By Julie Buehler
I like sports, not soap operas.
I read the NFL Fact and Record Book, not the National Enquirer.
I enjoy the action on the field and don’t need to be entertained by manufactured drama off it.
With so much media and so much information sought by multiple outlets striving to collect more and more page views, sports media is reaching far beyond the X’s and O’s and much too far into the ex’s and “ohhhhh”s that sell tabloids.
The latest example is TMZ’s reporting of Colin Kaepernick in a Miami hotel and an investigation of “sexual assault” involving the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback.
TMZ reported that “sources” had said the young NFL star was being “investigated for sexual assault” when speaking of a police report leaked last week concerning a woman who said she woke up in a hospital with spotty recollection of the previous night’s events.
ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NBC Sports and many other major sports media outlets cited the TMZ report in their reports. So outlets that claim varying levels of journalistic integrity and responsibility turned to “sources” from TMZ to propagate a story.
That’s like going to Vegas to tour the Great Pyramids and Eifel Tower.
In the police report, which is only her account of the night, not verified facts, she told officers she was in a hotel room with Kaepernick and 2 other NFL players. Those 2 other players aren’t household names and therefore would not grab people’s attention by being placed in a headline, so TMZ chose not to do that.
She said they were drinking and claimed there was marijuana involved as well, saying she ended up in the hotel room bed undressed and passed out. In the report, she went on to say Kaepernick and her did not have sex, and when the other 2 players came in the room she told them to leave and asked “Where’s Colin?” because apparently, he was no where to be found.
The police report then stated she said she woke up in a hospital and did not know how she got there.
There’s no doubt in my mind Kaepernick put himself in a comprising position by at least not knowing what was happening in the hotel room where he found himself, at worst, being around illegal activity of any kind.
And as someone looking for a raise to be the face of a billion-dollar business that is the 49ers, he must be beyond reproach and can’t allow people in his life or himself to engage in questionable activity.
BUT, and this is a big BUT… The media ran with this story because there were enough lurid details to peak public interest and for media members to speculate about but not enough facts to get in the way.
So those who dislike Colin Kaepernick because of his laconic interviewing style, personal fashion style or because of the team he plays for can use this incident as evidence to support their opinions without the inconvenience of fact. And those who like Kaepernick for the similar reasons have enough questions to cling to a defense for the player.
The problem is it creates swirling controversy not because of the facts of the story, but because of the headline chosen by the original reporting outlet that is then further propagated and circulated by other irresponsible outlets to catch up in ratings and page views.
Heaven forbid SOMEONE in the mainstream sports media display a level of restraint and ask questions like, “Wait, the police report says the girl and Kaepernick didn’t have sex and she didn’t know where Colin was. How can he be part of a ‘sexual assault’ allegation?”
Or “Wait, TMZ is reporting this? Do we have OUR own sources to confirm ANY of this report?”
Or “How’d this police report get leaked so quickly?”
ANY one of those questions getting answered might slow the story down and offer REAL facts for the public to decide on their own.
Again, I’m not excusing anything Kaepernick did, if there is any wrong doing on his part, I certainly expect him to face the consequences.
But TMZ and the sports media that reported this headline did so with the basic intent of creating controversy, not reporting the facts, and did so to create conversation around their headlines for profit, not inform the public.
We’ll learn more facts as they become available, but do you think if facts prove that Kaepernick’s only involvement that night was dropping by for a quick hello, unaware of another room’s events, that those same TMZ executives and the same sports media lemmings that initially reported the “sexual assault” will recant their headlines?
If you do, just head to Vegas to tour the Great Pyramids or Eifel Tower.
Julie Buehler hosts the Coachella Valley’s most popular sports talk radio show, “Buehler’s Day Off” every day from 3-6 on 1010 KXPS, the valley’s all sports station. She’s an avid gym rat, slightly sarcastic and more likely to recite Steve Young’s career passing stats than American Idol winners. Tune in M-F 3-6 pst at www.team1010.com or watch the show on Ustream.