I guess Pete Carroll doesn’t miss the Patriots.
Tag: Patriots Page 1 of 2
Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan puts the Boston Herald walk-through fiasco in perspective today by pointing out the obvious — that Patriots coach Bill Belichick has forever branded himself as a cheater. Ryan writes:
How could anyone not feel sorry for Bob Kraft?…
His was said to be a model organization, where the owner owned, the personnel people found the right players, and the dour defensive genius coached ’em right up to championships, or close to ’em.
And now he has to live with the reality that he presides over the most despised and reviled franchise in all of contemporary American sport, and all because the coach he trusted has betrayed him.
In the New York Times, Mark Bowden offers a different sort of perspective, arguing, essentially, that it’s not a big deal and that everyone does it.
Bowden compares the Patriots taping scandal to, among other things, Gaylord Perry’s spitball. Not to condone what Perry did, but, somehow, I don’t buy the comparison. I’m with Ryan on this one.
There has been, as some media observers have noted, a question as to why the Boston Herald’s apology on Wednesday referred to John Tomase’s “sources” when his original story referred only to a “source.” Today Tomase puts that to rest. In fact, he had no sources, if by “source” you mean someone who gives you information that you can use in a story.
Look, the Herald has apologized. Editor Kevin Convey has offered a personal mea culpa. And Tomase himself writes, “Turns out I could not have been more wrong. I regret it, and that’s something I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life.” So there’s no need to unload on the guy. He says he’s going to keep covering the Patriots. It will be interesting to see how that works out.
Still, there are a few things in Tomase’s piece that are worth highlighting and questioning.
1. What stopped Tomase from tracking down a first-hand source? Tomase says he wishes he hadn’t relied on anonymous sources for such an important story. But the anonymity isn’t as troubling as his admission that he didn’t talk with a single source who had direct knowledge of the Patriots’ videotaping the Ram’s walk-through before the 2002 Super Bowl. This section screams out:
One that I trust said he had been told the walkthrough was taped. A second said he had been told the same thing, but neither had seen a tape.
So Tomase talked with two sources who said they were “told” about the incident. Well, who told them? Wouldn’t they have been the keys to the story? He says he was under some competitive pressure from the New York Times, but shouldn’t he have kept trying to get an eyewitness account — especially when his sources were suggesting that they had heard such an account?
2. No, Tomase shouldn’t violate his promise of confidentiality. A few critics, including me, have suggested that Tomase and the Herald should consider outing Tomase’s source if they conclude that the source had deliberately fed him misinformation. Tomase turns that self-righteously on its head, writing:
There has been a clamoring for me to identify the sources used in my story. This I cannot do. When a reporter promises anonymity, he can’t break that promise simply because he comes under fire. I gave my word, and the day I break that word is the day sources stop talking to me.
Given Tomase’s description of the way the story unfolded, then no, of course he shouldn’t reveal his sources, because they weren’t trying to set him up. They were passing along rumors that they apparently believed to be true — indeed, as I’ve already said, they weren’t even sources in the proper sense of the word. It was Tomase’s decision to type up those rumors before he had finished checking them out.
3. Where were the editors? Convey’s “Editor’s Note” is solid and unequivocal, but also detail-free. What if any role did he play before Tomase’s story was published? What about the sports editor, Hank Hryniewicz? Did they know how thin Tomase’s sourcing was? Did they think about hitting the brakes — or did they pour on the gasoline instead? And what steps have they taken to make sure a story this unsourced doesn’t make its way into print again?
Significantly, the Patriots saga is still playing out. Matt Walsh is flapping his gums, and Sen. Arlen Specter is flapping his arms. If Tomase is still the Patriots beat writer, how is he going to cover that?
A great journalist once told me, “Access is overrated.” I suspect that Tomase is going to be putting that maxim to the test.
My Northeastern colleague Steve Burgard, director of the School of Journalism, poses a couple of questions in a letter to Romenesko:
1. Why did the Herald’s apology offer so few details about what went wrong, forcing us all to wait until John Tomase has his say on Friday?
2. Given the questions that are swirling around this story, why did the Herald let Tomase cover the Arlen Specter angle?
Perhaps we’ll find out all tomorrow. Or perhaps not.
Can’t get enough of the John Tomase story? Oh, I can. I do want to see what he has to say about the whole walk-through mess, but we’ll have to wait until Friday for that. Meanwhile, here are a few tidbits while we wait for his version of what happened, whether he got used by a source and what comes next.
— The Boston Globe reports today that the Patriots are unlikely to sue the Boston Herald for libel as Patriots owner Bob Kraft has pronounced himself to be satisfied with the Herald’s apology. With U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter demanding further investigation into whether the Patriots have cheated, it’s no doubt best for the Krafts not to take action that would require opening themselves up to a bruising discovery process.
— Herald editor Kevin Convey weighs in with an “Editor’s Note” in which he adds his personal apology to yesterday’s unsigned mea culpa, but goes on to say that he stands behind the sports department in general and Tomase in particular. Convey closes by saying that Tomase will offer his version of events in tomorrow’s Herald.
— Herald columnist Tony Massarotti writes a belittling, defensive piece today that, given the timing and the circumstances, is ill-advised. Which is why you should read it. It’s highly entertaining in its institutional self-pity. Tony Mazz: “The media is a sordid business.” If that’s his world view, well, reader beware.
— David Scott writes a long analysis at Boston Sports Media that Patriots junkies might find interesting. (I’m in the camp that believes the condition of Curt Schilling’s arm is a more important sports story than, say, the Super Bowl, but that’s just me.) Scott’s always a good read, but I don’t know why he questions the sincerity of the Herald’s apology. It seems pretty abject to me.
— Specter’s news conference, at which he demanded an “objective” investigation of the Patriots, makes the front page of the New York Times and the sports front of the Washington Post. The Herald’s role in this gets a quick brush-off in both stories. Perspective, folks.
— In reading Scott and a few others, I learned that Tomase was briefly celebrated/reviled in June 2005, when he wrote a column for his then-employer, the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, questioning Manny Ramírez’s heart. Click here, scroll down, and there it is. Scott also points to this, which suggests that Tomase’s criticism of Ramírez was off-base. I’ll call a foul on Tomase for the phrase “a contract that could have inspired Coleridge to poeticize albatrosses,” but maybe he’s gotten better since then.
— A lot of folks have made much of the Herald’s admission, in its apology, that the paper “neither possessed nor viewed a tape of the Rams’ walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI, nor did we speak to anyone who had.” That’s bad journalism, needless to say, but it’s hardly a revelation.
Tomase’s original Feb. 2 story makes it clear that he never “possessed” or “viewed” the tape. As for whether his source had seen the tape, the story is ambiguous. But it should have been perfectly obvious that this story was never properly nailed down.
The Herald football writer says:
I just wanted to make one thing clear — I know I screwed up on the Rams taping story and I don’t intend to hide behind today’s apology or an editor’s note. In Friday’s Herald I will explain as clearly as I can where that story went wrong and begin the journey of restoring your trust in my reporting.
I’m glad hasn’t been thrown under the bus — and I can’t wait to see what he’s got to say.
There is something truly weird about reading the vicious, hateful comments (422 at this moment) to the Herald’s apology — and, at the bottom of every page, seeing a come-on that says, “Join the BostonHerald.com community.” Yes — sign up today and you, too, can post an illiterate attack.
After Peter Lucas, then a columnist for the Boston Herald, erroneously reported in 1983 that Mayor Kevin White would seek a fifth term — “WHITE WILL RUN” was the front-page headline — his unnamed source turned out to be none other than Kevin White.
Lucas offered to resign anyway, but the editors were not about to let him be punished for falling victim to a dirty trick.
This morning it looks as though the Herald is trying to close the books as quickly as possible on its erroneous Feb. 2 report about the Patriots’ having videotaped a St. Louis Rams walk-through before the 2002 Super Bowl, running an apology that’s teased in huge type across the front and back covers.
In a perverse twist, the Globe runs the covers online, while, at least at the moment, they are not available on the Herald’s Web site.
The theme of the day seems to be whether the Herald reporter who wrote the walk-through story, John Tomase, should be fired. That’s what they’re talking about on WEEI Radio (AM 850).
But Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media remains struck by the specificity of Tomase’s story. “The situation isn’t as cut-and-dry as it might appear at a casual glance,” Allen writes.
Let’s get a grip. It’s not like Tomase wrote false, anonymously sourced stories that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But I would like to know more. I keep thinking about what happened to Peter Lucas, and wonder if the reason Tomase got it so wrong was because his source was so good.
If Herald editors have reason to believe that Tomase’s source was not acting in good faith, will they out him? Today’s apology would seem to preclude that. But, like Paul Flannery of Boston Magazine, I hope we haven’t heard the last of this.
Good grief. My sympathies to hardcore Patriots fans, who invested far more in this team than I did. The Pats — and especially the offensive linemen — were thoroughly outplayed from beginning to end. What a game. It really looked like it was over at 14-10, didn’t it? You never know.