A rush to reserve judgement?

Earlier this week the Associated Press reported that a civil suit had been filed against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, alleging that he sexually assaulted a woman last June.

As one would expect, news of the allegations spread quickly around the web and sports talk radio.  It’s not every day that a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback is accused of rape. But there is one media outlet where the story never surfaced – ESPN. The self-glossed “worldwide leader in sports” issued a “do not report” order to their staff forbidding them to discuss the allegations. For more than two days the network refused to utter a word about the fact that one of the NFL’s biggest names has been accused of rape in a civil lawsuit.

ESPN has since attempted to clarify their position. “Based on the sensitive nature of the story and other factors … we initially exercised caution and did not report it,” they said in a statement issued last night.

Which begs the question. If ESPN was merely exercising caution and reserving judgment, why wasn’t the same courtesy shown to Kobe Bryant when similar allegations were made about him back in 2003? (Could race be a factor?) Or might they have some other motivation? Say … maybe … not casting a dark shadow on a show their parent network is premiering in a couple weeks which features Roethlisberger?

Either way you look at it, ESPN has some ‘splainin’ to do. And they have a whole lot more egg on their face today than they ever would have if they had just run the story when it broke.

8 thoughts on “A rush to reserve judgement?

  1. race must certainly be considered…but, there’s also the fact that kobe is a JERK, just like bonds. people dont’ like him. i think that is as much if not more a part of it.

  2. They didn’t report it because of some relationship they had with him over something worth money.

    As far as the suit goes its a while later and just a civil suit?? If this was such a terrible act where is the criminal suit and the investigation?

    When I see these where its just civil for money at ohh lets say 1 week before training camp to try and get a quick settlement after a long time of not reporting to the cops or anything its a bit suspect to me.

    The excuse of ohh I was afraid to lose my job is a bit thin esp in the times we live in today where every allegation is taken very very seriously.

    Then again I was sure the Duke players were guilty and look how that ended up.

  3. Let me just make clear that I don’t think ESPN’s decision not to run this story is racially motivated. That’s just crazy. Entire corporations don’t have a racial agenda. Most of them anyway.

    But seeing how carefully everyone is treating this story does stir up some of those questions. No one wants to really say anything other than “let’s see how this plays out.” Which is fair. I mean, as Pdog said, it is a civil case after all.

    At the same time, I do have to admit that one of my initial thoughts was “would we be so cautious and reserve judgement if Big Ben were black?” I mean, we all had Kobe convicted in our minds the second we heard he was arrested. But ultimately that case was dismissed and the charges dropped.

    So that element is a part of this story to some extent.

    But I agree with Pdog. The timing is suspicious, as is the fact that she never went to the cops. But there are alot of women who get raped and are too ashamed, embarrassed or afraid to go to the police, so that’s not reason enough for me to discount her allegations.

  4. yeah if you look into the suit just a tiny bit it seems like it might be a bitter ex after some money, but who knows. espn is covering their a*& just like everyone else, thinking of watching out for their own interests. though i think if it was a serious criminal investigation they wouldn’t have had a choice but to report it.

  5. Wow! I haven’t been here since Lent!

    I’d say that i judged Ben guilty immediately. It’s not fair…but i tend to think that superstars are incapable of believing that a woman can tell them no.

    in addition, i work with a girl who grew up in the same town as Ben; she had nothing flattering to say about him as a person in relation to females.

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