Bill Simmons’ Suspension and Journalism

From sixcolors

Bill Simmons’s error wasn’t in stating the obvious, that Roger Goodell and other NFL executives were almost certainly lying about the Ray Rice case in the hopes it would blow over. Simmons’s error was in thinking he could get away with going off ESPN’s script, which has been carefully crafted to appear journalistic and serious without jeopardizing the relationship with the source of their highest-rated programming.

I’ve been looking for a good take on the Simmons suspension for a few days now and found this post from Jason Snell. Jason is a tech journalist/editor gone independent. I respect him a lot.

The idea of ESPN trying to “appear journalistic” is fascinating. “Goodell is a liar” isn’t even a unique concept on ESPN. Michael Wilbon, speaking on the SVP and Russilo show, said that there were two options for framing the conversation around Goodell, he’s either incompetent or a liar. I suppose incompetence is enough of an out to be acceptable in ESPN and the NFL’s book.

This situation reminded me of the controversy (The Verge) over the “Best of Show” award that CNET took away from Dish’s Hopper set-top box because CNET’s parent company (CBS) was involved in litigation with Dish.

It illustrates a problem we’ve always had in the news industry: money. The NFL and ESPN have a huge financial relationship (15 billion dollars huge). Whether or not that relationship informed the suspension, the takedown of the podcast, or anything else, it clouds the issue for anyone watching events play out.

Six Colors, Journalistic Standards:

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