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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Media

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:

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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:
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
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Report: CBS will make aggressive offer to try to keep Tony Romo

Tony Romo CBS

Much has been made of ESPN’s impending efforts to convince Tony Romo to join the network, but it does not sound like CBS will be letting him go without a fight.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, CBS is aware that Romo will demand a “huge increase” in salary and is prepared to compete aggressively to prevent him from leaving the network. The network wants to keep Romo, in part because they do not want to have to hire a new lead analyst to pair with Jim Nantz in a year in which CBS will be broadcasting the Super Bowl.

CBS is confident, as they have the contractual right to match any offer made by another network in the Romo sweepstakes.

Reports indicate that Romo could be offered north of $10 million by ESPN. The onus would be on CBS to match that, but it sounds like they might be motivated to do so.

Report: Greg Olsen has FOX Sports analyst job if he wants it

Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen’s NFL future is up in the air, but he certainly appears to have a future in the broadcasting industry if he wants it.

According to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, FOX Sports executives have made clear that the Carolina Panthers tight end will have an NFL analyst role with the network if he has interest in it.

Olsen did guest analyst work on a game for FOX back in 2017 while on injured reserve, and received good reviews. He turns 35 in March and has battled numerous foot injuries since 2017, but didn’t even seem to consider retirement last offseason under similar circumstances. We haven’t heard anything about Olsen’s 2020 plans yet, but given the consistent interest in him as a broadcaster, he can probably keep playing without risking his future career option by doing so.

Washington Post workers protest after reporter Felicia Sonmez suspended over Kobe Bryant Twitter activity

Kobe Bryant

Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave this week after she called attention to Kobe Bryant’s rape case hours after the NBA legend died in a helicopter crash, and Sonmez’s colleagues have come to her defense.

In a statement on Monday addressed to Washington Post editors Marty Baron and Tracy Grant, the Washington Post Guild ripped the publication for suspending Sonmez and not taking the proper steps to ensure her safety. Sonmez is a survivor of sexual assault, and the statement said the Post failed to support her two years ago when she shared her story and was attacked by other outlets. The letter also defended Sonmez’s right to share information on the sexual assault allegation against Bryant.

“We understand the hours after Bryant’s death Sunday were a fraught time to share reporting about past accusations of sexual assault. The loss of such a beloved figure, and of so many other lives, is a tragedy,” the statement read. “But we believe it is our responsibility as a news organization to tell the public the whole truth as we know it — about figures and institutions both popular and unpopular, at moments timely and untimely.”

The letter went on to say that the Post has failed to offer a clear explanation for why Sonmez was placed on leave. Freelance journalist Matthew Keys was told by a person at the Washington Post that Sonmez was not suspended for calling attention to Bryant’s rape case, but rather for publishing the full name of a person who she says emailed her to harass and intimidate her over her Bryant-related Twitter activity.

Sonmez began by tweeting a link to a story about Bryant’s rape case. When she was immediately ratio’ed for it, she doubled down by lecturing others who responded negatively. That included publishing the full name of someone who emailed her. Sonmez eventually deleted the tweets, likely after receiving pressure from the higher-ups at the Post.

The sexual assault allegations against Kobe are part of his story, but it was completely unfair of Sonmez to make that the sole focus of her coverage hours after Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people died in a tragic accident. It’s possible — if not likely — that the Post used Sonmez’s decision to tweet an emailer’s full name as an excuse for a suspension that was coming either way.

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:
UConn honors Gianna Bryant with own jersey, spot on the bench
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
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
Media errors, rumors, poor judgment run rampant in reporting of Kobe Bryant news
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)

Report: Jessica Mendoza likely to be removed from ‘Sunday Night Baseball’

Jessica Mendoza

Jessica Mendoza’s time in the “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast booth is reportedly over.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN is preparing to remove Mendoza from the Sunday night booth. Play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian’s status is also in question; only analyst Alex Rodriguez reportedly has received definitive assurances about his spot in the booth being safe.

ESPN has yet to inform Mendoza of such a decision, which leaves a bit of room to backtrack if the network chooses to. She signed a multi-million dollar deal with the network last year and is expected to work in the studio or on weeknight games.

Vasgersian could stay, but ESPN is also looking at Jon Sciambi and Karl Ravech as possible replacements if they decide not to bring the current play-by-play man back. David Cone remains a candidate to partner with Rodriguez as an analyst.

Mendoza was sharply criticized for her comments on Mike Fiers’ whistleblowing, though that does not appear to have been the motivating factor behind ESPN’s reshuffle.

The only thing clear right now is that ESPN intends to build the booth around Rodriguez, and everything appears based on how well individuals mesh with him.

Stephen A. Smith responds in video to Joe Rogan’s criticism

Stephen A. Smith and Joe Rogan are at odds over the ESPN personality’s analysis of the main event at UFC 246 last weekend.

Smith, who is an MMA outsider and doesn’t often comment on the sport, provided commentary alongside Rogan and Michael Eaves on ESPN after Conor McGregor beat Cowboy Cerrone in the main event.

Smith was critical of Cerrone for lasting just 40 seconds and opined that the spotlight was too much for the veteran fighter. Smith also said that the quick win over Cerrone did not prove anything about whether or not McGregor was “back” after a long layoff.

Rogan, who has been an interviewer for the UFC since 1997 and is an accomplished mixed martial artist himself, took issue with Smith’s commentary. Rogan feels Smith was too harsh on Cerrone.

Here is what Rogan said on the “JRE MMA Show” podcast, as transcribed by MMA Junkie.

“For Conor to smash ‘Cowboy’ like that in front of his wife, his kid, his grandma and the whole world. You’ve got to have some respect for that man, and this sport demands a different perspective. It’s not the same thing as a ball going into a hoop. It’s not the same thing as crossing a line with a football. It’s different. It’s very intense and very personal, and it’s also very (expletive) dangerous and to play it off like it’s just a game, I don’t agree with it,” Rogan said.

Rogan also said the commentator’s shtick doesn’t belong in MMA

“That’s a bad look for everybody,” Rogan said. “It’s a bad look for ESPN, it’s a bad look for [Smith], it’s a bad look for the sport. There’s other people that can do this. … We have plenty of people out there who understand the sport. There’s plenty of them. But the thing about him is he’s really popular. (He just got a contract extension) because his personality is so fun. He’s a fun guy to watch and people love (expletive)-talking and they love people arguing about (expletive) and one person is better at arguing. Stephen A. Smith is really good at that stuff. But it’s not the place for MMA. It’s just not the place. It’s not the same thing.”

You can read more of Rogan’s comments at MMA Junkie.

On Saturday, Smith responded with this video where he focused on and defended his take that McGregor did not prove anything.

McGregor got involved in the discussion and told Smith to apologize for not being more respectful of the way Cerrone lost.

Smith doesn’t know the intricacies of MMA, so hearing him talk is infuriating to the hardcore fans and knowledgeable commentators. But ESPN brings Smith on for his hot takes delivered in his entertaining style, and that’s exactly what he did. And now he’s created a beef out of it, which is why he’s paid the big bucks.

ESPN wants to help grow the sport, and having someone like Smith on to do his thing helps appeal to more people. But at the same time, if you’re going to do that, you have to work hard not to alienate your core fans who are the the heart of the business.

Here is the original video of the postfight analysis from Rogan and Smith.

Report: ESPN interested in Chipper Jones as baseball analyst

Chipper Jones

Hall of Famer Chipper Jones could be coming to a television near you if ESPN has its way.

The network has interest in hiring the former Atlanta Braves star as a game analyst, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. This comes after Jones partnered with play-by-play man Boog Sciambi for a game last year, which impressed ESPN executives.

Jones has also been courted by FOX in the past. It’s unclear how interested he is or how close this is to becoming a reality. Marchand reports that Jones is not expected to be a candidate for Sunday Night Baseball, where network executives are said to be contemplating changes.

The Hall of Famer’s cameo last year was good, and he proved to be a capable storyteller, so it’s easy to see what ESPN sees. David Ross, a key part of ESPN’s baseball coverage, left to manage the Cubs, so Jones would make a ton of sense as a replacement.