Thursday, April 5, 2012

Duplicity, thy name is CBS Sports

image Maybe you’ve read Gregg Doyel’s righteously indignant rant regarding the recent leak that former LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne scored a four out of 50 on the Wonderlic test at the NFL Scouting Combine last February. Doyel takes NBC’s to task for publishing what was supposed to be confidential information and mocking Claiborne for his apparent intellectual shortcomings.

Maybe Mike Florio’s mocking was a bit over the top. That’s for you to decide. But Doyel needs to check his own site’s performance in not only using player Wonderlic scores in news articles and blog postings, but also its heavy reliance on the test score in its draft analyses. In a number of these entries, the analysis notes that low Wonderlic scores could affect the prospects’ abilities to perform.

For a news organization that uses purportedly confidential information in hundreds of entries ranging as far back as the 2000 NFL draft class, having one of its senior writers go off on the use of such confidential information is duplicitous.

To suggest that a news organization like NBC should be ashamed of publishing potentially embarrassing inside information is laughable. Does anyone honestly believe that if a CBS Sports reporter was fed information about data that could affect where a potential first-round draft pick might end up, they wouldn’t publish it?

Does anyone believe they haven’t done it before?

An abnormally low Wonderlic score for a player considered a lock for a first-round pick is News. Whether there are factors that would contribute to the low score isn’t the issue, here. Whether the score represents an accurate measure of a player’s ability to perform in the NFL isn’t the issue here, either.

The issue here is that one news organization is bitching about another news organization publishing the news, and the fact that the bitcher’s organization is just as guilty as the bitchee’s in publishing and using the same information makes this episode even more hilarious.

The real belly laugh begins once you understand that it’s not just any CBS writer going after an NBC writer. It’s Gregg Doyel. The same guy who—with no basis in fact—used a 2008 column to accuse Nick Saban of “running off” players to make room for an incoming signing class. The same guy who—again with no basis in fact—accused Urban Meyer of being complicit in the leak of Cam Newton’s academic status when the latter was enrolled at Florida. The same guy who ignored medical fact and proclaimed that then Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was “one hit away from paralysis.”

Publishing confidential information—occasionally even when prohibited by law—is routinely done by news organizations, and not just in sports media. Mocking the subject of the news item may carry some baggage, but deliberate distortion is never permissible. Florio didn’t distort a thing. He reported the facts. Doyel has a demonstrable pattern of distortion.

Don’t bother calling, writing or tweeting to Doyel about his struggles with honesty. He’ll do the equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and going “lalala I CAN’T HEAR YOU” – He’ll block you.

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