By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Don’t ask, don’t tell

Media Nation regular O-Fish-L passes along a curious item. It seems that Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi was rumored to have died during the past day or so. Mr. Fish writes: “Now I’ve called the Herald, Fox 25 and WEEI to check on this. All three had heard the rumor and quickly dismissed it as false. Someone at Fox told me that Bruschi’s agent asked them not to run a story dispelling the rumor because it might adversely affect the Bruschi children.”

Obviously this was not a particularly outlandish rumor, given Bruschi’s stroke history. Fortunately, he is alive and well.

Anyway, it appears that the first person to make any public mention of this story was Tom Curran, who posted a blog item at NBCSports.com — and Curran whacks the media, writing:

How did it get this far? Well, the answer won’t really drape the journalism industry in glory.

Apparently, an anonymous e-mail to a TV affiliate in Boston came in Monday afternoon saying that Bruschi had gone to Jesus.

Before getting confirmation from the Patriots that Bruschi was (and is) indeed alive, the rumor made its way to other media types putting them on red alert as well. This caused them to start calling every contact they could to find out if tragedy had struck Bruschi and the Patriots again. And they called two friends and so on, and so on.

So reporters aren’t supposed to ask questions? Isn’t that what we do? It would have been disgusting if someone had put out an unconfirmed report that Bruschi had died, but no one did that. And it was Curran, after all, who broke the so-called news that this rumor was circulating.

Mr. Fish adds: “Trust me when I tell you that this one had legs and caused more panic than the ‘Great Blue Hill Volcano’ from April Fools Day many years ago. I heard it from my elderly mother, to a police Lieutenant that I once served with, to a clerk at the corner store. It seems Curran is the only journalist to officially touch the story thus far.”

I can’t imagine why Curran thinks it’s wrong for any journalist to check out a tip, verify that it’s not true and then not report it.

Following Curran, WCVB-TV (Channel 5) confirms Bruschi’s continued status as being among the living.

More: Bruce Allen explains. (Via Universal Hub.)

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6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    EB3 here,yes Dan, but these are sports reporters. there job is to suck up to athletes and ignore, if not deny, the obvious. Take steroids for instance. when jose canseco’s book came out they all called him a liar. unbelievable. but now the wind has blown soo far towards steroid abuse that the sports media has reluctantly reported it but refuses to poin t fingers or ask questions about players who still appear to be on roids.Sports media has become one big effort to hang out with the cool kids. and the cool kids are a-holes for the most part.

  2. Anonymous

    EB3, that’s a ridiculously ignorant comment. You might want to get out a read a book (“Game of Shadows” or “Love Me, Hate Me” are two great books about the steroid scandal that have come out within the last year, both written by sportswriters) or a newspaper (the San Francisco Chronicle has done some Pulitzer-worthy stuff) or magazine (Sports Illustrated was doing stories about the dangers of drugs in baseball as far back as the 1960s). In all of those cases, sportswriters pointed fingers, asked questions and did their due diligence. Get you facts straight before you spout off about something you don’t know anything about.

  3. Anonymous

    EB3the local boston media are suck ups. with few exceptions. i stand behind that. fanireu from sf paper always wrote beyond sports. but anyway, when canseco’s book came out he was on sports radio and they ripped him, including sports writers, as not credible.

  4. Anonymous

    eb3 againsomeone should do a side by side, year by year, photos of David ortiz, along with his stats for each year. Don’ yopu think.if it quaks like a duck

  5. BosPhotog

    It sure seemed real Tuesday night when I received three different calls from the three friends asking me if I had heard that Bruschi died. It was quite unnerving given that Bruschi had recently dealt with stroke issues. After taking a breath, feeling horrible and thinking the worst, my mind immediately went to Reggie Lewis’ “dream team” and I wondered if there was a Gilbert Mudge in Bruschi’s past. Glad it’s not true

  6. Anonymous

    Yeah … the sports media got reeeeeal tough on steroids. After spending about a decade waving pom-poms about the increase in home runs and seeing nothing suspicious about the sudden explosion in both biceps size and power hitting stats. Real pack of Woodwards and Bernsteins, there.

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