FanDuel - WFBC

May 14, 2008

Boston Herald Apologizes for False SpyGate Story: "On Feb. 2, 2008, the Boston Herald reported that a member of the New England Patriots' video staff taped the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI," the paper announces in today's edition. "... we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed." One fan's reaction to the Pats' hometown newspaper running a false story about the team the day before the Super Bowl: "now and forever the Herald is dead to me."

posted by rcade to football at 07:45 AM - 20 comments

I guess I have known for sometime that "Spygate" would again rear it's head through the Sportsfilter. I do find it very unfortunate that the Herald gave a false account and damaged the image of the hometown team. But, I am still certain that the revelations that I have seen only serve to convince me further that the "Hoodie" knew he violated the rules and got caught. Walsh stated that he had to conceal the practices for fear of being caught. He was instructed to tape the games by the head of the video department, and he turned the tapes over to Ernie Adams. The tapes were intercepted by the league officials as they were being sent at halftime to the Pats, and even Godell said he never believed the Coach's take that he thought what he was doing was legal and a simple misinterpretation of the rules. I guess if you believed they were corrupt that this will only serve to strengthen your views, as well as if you believed they were wrongly accused that you will still feel they were wrongly blamed. But, back on topic - shame on the Herald. They really blew this one....

posted by Mickster at 08:33 AM on May 14

I don't think the story had any impact on the Pats' performance in the Super Bowl, but boy could the timing have been any worse! I would've expected something like this from the Globe, owned by a NY paper, but not the Herald. Of course, this is not going to exonerate the Pats in the court of public opinion, I'm sure the haterade will begin flowing here very shortly, but I think the people should give the devil their due. What the Pats have done is special, they are not the first team to cheat, nor the first team to be caught, but no one can take away all of their wins nor their place in history as a dynasty. Let the piling on begin!

posted by crqri at 08:36 AM on May 14

The rest of the media ought to be voting some sort of an award to the Boston Herald. After all, if the story of the alleged taping had not been printed, what else would everyone have had to talk about? This must have kept a lot of people gainfully employed. I would love to see the Patriots refuse interviews to Herald reporters, never call on them at press conferences, and generally make life miserable for them, but it probably won't happen. What bothers me is that the Herald has some really good writers, but seems to have an editorial staff that consists of chimpanzees. Nice word there crqri, "haterade".

posted by Howard_T at 09:29 AM on May 14

Don't hold your breath waiting for the "Who was spying on the Pats" story to break in the national media. Only the Patriots do bad things.

posted by yerfatma at 09:43 AM on May 14

The original story by reporter John Tomase is based entirely on one unnamed source "close to the team during the 2001 season," as I read it. Today's apology doesn't reveal the source who burned the paper with false information. I think genuine contrition on the Herald's part requires the name of the source. I don't understand why papers don't do this when they're used as a conduit for lies.

posted by rcade at 09:48 AM on May 14

The fact that the Herald reported this without first finding further proof of the tape's existence is still inexcusable. When you're at a newspaper reporting to thousands of people about (most of their) favorite football team, you better be pretty darn sure you're right, ESPECIALLY when you're saying something bad about them. I still haven't really decided what I think about the whole Spygate thing. Yeah, the Patriots "cheated". But yet apparently they didn't actually break any rules, and now apparently they're getting off without any punishment. If it works, it works, I guess. And besides, tapes or no tapes, to be able to execute as well as they did is still a credit to their ability and the coaching skills of the Hoodie.

posted by boredom_08 at 09:56 AM on May 14

yerfatma: Don't hold your breath waiting for the "Who was spying on the Pats" story to break in the national media. Only the Patriots do bad things. Oh mercy me. Now isn't that interesting. And, as you say, it'll vanish without a ripple. rcade: The original story by reporter John Tomase is based entirely on one unnamed source "close to the team during the 2001 season," as I read it. Today's apology doesn't reveal the source who burned the paper with false information. Walsh himself, maybe? Although why he would...well, he seems about as smart as a box of hammers, but... boredom_08: I still haven't really decided what I think about the whole Spygate thing. Yeah, the Patriots "cheated". But yet apparently they didn't actually break any rules, and now apparently they're getting off without any punishment. Are you just tuning in on this? They certainly were punished; don't be absurd.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:07 AM on May 14

Today's apology doesn't reveal the source who burned the paper with false information. I think genuine contrition on the Herald's part requires the name of the source. I don't understand why papers don't do this when they're used as a conduit for lies. rcade -- fully agreed. The concept of source anonymity and the unwritten rules around it should be revoked when it is found that a source has lied. That it is not so allows a "high ranking Pentagon official," "CIA source with security clearance," "senior White House adviser" and assorted other douchebags and miscreants to lie, and to use the press to spread their lies, with impunity. Would outing liars really have a chilling effect on getting sources to speak off the record? I doubt it. At most, it would keep the liars from commenting off the record, which is a good thing any way you look at it.

posted by holden at 11:09 AM on May 14

But yet apparently they didn't actually break any rules, and now apparently they're getting off without any punishment. Are you just tuning in on this? They certainly were punished; don't be absurd. Not only that but they DID actually break the rules (which is why they were punished).

posted by bdaddy at 11:16 AM on May 14

The fact that the Herald reported this without first finding further proof of the tape's existence is still inexcusable. Depends on the source. If their one unnamed source "close to the team during the 2001 season," was actually the janitor's brother...then yes, that would be inexcusable to publish this without following it up. However, if that source was say, an assistant coach or someone in the video department, then I think it's ok for them to publish that info with no other confirmation.

posted by bdaddy at 11:18 AM on May 14

Apparently Comcast isn't satisfied.

posted by yerfatma at 12:34 PM on May 14

Are you calling Sen. Spector "Comcast"?

posted by rcade at 01:25 PM on May 14

Government meddling in what is largely a private entertainment industry, it's Comtastic!!! (rcade -- yerfatma is referencing the fact that a key benefactor of Sen. Specter is his home state corporation Comcast, which is in the midst of a protracted dispute with the NFL over the NFL Network. See, e.g., this article drawing the link and recounting an anecdote of someone referring to Specter as "the Senator from the great state of Comcast.")

posted by holden at 01:38 PM on May 14

As Will Bunch wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News, "If you simply took Specter at face value, and assumed his passion for grilling the NFL in his official Senate capacity is the passion of a jilted fan, that alone would be an outrageous abuse of his authority. But the truth is much worse, because Specter's interest in this issue dovetails far too closely with those of his two largest contributors, whose employees have given his campaign more than half a million dollars to keep him in office. I believe if there's any Senate hearing involving the NFL and Arlen Specter, it ought to be the Senate Ethics Committee, looking at a potential link to these donors." (Sports Illustrated) While I agree that the use of anonymous sources, or relying too heavily on one possibly misleading informant (cough cough, Curveball), is one of the serious problems mainstream media in the US needs to wrestle with, there is part of me that feels a little sorry for John Tomase and the Herald. Tomase isn't a hatchet man, he's actually a pretty good reporter. Meanwhile, I don't blame the Herald for running a story potentially harmful to a hometown team on the eve of a big game -- given how much we rely on beat writers and other reporters for our information on our favorite teams, don't we want those reporters to deliver the unvarnished truth, not a team-approved PR edition a la mlb.com? I don't want my local papers to cover up for my favorite teams or take their stories at face value, I want them to investigate and if dirt is being done, expose it. For instance, reporters from the Indy Star should be leading the charge to find out what exactly happened with Marvin Harrison, his Belgian hand-cannon, and Philly malcontents a week or so ago. So I don't hate on the Herald for betraying the Pats with this story, I only hate on them for running a half-reported, bogus "scoop." My beef with them is as an armchair media critic, not a sports fan. The Herald has admitted its mistake and apologized, and will no doubt by punished by the animosity of the die-hard sports fans that make up a large percentage of its readership. Tomase's name is mud in Boston right now, on a par with Mike Fish and Gregg Easterbrook, if not Walsh himself. It would be ironic if the same Patriots fans who desperately want Spygate to go away persist in rubbing this mistaken story in the face of the Herald for months on end...

posted by Venicemenace at 01:39 PM on May 14

I have nothing relevant to add to the discussion other than: but I think the people should give the devil their due. See? I told you all! Satan! Beelzichick! (I will not stop)

posted by THX-1138 at 03:17 PM on May 14

He wears the hoodie to hide the tentacles, THX. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at the Globe today.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:31 PM on May 14

Why doesn't Senator Specter get his head out of his sphincter let the league and all of the other teams do what they want to do-drop this. When even Bill Polian is asking for closure on this matter, you know its time to let it go. Do the Republicans really have so little fear of retribution that he can continue his crusade for one of his backers with such impunity? Geez! Your Steelers were handed the SBXL. Move on!

posted by crqri at 04:41 PM on May 14

Egads, it won't die. Let's post another link about Clemens and another one about Bonds today just to maintain cosmic balance. That said, this is actually an interesting sports journalism related event. Good for the Herald to apologize in such a large way - as opposed to in a sentence in their "corrections" section. They should not have published a story on such shoddy evidence regardless of the timing, and the apology doesn't necessarily fix anything, but it was the right thing to do and they deserve some credit for that.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:03 PM on May 14

Wow, whiff on my part. Apologies. I really need to pay more attention before opening my piehole for purposes other than food.

posted by boredom_08 at 12:49 AM on May 15

Goodell has really done a disservice to the league and the Patriots with his handling of this incident. He has made this seem like a huge cover-up even though the Pats have already been punished. Why request the tapes after you have punished them and not before? Why keep changing the story as to how long the Pats have been doing this taping? Why destroy all the tapes and notes? Why does he keep on giving the impression that no investigation is necessary. The NFL has always been so savvy with its handling of the media and big PR issues (see steroids). It is shocking how badly managed this was.

posted by bperk at 10:57 AM on May 15

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