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Old 07-23-2009, 09:49 AM   #4
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I think the bigges story here is that ESPN is refusing to cover this case.

Does ESPN's "Do Not Report" Policy Make Any Sense?

Still not a peep from ESPN on Ben Roethlisberger's legal troubles—and once again no Blog Buzz on SportsCenter—so as long as Big Ben keeps his mouth shut they're standing behind their decision to not stand behind this story.

Why is that again? Just to be clear, here's a more official statement that ESPN gave to Pro Football Talk:

"At this point, we are not reporting the allegations against Ben Roethlisberger because no criminal complaint has been filed. As far as we know, this is a civil lawsuit that Roethlisberger has yet to address publicly."

The implication is that if there's no criminal action and the athlete himself (or herself) has not publicly commented on it, then ESPN considers it a private matter and not "news." Several readers have already called them on this point, mentioning the Shannon Brown case, the Tony Zendejas case (filed Monday), or the O.J. case, among others. However, in all those instances, ESPN could claim that there was a criminal complaint at least tangentially related to the story. But in all those instances, the story itself was about the civil case. They have also covered many, many purely civil cases like the NFL's current anti-trust fracas, the mess regarding the Dallas Cowboys practice bubble, and—the most glaring of all—the Roberto Alomar "AIDS rumors." It seems pretty clear that they're being selective with their enforcement.

It's also extremely disingenuous to say that Roethlisberger has yet to address the case publicly when an official statement from his lawyer—who is presumably authorized to speak on his behalf—was the very first thing we read about the case. ESPN routinely considers lawyers, agents, and even family members to be valid spokespeople and this is no different.
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