grossi’s remark went viral on Twitter. It wasn’t long before ESPN announced that Grossi has been suspended indefinitely. The network issued a statement saying it will not tolerate the use of “derogatory language that demeans other groups of people.”

Grossi has bashed the Browns numerous times in the past for drafting Mayfield. The issues began even before that, as Grossi accused Mayfield of demanding first-class flight accommodations for pre-draft visits and painted the former Oklahoma star as a high-maintenance prima donna. Mayfield has since been openly defiant when fielding questions from Grossi. The quarterback walked out of a press conference last season following a heated exchange with Grossi.

Grossi used to write for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and he was pulled from the Browns beat years ago for criticizing the team’s owner in a tweet.

Matt Gutman suspended by ABC for false report about Kobe Bryant’s family

Kobe Bryant family

Reporter Matt Gutman has been suspended by ABC for his false report about Kobe Bryant’s family on Sunday.

Gutman was speaking live on ABC within hours after TMZ first reported the news that Kobe had died in the helicopter crash. At the time, there were few confirmed details but numerous rumors and speculation about the situation.

Gutman added to the confusion in a big way when he reported live on air that he was hearing all four of Bryant’s daughters were on the helicopter and died. Reports later indicated Bryant’s second-oldest daughter, Gianna, was the only one of Bryant’s four daughters on the helicopter.

Gutman remained on air for ABC for several more hours, though he apologized for his inaccurate report.

“Reporting the facts accurately is the cornerstone of our journalism,” an ABC News representative told The Los Angeles Times in a statement. “As he acknowledged on Sunday, Matt Gutman’s initial reporting was not accurate and failed to meet our editorial standards.”

Gutman also issued a statement on the matter.

“We are in the business of holding people accountable,” Gutman said, via the LA Times. “And I hold myself accountable for a terrible mistake, which I deeply regret. I want to personally apologize to the Bryant family for this wrenching loss and any additional anguish my report caused.”

Gutman, 42, has been with ABC since 2008.

More Larry Brown Sports coverage of Kobe Bryant’s death:

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Other victims of the helicopter crash:
John Altobelli, junior college baseball coach, also died in helicopter crash
Christina Mauser, girls’ basketball coach, among the helicopter crash victims
Sarah Chester, daughter Payton were also killed in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash
Ara Zobayan was the pilot in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

Tributes to Kobe:
Vanessa Bryant posts first Instagram message since death of Kobe, Gianna
NBA players changing jersey numbers in honor of Kobe Bryant
Bill Belichick shares touching anecdote in tribute to Kobe Bryant
UConn honors Gianna Bryant with own jersey, spot on the bench
Video: Shaq gets emotional talking about Kobe Bryant on TNT
LeBron James had inspirational message for Lakers during meeting about Kobe
Dallas Mavericks retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey
Video: Raptors, Spurs start game with amazing tribute to Kobe Bryant
Shaq posts heartfelt tribute to Kobe Bryant
Michael Jordan releases statement on death of ‘little brother’ Kobe Bryant
Video: Doc Rivers breaks down crying talking about Kobe Bryant
Phil Jackson calls Kobe Bryant ‘a chosen one’ in statement on his death
NBA commissioner Adam Silver issues statement on death of Kobe Bryant
Video: Dwyane Wade posts emotional message reacting to Kobe Bryant’s death
Kendrick Perkins extends olive branch to Kevin Durant after Kobe Bryant’s death
Gilbert Arenas vows to begin coaching career like Kobe Bryant urged him to
Video: Emotional Mike Breen sums up NBA world’s emotions about Kobe Bryant’s death
Trae Young’s huge game was full of Kobe Bryant-related statistical coincidences

More coverage:
Video: Kobe Bryant helicopter audio released
Investigators release chilling drone footage from Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site
Media errors, rumors, poor judgment run rampant in reporting of Kobe Bryant news
TMZ says they had permission from Kobe’s people to report Bryant had died
NBA postpones Tuesday’s Lakers-Clippers game after Kobe Bryant’s death
Shaq says he had not spoken to Kobe Bryant in nearly four years
Kobe Bryant recently filed for ‘Mambacita’ trademark for daughter Gianna
Kobe Bryant checked in on Shaq’s son Shareef morning of helicopter crash
No, Rick Fox did not die in helicopter crash that killed Kobe, Gianna Bryant
Lakers fans start memorial to Kobe Bryant outside Staples Center
Kobe Bryant’s last tweet was congratulating LeBron James on passing him
Sports world stunned over Kobe Bryant news
Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash – dead at 41

Don’t miss any news
– Follow Larry Brown Sports on Twitter
Join our Facebook group
– Download the Larry Brown Sports app on your iOS device
– Subscribe to our newsletter (sign up here)

TMZ says they had permission from Kobe’s people to report Bryant had died

Kobe Bryant

TMZ has been a target for criticism ever since being first to report on Sunday morning that Kobe Bryant had died. There are standards for proper decorum in journalism dictating that the media should not be the ones to break news of a death to the deceased’s family, and that families and loved ones should not find out about a death through the media.

Some took aim at TMZ for releasing news of Kobe’s death, believing that the outlet violated these standards. Even Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva seemed to wag his finger at TMZ, saying his department would take precaution before releasing the identity of victims because he did not want families learning about deaths through TMZ.

Villanueva’s point made complete sense, but some interpreted his words to mean that TMZ had violated this standard in reporting the Kobe news.

TMZ founder Harvey Levin says that’s not the case.

Levin joined KNX In Depth and said that his organization had permission from Bryant’s “people” to release the news.

“We dealt with Kobe’s people for an hour before we published this story, and we were told very clearly that she had been notified, number one. I got the tip initially from law enforcement from a source that I’ve had for years,” Levin said.

Levin was likely talking about Kobe’s wife Vanessa when saying “she.”

“We talked to Kobe’s people, and we were dealing with them for an hour before we published the story, and they said ‘go for it.’ They all knew, and they said go for it, and they said she knew.”

Someone brought up the issue that there were other people aboard the helicopter who also died and asked whether TMZ knew those families had learned about the deaths first. Levin called that a fair criticism, but then turned the tables and asked KNX whether they would have sat on news of Kobe Bryant’s death for eight hours until authorities released the names of the victims. The hosts acknowledged that would be a difficult question.

But to answer a question that some were asking, according to Levin, no, Vanessa Bryant did not first hear about Kobe’s death through TMZ.

More Larry Brown Sports coverage of Kobe Bryant’s death:

Don’t miss any news
– Follow Larry Brown Sports on Twitter
Join our Facebook group
– Download the Larry Brown Sports app on your iOS device
– Subscribe to our newsletter (sign up here)

Other victims of the helicopter crash:
John Altobelli, junior college baseball coach, also died in helicopter crash
Christina Mauser, girls’ basketball coach, among the helicopter crash victims
Sarah Chester, daughter Payton were also killed in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash
Ara Zobayan was the pilot in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

Tributes to Kobe:
NBA players changing jersey numbers in honor of Kobe Bryant
Bill Belichick shares touching anecdote in tribute to Kobe Bryant
UConn honors Gianna Bryant with own jersey, spot on the bench
Video: Shaq gets emotional talking about Kobe Bryant on TNT
Dallas Mavericks retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey
Video: Raptors, Spurs start game with amazing tribute to Kobe Bryant
Shaq posts heartfelt tribute to Kobe Bryant
Michael Jordan releases statement on death of ‘little brother’ Kobe Bryant
Video: Doc Rivers breaks down crying talking about Kobe Bryant
Phil Jackson calls Kobe Bryant ‘a chosen one’ in statement on his death
NBA commissioner Adam Silver issues statement on death of Kobe Bryant
Video: Dwyane Wade posts emotional message reacting to Kobe Bryant’s death
Kendrick Perkins extends olive branch to Kevin Durant after Kobe Bryant’s death
Gilbert Arenas vows to begin coaching career like Kobe Bryant urged him to
Video: Emotional Mike Breen sums up NBA world’s emotions about Kobe Bryant’s death
Trae Young’s huge game was full of Kobe Bryant-related statistical coincidences

More coverage:
Investigators release chilling drone footage from Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site
Video: Kobe Bryant helicopter audio released
Media errors, rumors, poor judgment run rampant in reporting of Kobe Bryant news
TMZ says they had permission from Kobe’s people to report Bryant had died
NBA postpones Tuesday’s Lakers-Clippers game after Kobe Bryant’s death
Kobe Bryant recently filed for ‘Mambacita’ trademark for daughter Gianna
Kobe Bryant checked in on Shaq’s son Shareef morning of helicopter crash
No, Rick Fox did not die in helicopter crash that killed Kobe, Gianna Bryant
Lakers fans start memorial to Kobe Bryant outside Staples Center
Kobe Bryant’s last tweet was congratulating LeBron James on passing him
Sports world stunned over Kobe Bryant news
Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash – dead at 41

Don’t miss any news
– Follow Larry Brown Sports on Twitter
Join our Facebook group
– Download the Larry Brown Sports app on your iOS device
– Subscribe to our newsletter (sign up here)

Media errors, rumors, poor judgment run rampant in reporting of Kobe Bryant news

Kobe Bryant

Sunday’s heartbreaking news about Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others dying in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California is among the most tragic sports stories we have covered. The news was nothing short of shocking, and it spread throughout the world instantaneously. Unfortunately, the confluence of widespread interest in the matter, uncertainty over what happened, and the irresponsible actions of some reporters, resulted in misinformation, rumors and inaccuracies spreading.

MISINFORMATION

From the moment TMZ reported that Kobe Bryant had died in the helicopter crash, incorrect information spread, which is not unusual as a story of this magnitude unfolds. To start, TMZ wrote in its original report that Bryant was survived by wife Vanessa and his four daughters. This turned out to be incorrect, as we later learned that Bryant’s second-oldest daughter, Gianna, also died.

TMZ also said five people died in the crash. So did the LA County Sheriff’s office.

The county sheriff’s office later told the public nine people died — the pilot and eight passengers.

Larry Brown Sports included both pieces of information in our original story — that Bryant was survived by his wife and daughters — and that five people died. We take responsibility for sharing this information that later turned out to be incorrect, though we believe both were trusted sources — especially an official authority like the county sheriff.

Another major issue was watching reporters trying to figure out in real-time who had died in the crash.

ABC reporter Matt Gutman said on live TV that all four of Kobe’s daughters were believed to be on the helicopter and dead.

Gutman did not state that as an official report, nor did he cite where the belief came from, and no other outlets confirmed the report at the time. Other outlets like TMZ and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed that only Gianna had died.

The story was of too great importance and Gutman was on too large of a stage to pass along something so significant in such a casual manner. But video from Gutman’s report spread throughout Twitter, causing many to believe all of Kobe’s daughters had died, multiplying the tragedy by tenfold.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter later said that Kobe’s three other daughters and wife Vanessa were NOT in the crash.

Then there was some rumor that former Laker Rick Fox was on the helicopter. That rumor did not appear to originate from any actual legitimate source, but for some reason began spreading on Twitter and had to be shot down. To confirm: Rick Fox did NOT die in the crash.

MISTAKES

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Anatomy of an Astros cheating rumor: ‘Carlos Beltran’s niece’ is actually a phony Twitter account

Jose Altuve buzzer

The sports world went wild on Thursday with allegations that some of the Houston Astros’ top players wore electronic buzzing devices that communicated what pitch was coming during their at-bats. The allegations of this extremely advanced form of high-tech cheating actually had been around for two months, but the story received widespread attention on Thursday thanks to a push from a mysterious Twitter account that seemingly had new credibility.

In this story, we will get to the bottom of the Twitter account responsible for the rumor, and help set the record straight, giving you the facts of the situation.

(more…)

Booger McFarland’s analysis in the Bills-Texans playoff game was so bad

Booger McFarland

The biggest mismatch of the Wild Card Game between the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans on Saturday was Booger McFarland trying to analyze the game in real-time.

The ESPN announcer, who is frequently criticized for his analysis on “Monday Night Football,” gave critics even more ammunition during the game. In the second quarter, he blamed Josh Allen for a pass when everyone else thought the mistake was on wide receiver John Brown.

Later in the game, when the spotlight was on, Booger could not have been worse. In the final 20 seconds of regulation, McFarland suggested the Bills, who had no timeouts, run a draw on third down and then spike it. It obviously didn’t occur to him that the Bills would be spiking on fourth down in that scenario.

People noticed that blunder right away.

McFarland is paid to give high-level analysis and expertise. He could not have been more off-the-mark in both regards.

McFarland also said the Bills would have to bring out the field goal team, even though they already had the unit on the field.

Both McFarland and Joe Tessitore also had their analysis completely incorrect when the referees were reviewing a spot on a Cole Beasley catch. The refs correctly gave Beasley a first down while Tessitore and McFarland were talking about where he was touched in midair, as if that mattered.

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” crew has been criticized since Jason Witten was a part of it last year. Witten returned to the NFL, McFarland joined Tessitore in the booth, and the analysis is just as bad as it was before. They need to clean things up because this is embarrassing.

Urban Meyer’s daughters upset with ESPN anchor John Anderson over ‘family’ dig

Nicki Meyer dad Urban

Urban Meyer’s daughters are upset with an ESPN anchor for taking a dig at the former Ohio State head coach while reading a highlight on Saturday night.

Meyer attended the Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal game on Saturday in Arizona between his former team and Clemson. Towards the end of the game, ESPN showed Meyer on the sidelines. That clip was included in ESPN’s highlight package after the game, and anchor John Anderson decided to crack a joke while reading it.

“Look at Urban Meyer. He was going to spend time with his family, went to this game instead,” Anderson joked.

That was a reference to Meyer leaving his job at Florida supposedly to spend time with his family, only to go coach Ohio State the following season. I’ve made a joke about it in the past. So have others. Anderson did on Saturday, and the Meyer family did not find it to be funny.

Nicki Meyer, Urban’s oldest daughter, took issue with the comment, calling it “bad” and telling ESPN to “have some class.” Nicki’s husband Corey Dennis is on Ohio State’s coaching staff, which helps explain why the family was there.

Urban’s younger daughter Gigi also commented to say the family was at the Fiesta Bowl all week.

And Urban’s wife Shelley said she was “deeply offended” by the comment, noting Urban was there in a TV capacity and that their son Nate was standing next to the coach.

The comment was clearly a joke and jab at Meyer, but his family took it literally and doesn’t care.

Their reaction should not come as a surprise. They have repeatedly shown they are offended by anything they perceive as a slight towards Urban and that they will fiercely defend him. Their loyalty towards him is unwavering.

H/T The Spun