Bruce Feldman: ESPN's Ethical Nightmare Continues with Suspension of Writer

Tom Kinslow@@TomKinslowFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2011

When you have a public relations nightmare on your hands, the last thing you want to do is fuel the fire.

Yesterday, ESPN did just that when it suspended college football writer Bruce Feldman for his role in Mike Leach's new book.

Feldman helped compile information for the publication, which tears the network to shreds for its coverage of the scandal that ended in Leach's termination at Texas Tech.

The allegations are stunning and horrific, as the book excerpt outlines the efforts of Craig James' public relations agency to steer ESPN's coverage of the scandal.

In journalism, that is the most horrible sin, and the network deserves to be lambasted for its brazen behavior all in the name of ratings and scandal.

It was clear that James had an axe to grind, and ESPN allowed the analyst to smear Leach's character on a daily basis.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the network ignored Leach's statements denying the allegations. It was pitiful journalism, and suspending Feldman for doing work he was cleared to do is horrific.

ESPN may be the biggest name in sports, but it isn't bulletproof. And it's shameful that this situation ever got to this point. The Internet is buzzing with support for the embattled writer, who has been given a raw deal all because the network refuses to admit it's unethical behavior.

Feldman did nothing wrong, and the truth of the situation is that the suspension will only serve to drive more eyeballs to the original misdeeds by ESPN.

The network never stopped to think of how it would look having one of its employees at the center of a story. ESPN pounded the story into the ground on a daily basis while James led the charge, making his son out to be the victim when it was far from the case.

It is one of the ugliest incidents in the history of sports journalism, and for a network like ESPN to do something like this is a slap in the face of every honorable writer out there. 

ESPN should be ashamed of itself, and the company has a lot of explaining to do (though it seems to be avoiding doing so).

Right now, the network is hiding behind a "no comment," but at some point, someone has to come forward and explain this fiasco.

If they don't, how can any viewer ever trust ESPN's coverage of anything? How do we know that there aren't people influencing the network's coverage and hiding the truth from viewers?

Suspending Feldman is a new low for the network, and if there is any justice in this world, ESPN will suffer for its treatment of a hardworking writer.

Maybe this scandal shouldn't be surprising, seeing as ESPN knows nothing about honor after the way it handled the Leach story from start to finish.

The cover up is always worse than the crime, and the network is finally paying for its sins.

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