Sports Media Friday: Why did ESPN edit Patriots writer’s post on Deflategate?

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports media:

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe has his analysis of some curious editing at

In (Mike) Reiss’s perfectly rational reaction piece, which was edited by the copy desk but was not eyeballed by a high-level editor before publishing, he cited seven items of interest. As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio put it with appropriate snark: “At some point, two of the seven takeaways were taken away.”

In other words, after Reiss’s completely innocuous post was published, someone at ESPN decided that it wasn’t quite innocuous enough. The first item removed was in reference to a segment in Van Natta and Wickersham’s story that noted that Patriots opponents have suspected that the team has an employee scour the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium for revelatory information, such as a play sheet.

Wrote Reiss, who has covered the Patriots since 1997 (including a stint at the Globe): “Security’s extremely tight throughout Gillette Stadium. Don’t think too many people, if any, are casually walking into the visitors’ locker room. And let’s just say they are, who leaves play sheets around?”

The other part of Reiss’s story that was edited out was even more harmless. “When you’re at the top, everyone likes to bring you down,’’ wrote Reiss. “A longtime sportscaster with a deep history in Boston relayed this thought to me that resonated: ‘They used to say same the stuff [regarding gamesmanship] about Red Auerbach.’ ”

Why Reiss’s post was nitpicked while blatant months-old mistakes remain in other stories is a mystery — an ESPN spokesman told me, as one did Florio, that the piece was “given a tighter edit after the original posting” — but it certainly provides more curious evidence for the growing factions of conspiracy theorists in New England that ESPN, which pays the NFL an estimated $1.9 billion per year in television rights, is willingly, if selectively, doing the bidding of its broadcast partner.

Bryan Curtis of Grantland examines the coverage of Deflategate.

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The Miami Herald is looking for a Heat beat writer.






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