Have I Libeled You? An Honest Request For Constructive Criticism
I have written internet journalism for over a year now.
In that time, I have published stories on topics that I believe have been ignored by the mainstream media.
Why do I do that?
I do believe that many in the mainstream of media are hindered by forces that do not affect a blogger, such as a paycheck and adherence to the authority of those who give that paycheck (e.g., newspaper companies, and advertisers).
At the same time, those in the mainstream have more training in their field, and are less likely to make costly mistakes, but more timid to cover a controversial subject.
I am educated, and in fact, I take pride in my research and willingness to ask questions.
My willingness to cover controversial subjects in sports, such as cheating and racism, has made me the target of many accusations and attempts by other bloggers to humiliate me.
I will always state what I believe and why I believe it, but I accept that I could be wrong. Thus, the intent is an open request to fellow bloggers and even professional journalists that read this article to give feedback.
If you would prefer to remain anonymous, just email me at email@example.com and I will not reveal that you contacted me. There is no legal requirement that I must reveal sources.
Now obviously, I have been critical of just about everyone. Mainly because I do believe that, the only approach to solve a problem, is to look inward as to what you can do, rather than shift blame or attempt to advise others.
In all irony...because, is there another way to do so? I believe that the true job of a journalist is to be an observer who asks the tough questions. The conundrum is that even the questioner can be questioned.
Rather than pretend that it is unimportant, I try to address it by stating my biases, but then willingly state things against my bias, because by admission of bias you know when I have said something against my interests.
I do want to learn. Please then inform me if you think there is something I have done egregiously wrong, have overlooked, or just do not do yet should.
If you disagree with my work then, what would you do differently? If your answer though is, "don't say anything at all" then please be thorough in your explanation as to why.
I realize that sometimes just stating an opinion can befoul the practice of journalism. That is why I would rather ask questions; I do that because I do not know.
I want to know if I am wrong, just as much as I want to know if I am right. However, if I have been out of journalistic line on a question or questions, please tell me why.
Though I was unable to complete my formal education, I continue to pursue informal education from those with experience. Thus, I hope that there are professional journalists who read my articles to advise willingly.
My goal right now is to freelance for TheOnion for which I have already applied, with the long-term goal of writing for The Colbert Report or The Daily Show.
That is why I pursue advice from professionals, but until they directly contact me, I will not assume that they read my article.
Here are some things that I do believe
I have said many things during my time writing for The Bleacher Report.
Thanks to former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, strong suppositions without valid substantiation can be held as libel.
For instance, if you said, "In my opinion, (blank) is a liar," but with no valid reason to think so, it can be libel.
Typically, a plaintiff must prove malicious intent by the defendant but also prove that the libel incurred damages. You also must prove that the statements are false.
I concede that some things I have written have been caustic and untactful in delivery such as "The Truth about the New England Patriots and Racist Idiots," and "Why Tom Brady Is a Dirtbag," though I do not apologize for raising the issues within those respective articles.
I reiterated and emphasized that it was my interpretation of facts, and that the lack of questions by the media has created enough ambiguity and gray-area to justify the soundness of those articles.
Moreover, those interpretations were not fringe interpretations.
Obviously, Brady fans, Patriot fans, and others will not view leaving the mother of your son for the latest model as an act of a dirtbag. However, enough reasonable people would disagree.
Moreover, I wrote my opinion that those who defended the Patriots and Spygate were racists, because the NFL's punishment against the Patriots was disproportionate to the punishment against black players like Pacman Jones. Yet, no one defended Pacman as people defended the Patriots.
Most reasonable people would also agree that racists are idiots.
Thus, I do not believe it was libel, because the intent was to provoke thoughts and questions on an important issue of racism by double standards in the NFL and professional sports.
On other issues, such as reference to my previous employer, The Home Depot, I have said nothing about them that was not recorded by a public official in Washington as testimony or other official record.
Thus, my references to The Home Depot cannot be considered libel, because they were accepted as public record, while I continue to have copies of what I have officially stated. Thus, I am fully within my rights to report the issues to the public in any form I choose.
On Michael Phelps, I wrote a very sarcastic and even scattered opinion on the bong photo entitled, "Dude, Where's My Medals? And the Home Depot makes it Global." The intent of that was that of sarcasm and surreal irony.
Moreover, Phelps deserved to be criticized for questionable behavior, just as someone like Pacman Jones has been.
I have also written a three-part series entitled, "An History of Baseball's Era of Greed" which was intended as sports literature, more than journalism. However, that is still covered by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
I have been reluctant to refer to that series as a blend of fiction and non-fiction (some of which is now outdated), simply because people tend to disregard what you can learn about the truth from fiction. Moreover, The Bleacher Report has no option for "Literature" as it has for "Humor."
If you disregard the originality of that series simply because it is laden with music and film references, then chew on this:
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music... I get most joy in life out of music.” -- Albert Einstein.
As to whether you can learn about the truth from fiction, here is more for you:
“History is not the story of heroes entirely. It is often the story of cruelty and injustice and shortsightedness. There are monsters, there is evil, there is betrayal. That's why people should read Shakespeare and Dickens as well as history - they will find the best, the worst, the height of noble attainment and the depths of depravity.” -- David C. McCullough
I hope that my questions in, "Sony Pictures Shelves Movie about Moneyball with Brad Pitt; Soderbergh" did not insinuate that I believe that Billy Beane has used steroids or has provided steroids to players.
I merely asked questions from information provided in the book Moneyball about Beane's volatile temper, as well as Beane's connection to known juicers, Lenny Dykstra, Miguel Tejada, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Jason Giambi.
Those are the questions where I want to know if I am wrong.
On Spygate and Cheating:
"Everyone does it" is an invalid defense. If everyone in an impoverished neighborhood decided to use drugs to alleviate themselves, would that make it okay? It is understandable, but I would not encourage or condone it.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have questionable ethics. Just look at what Brady did to his own son.
Spygate was significant, yet was treated cynically by the media without hard questions. The media accepted Roger Goodell's word as fact, rather than question why he destroyed the tapes.
Suspensions, Behavior, and Racism
The NFL (and sports) is still plagued with racism and anti-Semitism (just ask Bill Russell, Al Davis, or many others).
The behavioral problems (specifically, alcohol abuse) of white people get rationalized (ex, Jared Allen, Matt Leinart) while the behavioral problems of black people get irrationalized (ex, Pacman Jones).
In the case of Matt Leinart, he administered alcohol to underage girls in a dangerous manner, and no one cared. Alternatively, they voiced their admiration for Leinart.
No one questioned whether Leinart engaged in lewd acts with girls that were under the influence, and not of legal age to drink.
If he had, that would have been rape. No one investigated or even asked. If Leinart had been Terrell Owens, then TO would have been compared to Darrell Russell in suppositions and conjecture.
I do not know what transpired at that party. That is what disturbs me. I believe that the reason we "don't know" is that Leinart is white, whereas, had he been black, we would have known every gaudy detail about it, along with endless rumors and abstract moralism.
Moreover, Jared Allen has committed what is the equivalent of a felony DUI in some states by one arrest in Idaho in 2002 and two arrests in Kansas in 2006, yet Allen was suspended for only two games, after he had spent time in jail.
Meanwhile, Tank Johnson was suspended after a flurry of legal issues, most of which were thrown out. The only issue that stuck is that Johnson had illegal possession of guns in Illinois. However, the same possession would have been legal in his home state of Arizona.
In the case of Pacman Jones, police arrested Jones for disorderly conduct in public, while strippers have twice accused Jones of spitting on them.
I hope that you don't infer that I think that the word of a stripper has no inherent veracity, but the fact is, the courts only ordered Pacman to stay away from those clubs or given probation, partially extended from a bar fight he engaged in during college.
Yet, the NFL suspended Pacman and Johnson for extended periods while journalists demonized them in the media, yet Allen and Leinart went on their merry way.
I do find it sadistically ironic that Pacman would be demonized for the same behavior that is regularly lionized in country music songs, when he played pro football in the country music capital of the world, Nashville.
The south has a notorious affinity for strip clubs, bar fights, and alcohol related antics. The fact is that they will sing songs about it—that is an undeniable fact. The message however has been, you can only live it down if you are white.
All I see in Pacman Jones is a player with an alcohol problem and a plethora of accusations against him.
Ask yourself this: If your father had been murdered when you were four, and the grandmother who helped raise you died of cancer—can you say absolutely that you would you have been different?
As for the 2007 "make it rain" story from Las Vegas, if you read the info about that melee without raising an eyebrow then you probably did not read it. A valet described the suspected shooter as a "black man with cornrows," who took-off into the night.
That sounds like every stereotype of black people I have ever heard. Considering that, the melee occurred during the 2007 NBA All-Star weekend, that person could have been Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Jermaine O'Neal, or Richard Hamilton.
What also makes no sense is the order of events. Chris Mitchell, the owner of "Harlem Knights," claimed that he filled a trash bag of Pacman's cash that he "thought" was for the dancers, while he also claimed that the melee broke out after he told the dancers to gather the money.
Simultaneously, Mr. Mitchell claimed that melee broke out after he—and a male associate — left the club with the bag full of cash. The police also recovered two Breitling watches from Mr. Mitchell. (Who owned those watches?)
That raises another question in my mind: How much cash was in the bag? Police say that $81,020 was retrieved, but there is no mention as to the percentage carried by Mr. Mitchell. Did he have all of the money, or just part of the money?
When did Mr. Mitchell tell the dancers to gather the money: When it was in his bag, or when he was outside with an unnamed associate with plenty of opportunity (a bag full of cash) to bribe and intimidate the unnamed valet into bearing false witness?
It seems to me that Pacman was just a patsy and a red herring because he had a reputation of accusations from strippers.
The reports would have you believe that the shooter was just some random thug in a flurry of confusion, rather than an inside job.
I cannot listen to the Bob Dylan song "Hurricane" and not hear the eerie similarities to "make it rain."
I do believe that much of the criticism against Al Davis has been skewed with lies, such as, "biggest post-Super Bowl collapse in NFL history."
Those lies originate from those who dislike his pursuit of egalitarianism in football, just as Boston journalists disliked Red Auerbach for doing the same thing in basketball. Both Davis and Auerbach are Jewish people from Brooklyn.
Those lies about Davis and the Raiders are then perpetuated by fools, and detrimentally resonate throughout the confidence of players and fans.
I also believe that employees of the Raiders have been willing to scapegoat Davis (e.g., Michael Lombardi, Lane Kiffin), because the same media will believe anything negative about Al Davis, while the fans who have long resented what the Raiders have done for the league—will believe it without thought.
Statistics vs. Victory
I remain convinced that players like Dan Marino and Dan Fouts have been overrated as a result of racial biases.
Subsequently, stats were used to the detriment of championships that had been won by non-white or eccentric players like Jim Plunkett, Doug Williams, and Jim McMahon.
Here is a statistic that Marino and Fouts cannot match: championships. Leaders win championships. Losers tout their stats.
Passer statistics reflect an affinity for over-schemed offenses executed by the "crafty."
People view black quarterbacks as "freelancers" while they also view white quarterbacks as, "crafty."
Just read the articles by Pete Prisco on Sportsline.com in which he disregards the record-setting offense of the 1999 Vikings as an offense.
It is all just a veiled excuse to think: "I want to watch white guys take all the credit. The black guys can play and I'll accept their presence, but in my mind, they don't exist, so they better not play important positions from which all success trickles down."
Steroids in the MLB
Bud Selig should take responsibility for the problems that happened on his watch rather than blame Donald Fehr for doing his job.
Yes, it was Fehr's job to advocate the interests of the players. Those interests were simple—more money.
After all, the MLB owners had colluded against the players in the mid-1980s, thus the players resorted to unethical means to fight back.
Selig had the power to force the issue of testing with the Commissioner's clause to do what is in the best interest of baseball.
Selig wanted to keep his job. MLB owners had ousted the previous Commissioner, Fay Vincent, on a ridiculous vote of no confidence in the early 1990s.
Instead, Selig would rather have us believe that it was the fault of the players and only the players. The reason—more money.
Fans and Journalists
The job of a journalist is to question those who are least likely to question themselves, which does include but is not limited to, authority figures.
However, journalists also have to watch their paycheck, which can often keep them from questioning those who dislike questions and have the power to do something about it.
Some fans are irrational, and that irrationality is cancerous to the health of your team, because it will create fear that fans will stop buying tickets and other merchandise.
Thus, executives will make irrational decisions in order to appease irrational fans.
Outcries from fans can often result from racism. When Mark McGwire took the single-season HR record in 1998, he admitted to steroid use. No one cared.
After Bonds took the single-season HR record in 2001, people claimed to be protecting the sanctity of baseball by questioning Bonds.
Yet, why weren't they protecting the sanctity of baseball in 1998?
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