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.