ESPN’s serves whopper over New Orleans Saints Loomis’s eavesdropping bit

 whopper    So Louisiana State Police investigators have spent your tax dollars and a couple of months discovering a fact that most of a sane civilization already knew. Saints GM Mickey Loomis did not order Superdome wiring rigged to eavesdrop on opposing coaches' booth-to-field communications. In another announcement that did not receive much attention, the LSP investigators announced that former Governor Huey Long is still dead.

     Monday's revelation was probably the biggest no-news news conference the LSP have ever held, but don't blame them. It just points up the fabrication that ESPN reporter John Barr tried to perpetuate onto a vulnerable and willing public with his allegations about the eavesdropping equipment. The report came at a time when the Saints were being accused of every impropriety since the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, for which they may yet suffer further suspensions. Any allegation of impropriety in the wake of Bountygate automatically carried some perception of truth, which created a feeding frenzy of news sleuths looking behind every tree for a suspicious Indian.



Story about: ESPN, New Orleans Saints, Mickey Loomis, John Barr, bountygate, eavesdropping   

   Local attorney Chick Foret, who appears frequently as a legal authority for local news outlets, told WWL-AM that ESPN's Barr called him asking questions that suggested he was digging for dirt. Foret said Barr did not ask him about the alleged Loomis eavesdropping, which he apparently discovered later. He was looking for dirt, any dirt, and finally found it, whether he could prove it or not.

     As one who toiled in the newspaper business in the previous century, I learned that no editor would go to press with a revealing story without multiple sources confirming the alleged offense. Today, the reporting of anything that passes as news is more important than the accurate reporting of news. And that is another thing that troubles me about the Times-Picayune's decision to emphasize their on-line product at the expense of the newspaper, which soon will appear only three days a week. A newspaper has at least a 24-hour cycle to get a story right. The instant news frenzy demands that you get it out and beat the other guys who are trying to do the same. It’s like the mantra of the impetuous: "Ready, Fire, Aim!" Only in ESPN's case, it was "Discover it, Air it, and Hope it's right." ESPN's apparent reliance on a single unnamed source in the eavesdropping case brought the entire report into question.

     To suggest the commission of a crime is not the same as proving it. But that is the way of today's instant news frenzy. Such reporting is as close to Journalism as the Kardashians are to the Waltons. ESPN should know that by now. To tweak an old George Grizzard book title: Elvis is still dead, and if ESPN editors have any scruples, they shouldn't be feeling too well themselves this morning.

by Jim W. Miller

Miller's new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com



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