Yesterday, I wrote that Jonathan Martin’s handlers picked the right person in Tony Dungy to conduct his first interview since the controversy broke. The former coach is one of the most highly respected people in the NFL.
However, it has been pointed out to me that Dungy might have been the wrong choice for NBC.
The former coach serves on a special Miami committee to review the Dolphins standards of behavior and make recommendations in the wake of the charges that Richie Incognito bullied Martin. Dungy, along with Dolphins great Dan Marino, was brought in by owner Stephen Ross and will begin work on the committee when the NFL investigation is complete.
It should be noted that Dungy isn’t being paid by Ross. However, there is a connection to the team.
The first two segments of the Martin interview ran under the NBC News umbrella, not sports. Last night, there was a short airing on NBC Nightly News. This morning, the Martin interview and then a chat with Dungy aired on Today. More of the interview will be shown tonight on Pro Football Talk on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET
On the Today show, Carson Daly did say, “We also want to point out that coach Dungy was brought in as an outside advisor by the Dolphins in this situation…”
I’m bringing this up because it appears to show there are different journalism standards between news and sports within the networks. Would NBC News allow a similar arrangement to occur for an interview regarding someone in politics or business?
For instance, let’s say NBC had a staffer, one of its experts, who was part of a panel conducting an investigation involving somebody in President Obama’s cabinet. Would NBC gives its OK for that person to conduct a first interview with that cabinet member? Probably not. It would be a clear conflict of interest.
But here, NBC approved Dungy, despite his Miami ties, to do the interview with Martin.
Please don’t say, well, the Martin thing is just sports. The Martin thing likely will result in a lawsuit, affecting numerous individuals. This is a big deal.
I have a call into NBC to see it has an official comment. Will update if I get one.
Bottom line: I like and admire what Dungy has done in football and beyond. He does make a considerable impact.
However, if you follow the rules of journalism, Dungy probably shouldn’t have been the person to do that interview.