This morning, ESPN issued a statement, saying his comments towards Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans were “not acceptable.”
“We have discussed Jason’s comments with him. They were personal in nature, they do not represent ESPN and they are not acceptable based on the standards we have set.”
Tuesday, Whitlock went on an Oklahoma City radio station and blasted Evans, who along with George Dohrmann is writing a series of stories about improprieties in the Oklahoma State football program.
ESPN has media policies in place about how its employees should address the competition. As in they really aren’t supposed to comment or criticize other media.
However, they are allowed to weigh in if it warrants discussing media coverage of a particular story. Even then, they are asked to follow certain guidelines.
The policy contains this line: “Comments must not be personal, vicious, dismissive…No cheap shots.”
And then there’s this: “No personal attacks or innuendo toward people, media companies, networks or publications.”
Now you be the judge about whether Whitlock crossed the line with comments about Evans to an Oklahoma City radio station.
“Knowing the lack of competence that’s there with Thayer Evans, knowing the level of simplemindedness that’s there with Thayer Evans, to base any part of the story on his reporting is mind-boggling.”
Does that fall under the category of a personal attack, juror 1?
And then there’s this from Whitlock.
“ … Let me end by saying this and I honestly mean this without malice. It wouldn’t shock me if Thayer Evans couldn’t spell cat and I say in all seriousness.”
Ding-ding-ding. Sound the cheap shot bell. I still love how he insisted that line was meant “without malice.”
Finally, Whitlock blasted “the brand of sports writers who love doing these investigative pieces.”
Yep, didn’t exactly go over well with ESPN’s many sports investigative reporters, who are among the best in the business.
I don’t respect the entire brand of investigative journalism that is being done here.
To add the whole dynamic, Whitlock sought a forum for his comments with a tweet inviting Oklahoma radio stations to give him a call for an interview. Not that he meant any malice.
Obviously, Whitlock veered from ESPN’s media policy on many different levels. The network responded to quell any internal fires as much as anything else.
Several of his new teammates talked about a double standard. They speculated what would happen to them if they went on the same rant.
“I’d be fired,” a staffer said.
Since Whitlock might not be current on ESPN’s policies, he likely received a lecture filling him in on what is acceptable at his new place of employment.
It might be a while before Whitlock comments about the competition again. And if he does, it definitely will be without malice.