A week after Jason Whitlock made his ill-conceived comments about Thayer Evans and Sports Illustrated’s probe of Oklahoma State, the fallout continues.
This time, it comes courtesy of Will Leitch and Jay Mariotti. They take their shots at sports journalism’s favorite punching bag.
Again, I can’t resist sharing, although I know for some people, the mention of Whitlock, Leitch and Mariotti, three highly polarizing figures, in the same post might cause their computers to explode.
Leitch in his Sports on Earth column:
4. People still listen to Jason Whitlock. This one always surprises me, but it’s undeniably true. When Whitlock fired his broadside against Evans on Tuesday, it changed the tenor of the conversation from “aren’t people tired of these investigative stories into college athletics?” to “wait, did Sports Illustrated screw this up?” almost immediately. Whitlock’s broadside against Thayer wasn’t unusual for him — and said with his typical taking-out-an-ant-farm-with-a-semi-automatic precision that got him tsk-tsked by ESPN — but it put Evans and Sports Illustrated into a defensive crouch it hasn’t escaped yet. This doesn’t mean Whitlock isn’t right about the mindset behind the piece, ultimately. Just that his double-barreled assault on Evans changed the way people talked about the piece.
Also: Whitlock said on Twitter that if ESPN had produced the same report as SI did, he wouldn’t have criticized it, out of company loyalty. This is an amazing admission, and, to judge from this incident, probably justifies whatever ESPN is paying him right there.
Meanwhile, Mariotti, who is back writing and talking again at his new site, Mariottishow.com (he has a daily online radio show), had this to say about Whitlock:
He says the SI investigation was “unsophisticated” — again, while not once explaining precisely what’s wrong with the series yet going into great detail on why Evans is a schmuck. This is shoddy, childish, embarrassing, bullying b.s. from Whitlock, who, if his Twitter feed reflects his life and career, doesn’t investigate much of anything except G-strings in strip joints. If you’re going to criticize those who are trying to break stories, you’d better try breaking some stories yourself.
Otherwise, shut up and sit down.
Mariotti also makes a good point here:
In his new capacity at ESPN, Whitlock has been hired not so much to be on the air — I investigated for myself and confirmed it — but to run a sub-site promoting African-American sports journalists. That’s a worthwhile mission, given the unfortunate dearth of minorities in the profession, but what’s he going to do with such a sensitive assignment? Will he teach his hires to trash the work of other journalists just because he doesn’t like them personally? That wouldn’t be very ESPN-like, and he won’t last long there if unprofessional tactics are his mission.
OK now, who’s next to take their shots at Whitlock?