I'm sure at least a few of you have heard this story already. But, since it involves ESPN, the controversy has been mostly quelled, limited to blogs and some local Chicago media. It is for this reason that I feel compelled to spread the message via this blog. Roughly 120 people read this daily, and while that number isn't astounding, it's 120 people who may be unaware of this issue.
The story started back on Wednesday. Deadspin posted a story from the Cubs blog GoatRiders.org concerning an e-mail from a production associate for Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith. The contents were intended to attract Cubs fans to a taping of the show, on which Dusty Baker was to be interviewed. The line that struck a chord with GoatRiders:
"You guys can definitely feel free to BOO Dusty if you so please."
If you read the above link, you'll know that GoatRiders are far from Dusty Baker fans. It's one thing to dislike a manager and wish for him to be replaced. It's another to condone an ambush.
I was outraged after reading this, mainly because I think Stephen A. possesses little journalistic talent, his voice and vocal style are insufferable, and he -- along with colleague Scoop Jackson -- constantly plays the race card. I'm also adamantly against sensationalism in any aspect of journalism, and this story reeked of it. Dusty is clearly on the verge of losing his job, and it looks like the Quite Frankly crew is trying to muster up some ratings by cutting Dusty with a rusty blade.
Friday rolls around, and Deadspin alerts us about an article in the Chicago Tribune, in which Stephen A. accuses Deadspin of doctoring the letter. Problem is, Deadspin didn't even print the letter; they merely linked to the story at Goatriders.org. Stephen A. denies that his staff had sent out such an e-mail, which is a blatant lie, since more than one Cubs blog received the same letter. Furthermore, a "corrected" e-mail was subsequently sent to the same recipients.
Finally, GoatRiders received an e-mail from ESPN:
"The production company did a thorough review and it was brought to my attention that I was mislead. The word 'boo' was used. I trusted the individual and apologize for giving bad information. At the end of the day, the situation has been dealt with."
So, in the end, Stephen A. accused others of lying, but, in fact, he himself lied or was grossly misled. He handed out hefty accusations that proved wildly false. The situation "has been dealt with," which I take to mean that the Assistant Audience Producer was at least reprimanded. But what for Smith? Is he going to walk away scott free after accusing innocent men of lying? How does he or his staff retain any shred of credibility?
I know it may seem like a lot of reading, but I seriously encourage you to explore all of the links in this story. It fills in a lot of the gaps, and these pieces are written by people with more direct knowledge of the situation. And, on top of that, they're rather fine writers worthy of your time.
I'll close with a quote from one of my personal favorite writers, Will Leitch of Deadspin. This quote was buried in the middle of the Chicago Tribune article, but I think it speaks volumes:
"I don't think the blogs care about Stephen A. Smith one way or another," said deadspin editor Will Leitch, who hails from Mattoon, Ill. "I haven't noticed a vendetta. It would be a surprise to me if they all manipulated it [the boo Dusty Baker e-mail]."