Steroids: ESPN's Take on the Mitchell Report, Fair or Free?

Kyle JensenContributor IApril 13, 2008

Writer's Note: This is an article I wrote a little while after the Mitchell Report was released.


I just read an article by Le Anne Schreiber, titled "ESPN (mostly) rises to occasion with Mitchell Report." Not going to lie, I did get a little bored reading the article (mostly because I have read a ton of articles regarding the issue), but I made my way through it.

She mentioned a lot of unfair reporting by ESPN, and she is not the only one.

I have watched ESPN since I could remember; my dream is to be on the staff of ESPN, even if it were to be a janitor (or in the words of "Half-Baked," "a master of the custodial arts").

At the University of South Dakota, we have the almost brand new Al Nueharth Media Center. In the media center, you will find a quote that you can't miss, visible anytime one walks into the media center. It reads: "The first amendment guarantees us a free press, we in the media must make sure it's a fair one—Al Nueharth, USA Today."

This is something that, since being engrained in my head, I will always live by.

Being a sports channel, a lot of ESPN's journalistic nature comes from games and highlights. ESPN is not CNN, nor Fox News and so, knowing that, they need to find a balance during issues like the Mitchell Report.

Most of these reporters (the exception being former athletes) were journalism majors, and should know about granting a fair press.

In a case like the Mitchell Report, I do not believe it's wise to put former baseball players on the show. It creates a bias and, thusly, an unfair press.

The players know more about what was going on in their clubhouse than anyone else, so when former baseball players try and analyze the situation, of course they're going to get a little upset and, therefore, be more biased. It also makes it seem as though the analyst is denying, rather than telling the truth.

Unless you stay in your home all day with nothing to watch or read, then you know that steroids has been an issue in baseball since Justin Timberlake was sharing airtime with the Spice Girls.

I will put a lot of the blame on Bud Selig. He has been the only commissioner of Major League Baseball I've known since I could remember watching sports.

Baseball is my favorite sport and always will be, but as long as MLB has this owner's puppet as commissioner, the steroids era won't end anytime soon. How is it that just naming names will get people to stop using?

We have two guys, both of whom being are granted a free life as long as they tell former Sen. George Mitchell some names (88 to be exact). There is proof in the form of checks, money orders, etc.

Like all other sports fans, when the Mitchell Report was first released, I opened that PDF File faster than VH1/MTV granting C-list celebrities their own reality dating shows. Again, like the average sports fan, I skimmed through and only looked at all of the names.

Some of them came to no surprise to me, and some did. People don't care about explanation these days, they care about names and when.

Of course, Roger Clemens was a surprise to everyone, and of course, since the average person doesn't care about explanation, they automatically believed he cheated. With the amount of information given by the media, I can not make an assumption as to whether he did or did not cheat.

But I will say that ESPN did not help his case at all. Even Page 2 columnist Jemele Hill called him "Fraud-ger." Because of the information given by the media, assumptions are that easy to make? Give me a break.

Now, I'm not going all out saying that I'm giving Clemens the benefit of the doubt. I know he doesn't help his case so much with this ferocious all-out blitz campaign on Brian McNamee, but it is showing something.

Clemens said on 60 Minutes that the Hall of Fame is the least of his worries. Well, good! Clemens' biggest worry should be being innocent by the court of law and not by the public's eye.

That's where it's a little contradictory: he's going out in public so hard about this, that it seems he is trying to repair his image a little more than making sure he'll be found innocent.

The fact is that Clemens will probably be found innocent in a court of law, but not in the public's eye. Therefore, his Hall of Fame days will be delayed indefinitely. Seems to me that baseball has reached its own McCarthy Era.