I assumed the big story today would be the Karen Sypher trial closing arguments. With both sides presenting their case to the jury and a potential verdict, I thought Wednesday would be the last “all-Sypher, all the time” day here on Kentucky Sports Radio. But then a story trumped it…specifically, the Chicago Sun-Times publishing the outrageous rumor that UK paide Anthony Davis Jr. $200,000 and that soon he would commit to the school. The article was originally produced as shown above (the picture is a screen shot from the original story) and suggest that “rumors” exist that Davis was to be paid by Kentucky. No source is cited for those rumors and bizarrely, it is buried nine paragraphs into the story. Think about that for a second. The writer was so clueless as to what he was doing, that he placed by far one of the more outrageous allegations in recent college sports, one that would rock the very foundation of college basketball and its most followed program, towards the end of the article, almost as a throwaway line. It makes one wonder if Michael O’Brien (whose days of living in infamy are just beginning) even recognized the unbelievable journalism no-no he was committing. He wrote the phrase in the same manner another writer may have written, “Davis visited UK last weekend”, but instead used it to suggest a major NCAA violation. It is astounding.
Immediately there was outrage. It was gratifying to see basically every major college basketball writer move quickly to blast the story. Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman, Mike Decourcey, Seth Davis and others all quickly trashed the article, as did the major college blogs on Yahoo, MSNBC, etc. The Chicago Sun-Times then retreated a bit, taking out the money allegation and the mention of Kentucky, but leaving in the “rumor” that Davis was on the take. That reaction showcases how clueless whoever is making these decisions for the newspaper really is. While the allegation about Kentucky and the dollar figure was removed, the damning part of the article concerning the kid remained. Its good that the newspaper has decided not to allow an unnamed source’s “rumor” to bring down the reputation of a college basketball program and a coach, but apparently its ok to leave it in as it pertains to a high school kid. As we said during the Eric Bledsoe story, these are SERIOUS allegations that could follow the kid forever…you simply CANNOT run with those unless you have all your facts in a row. Throwing out a “rumor” in a way that maligns a college program is bad, but it might be even worse to do to a high school kid. But apparently the Sun-Times is fine with it, as that part of the story remains on the site right now.
At this point, Kentucky fans have seen this game before. Insinuate, throw out loosely connected facts, put it on a major news site and see what sticks. That is the game journalists have been playing with John Calipari from the moment he arrived in Lexington. This is the most egregious example yet, but the playbook was started with columns and innuendo from writers ranging from Pat Forde to the New York Times’ Pete Thamel. It is clear that when it comes to Calipari, anything goes from the national media. If the allegation is shaky at best and involves unnamed sources, thats fine….its Calipari, so it must be true. If the allegation requires months of digging into high school transcripts, finding nothing but insinuating the possibility of fraud where no proof exists…its Calipari so it is fine. If the allegation involves just repeating on Twitter that Calipari is “scum”, that he is “sleazy” or simply making sure to comment on every negative Calipari story on no positive one (hi Mr. Forde),…its Calipari, he must have done something. When it comes to Calipari, journalists either have no rules or dont care to follow them, as we were shown again today.
I often criticize newspapers and mainstream journalists, for being boring, writing about things that most have no interest in following and being behind the times of modern media. But the newspaper writer’s retort is usually the same…”We are newspaper men…our standards are different than blogs…we cant write what you write…thus we cant do what you do. We are held to a higher standard…that is journalism!” It sounds nice when you read it…and at one time it may have been true. But now it seems that more and more, newspapers and other mainstream outlets are acting the same as blogs, or as today, worse. I would never run a rumor that besmirches the character of an individual without concrete proof…its why you have never seen one story on here about why Darnell Dodson wont be playing at Kentucky. I know, but I cant confirm, so I stay silent. However now apparently, the Chicago Sun Times sees no problem with running an article suggesting a kid has been paid off, based only on unnamed “rumors” and innuendo. There are many factors causing the slow death of newspapers, but the one thing they always could come back to as a redeeming quality was the mystique of credibility. As today’s action surely shows, now we can question whether they even have that.