ESPN’s Adam Schefter amazes us once again with his journalistic integrity

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Adam Schefter isn't a real reporter yet.

Adam Schefter isn’t a real reporter yet.
Image: AP

The NFL-Adam Schefter pipeline hit another node yesterday when the ESPN insider reported a tip-off from the Minnesota Vikings agent Dalvin Cook, claiming that Cook was a victim of domestic violence and extortion. Just hours later, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported that Cook’s ex-girlfriend filed a lawsuit against him on Tuesday accusing him of assault, beatings and false detention. The full Star Tribune piece is available here, and details the allegations of both sides.

Now, we are not here to express an opinion on the ongoing litigation, nor on the dispute itself, which from the reports appears to be a complicated case with disparate charges from both Cook and the woman involved, Gracelyn Trimble, but to reflect on the reporting and narrative that has surrounded the allegations in the last few days.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that Cook’s agent, Zac Hiller, knew this lawsuit would come up and wanted to anticipate it and be able to control the narrative. So Hiller turned to everyone’s favorite NFL sheriff, Adam Schefter. It’s no secret that Schefter, and ESPN by extension, aren’t exactly the most impartial of journalists. There are many reasons why the ESPN and NFL partnership remains close – 2.6 billion reasons, to be exact, but that partnership has created a very specific brand of non-threatening commentary that has come to dominate the sports reporting industry as ESPN sets the standard, attracting viewers and readers through trustworthy name recognition. Sure, their hosts and writers may criticize underperforming players, managerial decisions, and even situations like Jon Gruden’s emails, but bite the hand that feeds them? Not really an option.

And in this case, the NFL doesn’t just give them the broadcast rights. Agents, executives, and other members of the league have long trusted Schefter, which has allowed him to be able to obtain valuable information and tell important stories, but which also puts him in the precarious position of keeping those sources happy. Hey could verify these stories with his source, but for the most part, him takes what his sources tell him in words. You don’t dig. And it works for the most part, until cases like this emerge.It was an unwitting, if perhaps reluctant, tool in Cook’s goal to anticipate Trimble’s allegations and frame the narrative to put himself in a positive light in the public eye. Again, while this case has yet to go to court and has domestic violence allegations on both sides, only one side will get the public benefit of the doubt, not just because of his fame, but because Adam Schefter broke up. only half of the news at the behest of Hiller.

This isn’t the first time Schefter has been criticized for doing the NFL’s public relations work when dealing with players accused of harming women. In 2016, Schefter interviewed former Dallas Cowboy and current UFC fighter Greg Hardy, who was accused of assaulting an ex-girlfriend in 2014, just around the time the NFL was trying to fix the public image by hiring domestic violence after Ray Rice. accident. Schefter’s interview might not even be called that – after Hardy denied any wrongdoing, Schefter not only insisted on the matter, but went into Dan Patrick’s show to refer to Hardy as “this is a guy who is managed to say the wrong things at the wrong time “and” a changed kind of guy “, even voicing Hardy’s insistence that he hadn’t assaulted this woman, despite photographic evidence being available at the time.

Schefter later apologized for not asking for comment “from all sides” in Cook’s story and promised to “slow down” on sensitive issues like this. Despite the NFL’s alleged zero-tolerance rule, allegations of domestic violence against NFL players and other professional athletes are often not already taken seriously by the public or the league. Aside from a video or confession, the league and the public are more willing to put domestic abuse allegations under the rug, so easily forgotten with a touchdown or two. Deshaun Watson is the latest case of this, and there are many more names to list as the NFL unveiled their efforts to prevent domestic violence – Josh Brown, Adrian Peterson, Tyreek Hill, Antonio Brown – and the list goes on. . And ignoring the allegations against Cook in this case, and simply reporting their litigation and victimization, plays a role in this tendency to sweep the domestic violence allegations of professional athletes under the carpet, with fans more than happy to hear. turn an eye to the flaws and flaws of their idols. Cook has the platform to stand up and declare himself the victim in this situation and turn public support in his own way, despite the fact that no one really knows the whole story.

With no background knowledge on the dynamics of domestic abuse, Schefter has now given more ammo to fans who want to deny any possible wrongdoing on Cook’s part. Why are people so willing to take to the streets with pitchforks and torches for Cook’s claim that he was a victim of domestic violence, and yet they are so willing to demonize and attack anyone who is a victim at the hands of an NFL player – this case not be different? There is an answer there, of course, but it is a disappointing reflection of the values ​​that, after all, are dear to us.

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