Deadspin, ESPN Exchange Barbs

The war of words between Deadspin and ESPN over the sports blog’s coverage of alleged sexual escapades at the sports cable network heated up following ESPN’s dismissal of Major League Baseball analyst and former New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips, who admitted to an affair with 22-year-old production assistant Brooke Hundley.

Deadspin editor A.J. Daulerio told The New York Times he called ESPN Sept. 9 to investigate a rumor that Phillips was about to be fired, and the rumor was denied. When the story about Phillips’ affair broke last week, Daulerio wrote, “Well, it’s probably about time to just unload the in-box of all the sordid rumors we’ve received over the years about various ESPN employees.”

Daulerio told the Times:

Obviously, I take a different approach to this than a normal, regular, mainstream publication would. Do I bend the rules a little bit? Of course I do. We’re still a blog at the end of the day, a Gawker Media blog. The larger truth out of this, outside of my temper tantrum over getting scooped out of a story, is that this is the worst-kept secret in sports media.

ESPN responded:

Deadspin’s self-admitted rumor-mongering is despicable behavior by any standard and shows callous disregard for its impact on people’s lives. It is not worthy of response and those responsible should be called to account.

And Gawker Media owner Nick Denton chimed in via an email to the Times:

When an unnamed source misleads, as far as we’re concerned, they lose the right to remain in the shadows. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.