Should ESPN Have Sat On Syracuse Tape For 8 Years?


Greetings on a, gulp, snowy day in Toronto. Thanks to Bruce Arthur for responding to a tweet that contained this video clip. Curious your thoughts, should ESPN have sat on this tape for 8 years or gone to authorities and said we don’t know the validity of this but here you go. I know the slippery slope of the media’s need to be able to keep things confidential. I’m thinking that they had an obligation here and they’ve failed but not coming forward sooner. That’s just me. You?

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Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
November 30, 2011 11:23 am

As far as I am concerned, ESPN was disgraceful, potentially putting more young boys at risk. Who are they to decide? Isn’t that the job of the police?

I heard Dan Patrick say this morning that he fears they held on to it because had the police known word would have leaked out and they would have lost their exclusive for whenever they were, if they were, going to release it. Kudos to DP once again for calling it like it is, regardless of who is at fault.

Between this and Penn State, we have the media for ESPN and the institution at Penn State both woefully neglecting to do the right moral thing, one for selfish reasons, and one for an outright cover up.

It is time IMO for the laws to be tightened up so that it is not a moral decision, but one that has to be reported or those holding and not disclosing the information to the authorities are themselves held accountable.

November 30, 2011 11:26 am

The Dan Patrick Show had some good insight into this issue. Basically, they (ESPN) are the ones who have to live with the fact they could have stopped this by approaching the police with the tape IF it turns out there were many more young men victimized subsequent to their obtaining the tape – if it turned out to be nothing, they were doing the right thing by coming to the police.

Another Steve
Another Steve
November 30, 2011 11:51 am

This is really a complicated issue. If a journalist knows about a crime, is the journalist obliged to report or inform the police? The answer to this varies from society to society.

The immediate reaction to this is to say “yes, this organization was morally obliged to do something,” but we are thinking as individuals. I believe there are laws that compel us to do things as individuals – but people (and places) take vastly different issues when it comes to media disclosure.

I would suggest that this issue is more complicated than many people would suggest – since it involves the role of journalists with respect to the police, and whether that role changes depending on the type of story involved, etc.

To equate the journalists here with pedophiles for sitting on a story, to me, is reducing this discussion to childishness, which is what happens to most nuanced and complicated discussions. Journalists do have reasons for sitting on all kinds of stories, and, as I wrote, I think this theme is far too complicated for most people’s attention spans.

I simply don’t anticipate that this will cause any thoughtful discussion.

November 30, 2011 1:57 pm

Sorry Another Steve but there is no nuance to this. If Paterno is considered complicit with his failure to report the issue to police then so is ESPN. I am not aware that there is any dr-patient type confidentiality granted under the law between journalist and source. It seems that journalists do find themselves in jail for failing to reveal sources.

In this instance, in my opinion the right thing was to pass it over to the authorities, who could then determine if there was sufficient grounds to investigate. The role is complicated between police and journalists. It is indeed nuanced on occasion. However, I believe the withholding of evidence pertinent to any investigation or crime is fairly black and white.

I also suspect that any civil litigation process that ESPN finds itself in as a result of this may also not find it so complicated either.

November 30, 2011 3:43 pm

Hey Gang

I’m green to how a law-suit works, but my question is this:
If enough people sue ESPN for sitting on this, could this bring the end of ESPN as a whole?

I have been on ESPN’s forums, and there are A LOT of pissed off people at ESPN.

This is just my opinion, but what ESPN did was GOD AWFUL WRONG!

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
November 30, 2011 5:05 pm

To equate the journalists here with pedophiles for sitting on a story, to me, is reducing this discussion to childishness,

no one here made that equation, so i’m pretty sure we can have an intelligent debate about it.

ESPN, it seems to me, is using their journalistic standard (2 sources) as an excuse for failing to help in the investigation of sex crimes against children and adolescents. if their investigation revealed software piracy in the sports department at Syracuse i wouldn’t have an issue with them failing to turn this evidence over. but child sex crimes belong in a different category because of the severity of the harm. you don’t need 2 sources to take your findings to the police, especially if you have reason to believe that this person is in a position to commit more crimes against more children.

doctors and professors and therapists and lawyers all have limits on privileged information. they all have duties to report in certain instances. i don’t see why ESPN should be held to a different standard.

November 30, 2011 9:11 pm

Soon, espn/athlete will soon be equated to doctor/patent and lawyer/client and priest/confessee in terms of confidentiality.

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